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Picking up where I left off last week (catch up on the first post in this series here)…

I arrived in Sydney obviously confused about what day it was… but at least my luggage made it safe and sound!

So I wake up refreshed and with a room full of new roommates to meet. How exciting! Let’s go see the highlights of Sydney? Yes! Our must-see list included walking George Street, Circular Quay, the Rocks, Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, Darling Harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens… a long, but incredible day! What could possibly go wrong, right?

Sydney Harbour Bridge, 2008. “Before the incident” Photo: She Sees the World


Uhhh, wrong.

So here’s what happened: you can see in the corner of the photo that I was carrying a beach bag with a sweater draped on top. When it came to the end of the day, I broke off from the group to check emails (AKA: upload all my photos of the day to Facebook to induce jealousy in these pre-Instagram days) at an Internet cafe not far from our hostel. I set my bag down beside me and put on my sweater. A couple of girls approached my area and were playing with the computer beside me. I thought nothing of it… until the clutch I had in my beach bag was no longer there.

Gone were my: bank card, Social Insurance card, ID, Passport, credit cards, receipts and more!

Lesson 8: Remain aware of your surroundings

Lesson 9: Take a bag with a zipper

So, now that these things are gone… what do you do? The answer, if you’re me… is to call your parents at 5 a.m. their time.

I lived at Western Union as my credit cards wouldn’t send new cards to me directly. Getting a new passport was a whole other month-long story. Oh, and I had to start school in the meantime. Mom, Dad, and friends lent money for bus fare and hostel stays. A friendly French stranger gave me replacement passport photos for free (for a long time I had a passport photo in which I’m in tears. Very attractive option, but wouldn’t recommend). Long story short: I managed to stay alive and stay travelling. What did I learn?

Lesson 10: It’s OK to cry

Lesson 11: Sometimes you need to rely on the kindness of strangers

Lesson 12: Pack extra copies of your passport, and leave a copy with someone reliable back home

View from our apartment in Sydney. Photo: She Sees the World

After 12 lessons in a matter of two weeks… that’s it, right? Oh… how wrong I was. Tune in next week for another installment of life lessons from my first solo adventure!

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