Australia has been a popular choice for thousands of international students over many years. Australia’s universities and colleges have become increasingly recognised overseas for their exceptionally high standard. In addition, Australia is conveniently close to South-East Asia (Jakarta, the capital of Australia’s closest Asian neighbour, Indonesia, is only 5506 kilometres from Sydney). Revised entry procedures for overseas students have made it possible for an increasing number to study in Australia. Sydney, the largest Australian city, is the principal port of call for international airlines with services operating to Australia.
Named after an ex-Governor of New South Wales, Sydney is the State’s capital city. Located on the south-east coast of Australia in the temperate zone, it enjoys a mild climate, averaging 14.5 hours of sunshine per day in summer and 10.25 hours in winter. It is also the largest, oldest, and perhaps most beautifully situated city in Australia. First established by the British as a convict settlement in 1788, it is a modern cosmopolitan city that has developed into one of the nation’s major industrial, business, and manufacturing centres.
Sydney is home to nearly 4.9 million people (as of 2010). The suburbs reach out from the city centre and harbour some 55 km to the north, 35 km to the west and 30 km to the south, creating a metropolitan area of about 3000 square kilometres. The 57 square kilometre harbour is one of the largest in the world, and famous for the unmistakable 134 metre high arch of the Harbour Bridge and the graceful sails of the Opera House. It is a busy waterway with ferries, freighters, hydrofoils and pleasure craft.
Not far from the city centre are the attractive old residential suburbs of Balmain, Glebe, and Paddington, where many people live in smart terraced houses. Art galleries, pubs, and restaurants abound in the cosy streets that tend to be quite narrow, whereas the suburbs surrounding the city’s colleges and universities consist mainly of family homes and multi-unit blocks – an ideal situation for students looking for a homestay, or to rent. Sydney’s newer suburbs now have a large multicultural population, and local shopping centres reflect the influences of many cultures.
Sydney is home to the State Art Gallery of New South Wales, the State Conservatorium of Music, the Australian Opera, the Sydney Dance Company, and the Australian Ballet. The world-class Sydney Symphony Orchestra offers superb classical music all year round. Local theatre is innovative and well supported, and large-scale overseas productions tour regularly.
As well as scores of cinemas and theatres throughout the city and suburbs, there are numerous clubs which appeal to people of all ages, and cater for all tastes. Pubs are the venue for smaller modern bands, while the big-name popular music artists, both local and international, attract capacity audiences at the huge Entertainment Centre in the heart of the city.
In Sydney, a vast array of ethnic and local restaurants can be found to suit all palates and pockets. In summer, café patrons often sit outside at tables under umbrellas, and enjoy the passing parade of shoppers. Students who prefer to cook at home can choose from several large weekend markets, where fresh fruit, fish, and vegetables may be bought more cheaply than at the local supermarket. Sydney also has its own Chinatown.
In the heart of the city are several big department stores linked by enclosed over-the-street crossings and underground walkways. Most noticeable are the towering Centrepoint complex and the Queen Victoria Building, both containing many shopping arcades, coffee shops and restaurants. Out of town, in the suburbs, there are huge regional shopping centres. At the weekend markets, bargains can be had when shopping for clothing as well as for a wide range of assorted goods.
Australia is recognised as one of the most sports-conscious nations in the world. Sydney boasts an impressive number of facilities for all types of indoor and outdoor sporting activities. Wherever one goes, there are golf courses, cricket pitches, football ovals, tennis and squash courts, and, of course, indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Avid ice-skating and ten-pin bowling fans will find that these activities are also popular and inexpensive.
Whatever a student is interested in, it is certain to be available somewhere in Sydney. Outside the colleges and universities the scope for filling the leisure hours is enormous, while on campus the choice is equally varied.
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