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“ Yes, I flew 10,000 miles to see a Kangaroo”

Monday, December 31st, 2012

It was time for  “real” orientation. The goal(s): Make as many friends as possible and explore Melbourne while trying not to look too much like a tourist on vacation…

The first few days during the Melbourne Welcome program were devoted to casual campus tours and showing us where to buy all of the necessary dorm items at prices that wouldn’t completely bankrupt us. (Warning: if you are planning to come to Melbourne, buy [in advance]/ bring all of your toiletries with you! Why? Because even toothpaste here can run you eight dollars!) The program was designed to help transition international students into life in Melbourne by “showing us the ropes”, and taking us on various adventures around the city.  It was very exciting to be an international student and to meet people from all around the world.  Not only did this give me a chance to brush up on my Spanish, but I found myself learning about other cultures, languages, and people.

The program ran for a total of four days, and within those days, my group and I took Melbourne by storm!  The adventures began with a visit to down town Melbourne, a special food tasting, and the Eureka Skydeck. Down town Melbourne was beautiful, and the architecture of the buildings was so diverse and fascinating.  While down town my group and I passed the state Library of Victoria, the Melbourne Museum, and the ACMI (Australian Center for Moving Art). The tour of the art museum was followed by a special food tasting which included emu, duck, crocodile, quail eggs, prawns, and even kangaroo! After perusing the art galleries and tasting some of Australia’s native animals, we headed straight for the Eureka Skydeck to view all of Melbourne from the 88th floor. (Fun Fact: The Skydeck stands 300 meters (984 ft) tall and  is the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere.)

The next day it was off to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Melbourne Zoo.  We took a tour of the MCG, which serves as an Australian Rules Football (Footy) stadium during the winter, and an arena for Cricket during the warmer months. The stadium can hold an impressive 100,000 people, and was the place where the Olympic Games were held in 1956.  After being introduced to Footy and touring the stadium, it was time for the zoo!  You could easily spot an international student at the Melbourne Zoo because we were usually the one’s eagerly searching for the kangaroos. “ Where do they keep the kangaroos?!” asked several students as they interrogated a zoo staff member. I tried to act nonchalant but I wasn’t fooling anyone. The enthusiastic look on my face paired with my camera, readied in hand, screamed “ Tourist” and “Yes, I flew 10, 000 miles to see a kangaroo.”  (We did find them eventually, laying on the ground, refusing to be active.)

At the end of the four days, all us involved in the Melbourne Welcome program were exhausted having ventured all over Melbourne. What’s even more remarkable is that we had barely grazed the surface. There is more to see, more to learn, and so much more to explore in this cultural Mecca.

As for my goals?  I formed many new friendships and had seen so much of this truly amazing city. Oh yeah, and as for not looking like a tourist…well, I am working on it.

Crocodile Dundees

Me at the MCG

Kangaroos! Finally! :-)

Welcome to Newman College

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Sand colored stonework encloses the lush green grass of the quadrangle. The magpies’ sweet song echoes from the eucalyptus trees as the sun’s rays cascade gently across the landscape. The only disturbance is the trickle of the fountain whose water reflects the radiance of clear blue sky. The serenity is timeless. It’s majesty, irrevocable. Welcome to Newman College.

Newman College

Footy!

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Australian Rules Football.  Learn it & Love it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football

Some Clips:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-PFRrJQtew

A couple photos from our girls game today:

“Why do you study English when you are fluent?

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Melbourne Uni, short for University of Melbourne, is an acceptable response to all those inquiring where I am studying abroad for the year.  “So, what are you studying?” tends to be the next question.

“English”

“Huh?” [insert awkward silence paired with a blank expression]

In order to break the silence, I quickly add “ I am also a Creative Writing concentrator…”

“Ah, brilliant! That’s wonderful”

It took me a little while to understand why no one really seemed to value  English majors, but did favor those who took up Creative Writing. My confusion was cleared up by a fellow Holy Crosser and English major when I posed the question to him, someone who had also been receiving a similar response from people.

He was quick to tell me that one of the girls he was talking to came right out and asked “Why do you study English when you are fluent?” I couldn’t help but laugh, mostly because I was relieved that it wasn’t an Australian unspoken truth to dislike English majors. Since then I have stopped being so paranoid, and simply respond “Arts”.

“Laura just hung up on me AGAIN!”

Monday, December 31st, 2012

It doesn’t feel real yet. I have spent a total of three days in Australia. Each day has been scheduled with tours and activities organized by the University’s Melbourne Welcome program. I honestly don’t know how I am doing it all. There’s not even time to feel the jet lag that has overcome my body and its feeble attempts to recalibrate itself to a fourteen-hour ahead time difference.

All of us who flew together admit to believing in this false notion that we are all merely on vacation. It doesn’t really set in until we are forced to deal with the many new challenges and tasks that present themselves such as buying all the necessary items for living in a foreign country for a year. Priority number one on everyone’s list? Buying a cellphone.

It was the first day of Orientation when myself and several other Holy Cross students rampaged the streets of downtown Melbourne searching for a mobile phone retailer during our “free time”. The look on the sales people’s face at each service carrier was priceless when our herd of Holy Cross students requested ten of the same phone models, always finding ourselves out of luck and on to the next phone store. After several blocks walked and many of prepaid plan pamphlets read we all settled on a similar [in-stock] device that we purchased at a local post office.

After a good three hours searching for phones, it was time to activate our new prepaid devices. To none of our surprise, we were directed by the lovely automated voice of Laura after having dialed the activation number. Soon a cannon of voices attempting to set up our mobile phones rang out over the courtyard. Yet, no matter what people tried it wasn’t working. “ Laura just hung up on me AGAIN!” shouted one kid who had already called six times. Another tried reasoning with the automated voice speaking softly, “ No thank you Laura, can you please connect me with one of your associates.” It was twenty-five minutes later before Laura had connected me with one of her living and breathing associates. Fifteen minutes after that I received my new international phone number.

Slowly, one by one, we were all assigned numbers. Thankfully, despite our many frustrations with Laura, we were all now able to communicate with one another. And for once, it started to feel real, but we were not alone.

* **For perspective study abroad students interested in studying in Melbourne, my personal suggestion for mobile phone purchase would be at a Post Office. There they offer all the phone carriers and will not try to coerce you into purchasing a phone plan or any other unnecessary gadgets.***

Want to go to Prom?

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Surf

sunset

When my friends asked me to go to the  prom-I couldn’t refuse. It wasn’t what I had expected, and was absolutely NOTHING like prom back home. No, there were no dresses or corsages, this was Wilsons Promontory, known by locals as ” the prom”. Wilsons Promontory is located in Gippsland, and is the most southern point on the Australian main land. The prom is beautiful, boasting several amazing beaches, and a lush green landscape. Not only is the scenery breath-taking, but Wilsons Prom is also home to a diverse range of Australian wildlife.  It was truly an amazing time, and nothing like the proms I’ve been to before- it was  better!

In the rocks

 

Game…Set…Match!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

It’s summer time in Melbourne, and the weather is finally nice (No rain, yay!) Not only is Melbourne a wonderful place to be, considering Massachusetts is experiencing sub-zero temperatures (Sorry guys!), BUT, there is also the tennis! Yes, the Australian Open is taking place in Melbourne at the moment, and I was most fortunate to be able to attend.  It was a great experience, and not what I initially expected. Turns out in the last couple years the Australian Open has become more of a “must-attend’ event, similar to Melbourne’s famous horse races, The Melbourne Cup. I previously believed that I would be sitting for hours on end watching the tennis, but to my surprise, was greeted with tons of sponsor tents with activities and free stuff, and college-aged students anxious to be apart of the scene (some were even dressed up in funny costumes). Turns out, a ton of Uni kids enjoy going to the tennis and spending the day with friends.  So, like my peers, I purchased a grounds pass and enjoyed the beautiful weather, and what seemed like endless amount of tennis courts. After a long day of perusing sponsor tents for free samples, and watching a few games in the minor courts with friends, I was lucky enough to gain admission to Hisense Arena, one of the major courts at the tennis, where I got to watch Maria Sharapova play! It was awesome! Firstly, because I actually have heard of her (I don’t normally follow tennis), and secondly, she played quite well! Since then I have been regularly watching the tennis with housemates, and demonstrating my “knowledge” of the game. I’m no expert, but I’m learning!

Hisense Arena

Maria Sharapova

TasMANIA

Monday, May 21st, 2012

wine glass bay

cradle mountain

Hello All! I just got back from Tasmania and had heaps of fun! In my last post, I briefly touched upon the famous Falls Festival, but that was just the beginning of my vacation in Tassie. While in Australia’s “deep south”, I went to Cradle Mountain, Wine Glass Bay, The Raspberry Farm, Batman Bridge and many more places. Cradle Mountain was great fun to hike (and quite the workout), but Wine Glass Bay was hands down my favorite; due to  stunning views  of cerulean blue waters cupped by the white sand from which the bay gets its name. Once I finished scaling mountains, and basking on the beach, my friend and I checked out the Tassie wildlife at a local sanctuary. Whilst there, we saw Tasmanian devils up close and personal, and even got to feed the wallabies! Unfortunately, Tasmania like many of life’s amazing things, had to come to an end, but at least I left with some incredible memories.

Falls Festival

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

So I just got back from Tasmania and I had a blast! While there I went to a music festival in Marion Bay called The Falls Festival. It’s  a three day festival that welcomes in the New Year with a killer line up of bands and thousands of people. During the festival everyone camps out in tents, which I was a little apprehensive about, but it turned out to be a ton of fun. It’s also ritual that everyone travel down to the beach for a quick dip on New Year’s Eve morning (something I am  not used to, especially in New England  during December) All in all, it was quite amazing to be apart of it.

12/25, 27 degrees, sunny.

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Christmas in Oz was wonderful. The weather was great, but not quite the weather I am used to because that 27 degrees is Celsius (80 degrees F). So needless to say there was no winter wonderland this year for me but a very enjoyable green Christmas.