Okay, so I don’t completely bombard you all with posts I am going to squeeze the last week and a half in Melbourne into the following post. Then I will be completely caught up and you can no longer tell me you don’t know about my life. Creepers.
Alright, so where do I start? I got back to Melbourne the night of February 16th so I guess that means the 17th is the answer to that question. After a morning of sleeping in and unpacking, Natalia invited me to go into the city with her where we met up with Niklas and his brother Jasper. Niklas is a German exchange student studying at Swinburne and his brother Jasper was there to visit him before our classes started. We just kind of went where our feet took us and managed to find our way into the botanical gardens before heading back into the city. Natalia bought some chairs for her patio so I helped her carry those back to our train station and then headed back up to my room. I met Marco, one of my roommates, when I got back so we talked for a little while before I went into my cave to try and be productive. Emphasis on try. I’m not entirely positive what I did that night but it probably amounted to watching Lost while I uploaded pictures onto my computer (they will be up on here soon!).
Friday started much like Thursday had ended. I made the acquaintance of some more people but mainly stayed to myself to unpack (which I actually did) and run some errands. Natalia had invited us out to The Turf bar that night so Niklas and I met up to head into the city. We got lost a little bit but managed to find our way well enough only to discover (quite embarrassingly so) that a male does not wear flip flops to a bar. I was the guilty one and so Alejandro, a Columbian exchange student, who lived close by took me to his house where I put on a pair of his friend’s shoes and returned to the bar. In a really weird twist, I soon discovered that the friend whose shoes I was wearing was the boy who I shared the shuttle from Melbourne airport on the very first day that I got to Australia. I had given him my email address but apparently had written it down wrong and so had no idea where he was or what he was doing but there he was standing in front of me with his shoes on my feet. So incredibly strange but really cool. The night was a lot of fun and getting back to my apartment was much easier than finding the bar was.
Saturday. Shit, what did I do Saturday. To be honest I am not too sure as many of the days kind of blend together in a blur of new names, faces, places, and excitement. I am clear on Saturday night though. A group of us were going into the city so I went over to Niklas’ neighbor’s room where I met Olle and Glenn, two Swedes on exchange. We had a predrink and then went over to Taylor Epps’ place to help her celebrate her birthday. We met quite a few people there and we headed out to the city shortly after that. Having gotten a bit of a late start we bounced around from a bar to the Casino. Olle had the same wardrobe difficulties as I had the night before (guys don’t wear shorts into bars either apparently) so our group got split by those who went to the bar and those who went to the casino floor where the wardrobe was less strict. We played a few games and walked around before heading back to UniLodge.
Sunday was a relaxing day. I met up with Niklas, Jasper, Olle, and Ben to go to St. Kilda beach for the first time. The tram ride was unexpectedly long but completely worth it. The beach is so much fun and when we got there a volleyball tournament was in its final games so we watched that before heading further down the beach. In another freaky twist, Ben actually met two girls, Alex and Angela, who are exchange students at University of Melbourne while we were on the beach. They came to hang out with us and it didn’t take long for us to realize that both of them were at The Turf the same night we were, that Niklas and I had actually met them already, and that Niklas had even bought one of them a drink. Melbourne is a small, small place I guess. We played a few games of volleyball and then headed back to our apartments. Around 9 we met back up again to meet up with Alex and Angela to go for drinks. After an unsuccessful trip to Richmond we went into the city and sat outside on Federation Square and talked before calling it a night.
Our Orientation Week started on Monday and it was actually kind of exciting to be at. All the exchange and international students (yes, there is a big difference) were gathered into the largest lecture hall on campus and had a mutual orientation before the two groups split up. After the split things went a bit more smoothly and after a pizza lunch we were split once again into our various faculties. I was a bit confused here because I wasn’t sure where I belonged but soon discovered that since I am only taking one business class and two ‘social science’ classes that I am not in the Business Faculty but am in the Life and Social Science Faculty. We had a quick introduction to the program and were then set free to do whatever we pleased. I had met a lot of new people by this point (most of them over the weekend that I can’t remember) so a group of us went to a bar in Federation Square that had been designated as the post drink place for that night. Not in the mood to spend too much money or get too rowdy, Olle, Ben, Sascha, and I went back to my place and cooked dinner before heading over to a house where a group of Swedish students were staying.
Tuesday. What can be said about Tuesday? The SwinMates, a student group on campus, had arranged for a walking tour of Melbourne that started at noon. With nothing better to do and intrigued at seeing parts of the city I hadn’t yet, I joined for the tour but was kind of disappointed. While it was a lot of fun to hang out with everyone and That night I hosted the predrink/birthday party and it was a ton of fun. Needing a bit of home on the night I celebrated my birthday, I splurged on myself and bought some Bud Heavies and Maker’s Mark. The party was a great success (say it like Borat). Almost everyone I had met the past few days came out to celebrate plus people who I had never seen before in my life. I had even gone to the lengths of acquiring ping pong balls and cups so that I could play beer pong so that was a highlight of the night. It was weird not having my friends and family there to celebrate with me but it was a great birthday celebration none the less.
Wednesday was everything I could have expected out of my birthday. I went to St. Kilda’s with a big group of people in the afternoon. Unfortunately the volleyball nets had been taken down but it was still loads of fun. When we got back from the beach it was a quick turnaround before leaving for the Night Market at Queen Victoria. It was the second to last night it would be open and I hadn’t been yet so almost everyone who went to the beach came out to enjoy the music, shops, and food (so much glorious food). It was great fun and I will definitely be going back next Wednesday for the final night.
*I will take this moment to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday over the past few days. The time difference made it a bit confusing and I am sorry if I didn’t get to responding to everyone but I am working on it. Thank you very much and I will allow you one week for your care packages to get here before I start asking questions :P*
Thursday started out as the most pointless day of my entire trip. I went to the faculty orientation only to discover that I was one of five international students there and that almost 90% of the students were freshman. Now I know what it is like for the international students to go to Crossroads (but this was much worse because it was simply sitting in a lecture hall and not having the time of your life out in Bagdad, Kentucky). I left after the first break and walked around the little festival that had been set up around campus. Commonwealth, Telstra, Vodafone, STA, Topdeck, and a bunch of Swinburne clubs were all giving out free stuff and information. I signed up for a few things and walked away with more bags than I could carry. Also signed up for the gym. One of the clubs that I signed up for is the Swinburne Razorbacks, which is Swinburne’s Australian Rules football team. They had told me that they would be practicing at 6 that night so Olle, Ben, Elliot, and I all went out to see what it was about. The guys at the booth had failed to tell me that Thursday was their fitness night so we soon found ourselves sprinting around the field doing dips, squats, burpees, crunches, and indian sprints. We survived though and were rewarded with a quick session of ‘footy’ in which all of us managed to get the ball and quickly kick it away in mild panic. Even though it kicked my ass, the practice was a lot of fun and all the guys were really friendly and helpful at explaining the game. So we will be going back every Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm. That night I went to Henrik, Simon, Lisa, and Ottilie’s house with a few people to just hang out that night. There house is absolutely huge and has been dubbed The Castle. When they all left for the city I walked home and fell asleep reading.
Friday was pretty eventful. We had a relatively early wakeup so we could meet the REAL tour outside of Swinburne. I found a few familiar faces and we piled onto the bus to go to Healesville. I wasn’t overly excited about going since I had already been to two such places but it was definitely fun to be there with everyone who was going for the first time. When we got to the sanctuary we went on a short guided walking tour of the main animal attractions that let us stare at koalas, kangaroos, platypus (really cool, hadn’t seen one of those yet), echida, and a pretty cool birds of prey show. Our lunch was delicious and towards the end I discovered that we all got a free beer (YAY beer!) but we finished quickly because there wasn’t much time left for us to see the rest of the place. We got to see a cool reptile show, the top 10 deadliest snakes in Australia, and a nighttime exhibit all before running back onto the bus. Our next stop was a wine tasting in the Yarra Valley. Wine isn’t really my thing but there were a few really good ones that we tried. The highlight of that was the boomerang throwing though. A man of Aborigine ancestry came and talked to us a little bit about his people and then showed us how to throw a boomerang. I bought one to try for myself and actually got the hang of it pretty quickly but still had to shout “Watch out!” more than I care to admit. Duck hunters in hand, we climbed back onto the bus and planned what we would do that night. It was a fairly uneventful night that saw us move from my apartment, to Olle’s so we could celebrate his roommate Jesse’s birthday, and then to the Swedish Castle.
Saturday was a pretty laid back day. I got to sleep in and emptied out my room of all the papers and knick knacks I had accumulated over the past two months so that I could organize them and start to feel at least somewhat productive. My piles consisted of receipts, travel guides, Melbourne guides, student bar guides, souvenirs, trash, Oh my iPod!, and more trash. I opted out of going to St. Kilda’s or into the city because I can’t afford to do it every night and just wasn’t really in the mood. So I jammed out to my music and spent the day chilling.
Sunday was a good day. I had gotten a ton of sleep and woke up to head straight to St. Kilda’s. The weather was perfect and a good group of people came out to soak up the sun, play volleyball, and drink slushies. The tram ride gets shorter every time you go on it, too so that is nice. With class the next morning I just relaxed for the rest of the day, put together a pretty comprehensive calendar of what all is going on in Melbourne while I am here, and went to bed.
My first day of classes was on Monday (which is today) and it was everything I expected it to be. I only had three hours of class so I spent most of the morning Skyping and getting things organized for class. My first class was an hour long lecture that was absolutely terrible. The lecturer wasn’t starting the topic until next week so he just rambled about whatever he fancied with no discernible pattern or thought process. I found myself checking my watch more often than not. The class is Australian Politics so I am hoping that it is somewhat interesting once we actually start the lessons, but today was just downright brutal with it being my first time in a classroom in 81 days. Right after the lecture finally ended I went upstairs for my tutorial, or as people say here my ‘tut’ (pronounced toot). The immature 5 year old in me had a good giggle every time the word tut was said and this actually made me miss the first few sentences of my instructor’s speech. Woops. The tut was definitely not as bad as the lecture. It is taught by a young guy and is treated as an open conversation about that week’s topic. Today it was very vague and focused mainly on what the group thought politics was which opened up some very interesting side topics about political economics, political power, and so on and so forth. When class was over I walked over to the gym where I had my first true workout in almost two months. Needless to say I will be incredibly sore tomorrow but it felt amazing to get back in a gym. I made dinner, watched an episode of Lost, and wouldn’t let myself out of my chair until I had caught up on this very blog. Thats what I did with my Monday night, what did you do?
So that’s it. I’m all caught up. Stay tuned for more posts and I will be posting pictures sometime in the next few days.
Thank you all for still reading this, it means more than you know. Love and miss you.