Winter is Cold

Melbourne in winter is cold. But if you stand in the intense sunlight, it’s not too bad by my English standards. It hasn’t stopped me, and a group of other exchange students I met, from visiting the beach to enjoy bright vistas, or visiting the zoo to see the kangaroos and koalas first-hand. In fact, our first few weeks here have been very busy, with all of the orientation activities that Monash University planned for us. These included not only information sessions about the university, but also an array of social events.

The nights do feel like winter, with many establishments celebrating ‘Christmas in July’, and in fact the Queen Victoria markets, which we visited in orientation, were putting on an attempt at a Christmas market. It was very festive and cosy and even though it was winter and under a shelter, the Australians were not deterred from barbequing, so it did get a bit smoky! Monash is also in on this BBQ culture, and seems to have one every week on campus, if you are part of one of their many societies.

I have so far tried out the badminton society, which is extremely friendly and enjoyable, and will be joining the ultimate frisbee society next week. I have been told that the frisbee society is especially social, with regular BBQs, hikes and camping trips, so I am looking forward to it. There is also an outdoors society for this kind of thing, which I am hoping will help in my mission to see as much of Australia as I can before my exchange comes to an end. So far, it is going well, but I intend to make plans soon for wider travels. Australia is a big country!

So far I have been very lucky with my travels, as my family has been able to show me around and recommend some places. My cousin has even taken me to see some of Melbourne’s best street art, and Melbourne is a very artistic place. It is also very laid-back and friendly; everyone really is your ‘mate’. I think I will like it here.

MADA, or Monash Art, Design and Architecture, runs quite differently to the art department in Reading. You can choose elective units from anywhere in the department, if you’re an art student like I am, or from anywhere in the university, if you’re from a different Reading department, I believe. This allows us to be exposed to a range of different skills! I am learning about photography, illustration, coding, and film. So I will have no problem filling my time with assignments, as well as with all of the travelling I intend to do. Time is going by so quickly!

Getting Mummified in Melbourne

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Tim is currently studying abroad at Monash University in Australia with his Henley Business School degree at Reading. Read on to find out what he got up to in ‘O-Week’ during his first few weeks studying abroad Down Under. 

It now feels like a lifetime ago when I was first introduced to the difference between “yeah nah” and “nah yeah” (the latter being key). Landing on the Tullamarine runway after 24 hours of crying babies and thunderous snoring (not me), is a foggy jet-lagged memory that will remind me forever as the start to my year abroad in Melbourne!

The Clayton campus at Monash University is a lot bigger than I first anticipated. No longer are the days where I could leave 5 minutes before a lecture started and still make it on time. I live in Farrer Hall a 10-20 minute walk to campus depending on where your lecture is situated. Before arriving, I was told that Farrer was by far the most sociable halls on campus and after the first few days of my residency it was already clear that this was 100% true. A common room, 2 games rooms featuring table tennis, a pool table and a cinema style TV, I still remain to never have had a dull moment in Farrer whether it was either participating in the activities of O-week or potting a few balls with friends.

O-week is the equivalent to “freshers” in the UK however, there seemed to be a lot more activities to do during these first two weeks in Australia as well as a lot more free food on campus!

The most notable events during O-week were the scavenger hunts. The first was around the university campus doing an activity (such as mummifying a team member in toilet paper (Me)) or ‘striking a pose’ at each destination. We end up coming second and winning a pack of “TimTams”.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Australia for a Full Academic Year.

Melbourne Central Station

The second scavenger hunt was host in the city of Melbourne. Each team were given an activity sheet and required to perform each task on the list, record it and upload it to the events page online to get points for your team. Some examples include serenading a stranger, forming a conga line on the train and running into the wall at platform 9 ¾.

The typical night out is a trip to “Dooley’s” on a Wednesday and/or “The Nott” on a Thursday. I was introduced to the infamous “goon” before these nights out, the beverage of choice for most students thanks to its price – not the taste.

With money running low, finding a job is very difficult when considering the distance to travel anywhere within Melbourne from the university. A bus, train and tram are usually needed to get anywhere within the city, getting to closer suburbs requires a few bus changes which can easily take up to an hour to get to.

Nevertheless, I’d never have dreamt that I’d have had this much fun already and met so many amazing people. I’m eager to see what the rest of the semester brings as well as explore the rest of activities Melbourne has to offer.

Tim