I know there is no direct link between fireworks and education unless you’re talking about students who have learnt the art of thinking well beyond conventional thought to create inroads that help us all evolve. This is actually true of tens of institutes and colleges that are there in Sydney, Australia and the campus life here reflects life in Sydney in every possible way. Student stories do confirm my analogy with fireworks, though my premise is based on what Baz Luhrmann once wrote: ‘If Paris is a city of lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks.’
I have seen and experienced these fireworks of enthusiasm during my visit to this vibrant city. I remember walking down from the Amora Hotel towards the Opera House on Sydney Harbour, feeling a bit lost one dusky June evening. Jamison street led me to Australia Square, where I met a 20 year-old young man next to the famous statue of a business man sitting on a bench reading the newspaper. ‘How do I discover the heart of this city?’ I asked him.
‘I’m Animesh’ he said with a smile.
Let me tell you a bit more about the city and the way it gives a direction to the impressionable minds of the students before sharing with you Animesh’s answer. It’s not hard to find friendly faces. In less than a few minutes of friendly banter, Animesh and I had joined each other’s social media universe and began to know more about each other.
‘You know I am not a native of this country. I’m from India,’ he said.
‘So how did you make it to this place?’ He then proudly announced that he was studying at one of the most prestigious and innovative universities in the world, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
‘Getting here was not easy. But neither is it impossible. The entry to the second year of my UTS degree was through UTS:INSEARCH, its premium pathway institute which helps students to be ready for their university degrees. I completed my first year at UTS:INSEARCH, and then could directly join the second year of my bachelor’s degree,’ he informed me, ‘this, I believe, is a natural path that quality education seekers must opt for. I guess this is simple enough and lot of eager students like me do this each year.’
The city, I learnt, was a hub for international students looking for an appropriate study destination. And why not? After all, the country has a strong and booming economy and the lifestyle in Sydney is no less attractive than in any other developed country. Good students are constantly in search of places that have universities which are able to give quality education. The added value of studying here is that the connection and ties to Asia are seamless and very powerful. There are global headquarters being constantly set up in the city and I wasn’t really surprised when Animesh told me that Sydney also ranked as the second most liveable city in the world. Yes indeed, even as a tourist here, I was already feeling safe and the welcome was heart-warming. I almost wished for some magical intervention that could take away my years and make me a 20-something student again. I’d certainly want to be a part of college life here. I would have loved to zero in on Sydney as my destination for studying abroad… and UTS would surely have been one of my choices. Animesh was like my exclusive UTS Insider, giving me a peep into what the youngsters today have in store for them.
Now, let me get down to what Animesh said when I asked him the right way of discovering the heart of Sydney. Animesh, who was obviously a student of animation as he was flipping through a book with lots of pictures of buildings, looked up and smiled, ‘You are in the left ventricle, if I may say so.’
‘Aha!’ I replied, ‘and why do you say this?’
‘There is art everywhere in Sydney… and you’re perpetually face to face with art in this zone. Walk in any direction and you’ll encounter art everywhere. In front of buildings, in laneways, near parks, or wherever the city gives enough space for yet another installation,’ he said, waving his hand about. Then after a brief pause, he remarked, ‘Not just art. There is a lot of science too. This city has sustainability built into its roots. This city is eclectic. You can start your day with a long walk next to a brilliant blue ocean and never be more than a few minutes away from a vast suburban sprawl with people from every corner of the world. Even my college has students from India among other countries.’
Even as a tourist and a blogger visiting Sydney, I realised that the city gave me a lot to click and write about. The next couple of days were spent in going around capturing the city and all that have the potential to inspire creativity. So from graffiti to reflections, from interviewing a rickshaw puller to being mesmerised by the bus art that zipped around me, I was busy in falling in love with Sydney. The usual and the unusual coexist peacefully here, and, as Animesh told me in that long conversation on my first day, the city is more like a case study for all sorts of students. From creative writers looking for inspiration to technologists wanting to be in the heart of innovations, from urban landscapers to zoologists and botanists, from those wanting to dive into history to those seeking solace in geography, and from the skill seekers to management buffs, the city has a lot of indispensable lessons to offer for all.
08 September 2016