SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. I have always been that person who immediately panics at the sight of a rollercoaster, air balloon, blimp, or anything that puts me in a situation where the only option is to go one way… down. In February 2013, my fear of heights immediately kicked in as soon as I heard the words “Harbour Bridge Climb” during my student orientation in Sydney.

My day started at the Harbour Climb offices where I signed waiver forms with my shaking hands, changed into a one-piece jumpsuit to prevent our lose items from falling onto the highway, and practiced using harnesses with my guide. During this safety training, my heart was racing and the suspense of what I was about to do continued to build. We began our tour along a steel walkway as cars sped below us and our harnesses clicked and echoed with each turn we made. Before I knew it, we reached a vertical pillar with ladders that shot straight up to another level. The worst part is that I could only see the first half of the ladder so I had no idea how tall it was until I was on it! Luckily, the few ladders we climbed weren’t too high and I could keep my nerves under control. Once we reached the start of the archway, I was pleasantly surprised at how gradual the ascent was! Each step was relatively small compared to a normal flight of stairs you walk up in your school or work building. After the first hundred steps, I was relieved that this feat would be more manageable than I expected! As we climbed, our guide shared intriguing facts about Sydney, the bridge, and the harbour with us through earpieces we were wearing. She constantly checked in with us to see how everyone was feeling and gave us breaks at the perfect viewpoints.

1332 steps later, I was amazed at how high I actually was! The panorama of the harbour and downtown was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen; boats gliding through the water, the sails of the Opera House shining in the sunlight, and observing the hustle and bustle of a day in Sydney was surreal. I was so captivated by it all that I barely noticed my legs shaking from walking up so many steps. As we walked across the top of the bridge to the opposite side for our descent, I gripped both railings tightly to hold myself upright… the last thing I needed was to end my amazing day tripping over myself or falling. At the end of this adventure, I had an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and excitement! Of all the experiences I had in Australia, this is one I am most proud of because I took this challenge head on and LOVED IT! That’s the day I fell in love with Sydney and never looked back. If I ever get the chance to revisit this majestic city, I will absolutely do it again.