Since I thought Amistat was so great, Zac looked up gigs they were playing at to see if we could go to any. Oddly enough, they were playing a country gig called Citybound at Revolver in Prahran the Friday before I left! So of course, I had to get tickets. I knew we'd be cutting it close to when we'd be getting back from the Grampians, but I figured we'd still have a decent amount of time between getting back and the start of the show. Little did I know, we were taking The Overland Train back. Basically, it was the longer, scenic route. Still, we got back just in time and got to the venue before any of the groups started performing. The six acts were Amistat, Livi Robins, Aleyce Simmonds, Baylou, We the Ghosts and Jessica-Jade. My favorite acts were Amistat, Aleyce Simmonds and Baylou.
Amistat delivered once again. And now I CANNOT WAIT for their next cd to come out. I don't know why I like them so much, but their sound is just amazing! Kind of folky, but very easy to listen to. These guys are great, I can't say enough good things about them!
I've never heard of Aleyce Simmonds before. When she first started playing, I was a bit tentative about her sound, but a couple of songs really struck me including Name Without a Face. She wasn't bad and I'm definitely looking into getting her cd in the near future!
If you like country music you'll love Baylou! Their sound is quite like The Band Perry mixed with Little Big Town. They're great! Some of my favorite songs were Hoedown, Wreckless and Target on My Heart. I bought their cd and it's awesome!
If you're looking for some great Australian music, definitely search all these guys out! Livi Robins was more pop than anything, We the Ghosts sounded more rock and Jessica-Jade was more edgy and rock. If you're into any of that type of music, check them out. ReverbNation has quite a few of these artists and their songs, so go on and have a listen!
The day after I finished exams, Zac and I headed to the Grampians for a couple of days. I had to choose between the Great Ocean Road or the Grampians, which kind of sucks, but I definitely made the right choice. The Grampians were amazing! Below are some of the highlights of the trip!
Blue Wren Lodge
Since I'm used to bumming it at hostels everywhere I go, I figured I'd splurge (kind of) on an accommodation. I'm so happy I did - Blue Wren Lodge was absolutely amazing!
The lodge was easy to find from the bus stop and when we walked in, everything looked perfect! We were welcomed with a basket of food - including tim tams! So yummy! And within the first hour of being at the lodge, we already had two visitors in the backyard - two kangaroos! We also had quite a few cockatoos come to the backyard, too, which I thought was awesome since I've seen them in the wild before!
Since it was relatively cold when we finished hiking our second day, we spent some time in the spa bath! It was perfect after a day of hiking.
If you head to the Grampians, you wouldn't regret staying at this lodge, everything was great! More pictures below.
Hiking - Day 1
After we checked out the lodge, we figured we would do some hiking nearby and see Chatauqua Peak, Bullaces Glen and Clematis Falls. After we left, though, I realized I was still wearing my Sperry boat shoes. Since I figured we were just doing some lighter trails, I thought it wasn't worth going back to get my runners. Little did I know…
On our walk to the trail, we saw tons of kangaroos just hanging out in the yard in front of some of the houses! I couldn't believe it. This was the first time I've actually really seen kangaroos in the wild, so I was definitely taken aback by how many there were!
Then we saw a deer! I know there are lots of deer in America, but I thought since there were kangaroos in Australia, there weren't any deer. Clearly I was wrong! She was actually relatively close to us!
We went to Bullaces Glen first, followed by Chatauqua Peak and then Clematis Falls. Getting to the glen and the falls were no problem, the walking was relatively easy. However, to get to the peak, there were tons of rocks to climb over and up and down. I could not believe I was able to make it to the peak in my Sperry's, let alone make it without them falling apart! It would've been so much easier if I just wore the runners! We got some pretty great views from the peak, but I wasn't really impressed by the falls or the glen. Since it hadn't rained much, the falls were barely falls. And the glen… well, it was a glen. Kind of boring, but it had some beauty to it. Below are some pictures!
Hiking - Day 2
Our second day, we decided to do The Pinnacle, Grand Canyon, Splitters Falls and the Venus Baths. We walked SO MUCH and at some points it was really steep. It made me realize how out of shape I actually am! I actually remembered to wear my runners, so it was a lot easier than the day before in that regard. After taking a couple of Tim Tam and bread breaks, we made it to the Pinnacle and enjoyed some GREAT views. We had a nice view of Lake Bellfield and we could even see some of the neighboring towns quite a way out.
I'm constantly amazed by how different the landscape in Australia is from anything I've seen before. The rocks just look different for some reason and it's so cool! While we were walking through the Grand Canyon, we saw some people abseiling. It looked like a lot of fun and I'll have to try it some time! Once we were through the Grand Canyon, we walked through Silent Street. It's called Silent Street for an obvious reason - it's quiet! You can't hear the wind or any noise from outside as you're going through the two big rocks.
I wanted to do Mackenzie Falls, but we since we didn't have enough time, we decided to go see Splitters Falls. .I really enjoyed Splitters Falls, though. I love the sound waterfalls make, it's so soothing! It was nice because the falls were kind of off the beaten path, so we had time to relax and just enjoy the falls and the nature surrounding us! We didn't see many people all day, which was also pretty great!
We ended with the Venus Baths. At that point, it started sprinkling, so it was a bit cold and we didn't stay too long. If it was a hot day, after all the walking, it would've been so nice to go in the water or just put our feet in it! I like how the rock seems to have bubbles filled with the water. Again, the rock formations are pretty awesome here!
This was a fantastic trip and the perfect way to end my time in Australia. I don't know what my obsession is with kangaroos, but I was very happy to see so many of them, especially in such a beautiful place.
Halls Gap, while extremely small, was the perfect little mountain town. I hope to come back again one day!
Hosier Lane Graffiti, November 2013
Nothing lasts forever. And graffiti is no different. I was excited when I found out Hosier Lane was getting a touch up a few weeks back, so Zac and I went to check it out. To be honest, I was more impressed with the graffiti I first saw in July, but some of the new pieces were pretty cool, too. While we were checking out the lane, there were two wedding groups taking wedding pictures with the graffiti as their backdrop -- how cool is that?! Gotta love Melbourne! Below are some pics!
Brighton Beach Boxes
The next day, we went down to Brighton Beach to check out the iconic Beach Boxes! It was a nightmare to get there - there was train construction, so we ended up having to take two different trains and two buses! We could've took a tram, but we thought we'd save time by taking the train. Clearly we thought wrong!
It was worth it though - the beach boxes are so colorful, I've never seen anything like them before. And there are tons of them, all in a line up the beach! Some have images on them, others have designs and a couple are plain. A great variety! There's also a stunning view of the Melbourne skyline from the beach. I definitely recommend checking out Brighton Beach!
Melbourne gets an A+ for entertainment. From the buskers (street performers) to gigs at pubs, the local bands are pretty awesome. Not to mention the gem we found at Public Bar - Wednesday night comedy featuring local acts! They were hilarious! There's always something going on in Melbourne and it's awesome. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Quarters @ Public Bar
Last month we went to Public Bar and saw a few local bands play. The best part was that it was only $8 for a night of live music! We saw Captives from Tasmania, Stone Revival, FOAM from Western Australia and the Quarters from Melbourne. I wasn't a big fan of the first three, but I enjoyed listening to the Quarters. Their music can best be described as rockabilly, an early form of rock, mixing blues, country and rock together. If you like rock, country and blues, it's worth checking out their cd Tik Tik Boom!!
Amistat @ Bourke Street
In order to busk in Melbourne, you need to have a license., or so Zac tells me. Therefore, the music on the street is pretty decent. There's usually always someone busking in front of the National Library. A few times we'd sit and eat lunch in front of the library and just listen to music.. One day there was a Melbourne local, Scott Boyd, playing as we were eating. He had some great covers, but none of them compared to the cover of "Let it Be" by Amistat. I was blown away by the two brothers and bought my first CD since being in Melbourne. The $10 was worth spending - the five songs on the CD are amazing! If you love soft, acoustic, kind of poppy music, check out their cd It's Not Words.
Below is the song that blew me away!
Comedy Night @ Public Bar
I don't usually seek out comedy acts, but for $5 who could go wrong?!?! After enjoying wings at Turf, followed by pierogi and tartufo at the Summer Night Market, we ventured over to Public Bar. It wasn't until we were sitting that I realized Dave Thornton was the headlining act - he was the MC at the comedy show I saw in Sydney! I liked him a lot, so I was excited to see him again! Tommy Dassalo was the MC for the night with acts from Damien Power, Natalie Harris, Ronny Chieng, Tommy Little, George McEnroe and Dave Thornton. My favorites were Tommy Dassalo, Damien Power, Tommy Little and Dave Thornton. Below you can find some of their stuff! They're really good!!! And a few of them are pretty cute ;)
Exams are intense at University of Melbourne. At least, that's what I thought earlier this semester when I had my two mid semester exams. A few days before the exams, I was sent emails by my professors indicating my seat assignment. The exam hall on campus probably held about 500 numbered desks all in rows. No bags were allowed to be brought in and proctors constantly walked up and down the aisles. It was intimidating. But after having two final exams, I've decided the final exam process is on a whole different level of intensity.
At NYU, I've never once had assigned seating for an exam. I'd just show up, usually at the room where classes were held, and take the exam. No big exam hall, no scary proctors and no seat assignment. Simple. Exactly the opposite of how University of Melbourne does exams.
Before SWOT Vac, I checked my student portal to find out when and where my exams were. I was pleased with the spacing of my exams. But on closer observation, I noticed that my exams were located at the Royal Exhibition Building. This building is not on campus. In fact, it's not a University of Melbourne building at all. It's actually one of the world's oldest exhibition pavilions and is World Heritage listed. Luckily, when my friends and I go to British Crown every Sunday for $3 pizzas, we walk by the building, so I knew exactly how to get there.
I also noticed the seat numbers. Seat number 2772. That meant I would be with at least 2771 other students sitting in a room, taking an exam. Mind blown.
I had essentially the same experience Monday as I did today. I arrived to Carlton Gardens around 8:05am. There was already a huge herd of anxious students waiting outside the doors guarded by exam proctors. I didn't bother to bring a bag this time. It took me about 15 minutes on Monday to finally get in the trailer where the bags were kept, get my bag and get out. So all I had on me this morning was my phone, wallet and a few pens. I was listening to music, relaxing as I stood waiting to be let inside the building. All of the sudden a guy elbowed me really hard. I glared at him, but obviously it did no good because he was oblivious to everything else in the world besides getting as close as he could to the exam doors. Chill out man, it's just an exam. There were 3000 other students who were just as eager to get in, there was no prize for getting in first.
When the doors finally opened, it was madness. People were pushing to get in. PUSHING TO GET INTO AN EXAM HALL. Again, mind blown. If anyone were to have fallen, they would've gotten trampled and one would've noticed. It was crazy. Think getting into Walmart on Black Friday first thing when they open. That kind of crazy.
After getting inside, all I could hear above the murmur of students was "NO BAGS, LEAVE YOUR BAGS OUTSIDE." And all I could see were desks. Desks upon desks upon desks. About 3000 of them. All in perfect lines. This morning, I was conveniently in the front row and didn't have to look hard for my seat. After sitting, I looked up and noticed pretty murals on the walls and ceiling. The Royal Exhibition Hall is beautiful, but now, it will always be tainted in my memory from the stressful hours I've spent slaving over exams.
No need to write your name on the front of your exam booklet, you're known as your student number. Another interesting difference. I don't think there's ever been a time where I haven't written my name on an exam. Ever. At 8:15, reading time was announced. Reading time is optional and allows you to flip through the questions and start figuring out how to answer them. During the 15 minutes of reading time, students continued to flock in.
At 8:30, the exam officially started. It was unbelievable how quiet a big hall with 3000 students could be. All you could hear were pens and pencils writing and the rustle of paper. It was actually kind of cool.
This exam was much easier than the exam I had on Monday and I was done within an hour. Conveniently, since the proctors walked by constantly, I was able to grab the attention of one and get checked out of the exam. She placed a little green card over the number on the desk, indicating my exam was finished and I left.
Thoughts on the Process.
The exam system at Melbourne Uni is completely different from what I've experienced at NYU. It's definitely time efficient - about 10 exams are administered at one sitting I believe. And from my two experiences so far, it seems virtually impossible to cheat on an exam. After already going through three years of uni, it was a shock experiencing such a different exam process. However, if I experienced only this process from the start, I think it would've been easy to get used to and better in the long run. I think cheating on exams is a problem in America, and I've seen it happen during my time at NYU. It's really not fair and that's what this system is ultimately meant to do - give everyone a fair assessment where no one has an advantage whatsoever.
This Facebook page is hilarious and this post sums up my life, along with heaps of other college students out there (Yeah, I'm talking about you!). Because let's be real, it's hard enough paying attention and learning in your own country, let alone when you study abroad! Geez, how am I supposed to focus on derivative securities and financial institutions during the semester when I'm busy learning how to communicate through the Australian language barrier and enjoying all that Melbourne has to offer?!?!?
Anyway, the last day of class was October 24th. SWOT Vac was last week. The purpose of SWOT Vac is to use the week to study or in other cases, to learn all the material that should've been learned during the semester. Lucky me, I came down with tonsillitis (I've never EVER had any issue with my tonsils or throat, so of course this would happen in Australia) the day after class ended and spent 5 days in Ballarat on antibiotics and recovering. I felt like death. Zac's family was great and staying there instead of the small rooms at RMIT Village definitely helped me get better sooner. His mom is a nurse and instead of waiting in Melbourne to see a doctor on Monday, she was able to get me in to see a doctor that Saturday so I didn't have to wait to start antibiotics. While I was sick, Zac and I watched quite a few movies. I finally watched the Bourne trilogy and we watched Out of Africa. I've been meaning to see that ever since I got back from Kenya. It was such a sad movie, but the scenery was beautiful and brought me back to Kenya. I also got Zac to watch P.S. I Love You with me. Gerard Butler, mmmmmmm!!! He was dreading watching it, but since there was music by Flogging Molly and the Pogues, the movie was redeemed.
I took this picture before we left Ballarat. It's the train station! It was such a pretty building, so I had to take a picture - even though we had about 4 minutes until our train was due to leave and we still had to get tickets. We made it on the train just in time though!
We got back to Melbourne on Wednesday and I was finally feeling healthy again. So we went to Turf for their $0.50 hot wing night! I've never really been a fan of wings, but the wings are soooo good, especially the hot ones! Probably not the best thing I should've eaten after barely getting over tonsillitis, but no regrets!!
And to further my procrastination of studying/learning, we spent some time Friday in the park lounging out in the sun! Spring in Melbourne is so insane - 60 degrees one day then 80 degrees the next. So I have to enjoy the sun while it's out!
Then on Friday night, I went for a much needed run! My throat started hurting in early October, so I hadn't gone for a run since then. I honestly love Royal Park and I got to watch the sunset while I ran!
That's how I spent my SWOT Vac. Honestly, I would prefer to not have the week to prepare and have exams end a week early, but I guess I'm just used to having a day for "reading" at NYU and then having exams start. I feel like this is just way too much time, and I don't need that much! My exams are November 11th, November 14th and November 19th. If I started studying during SWOT Vac, I'd surely just forget everything!! Usually I just need a couple of days to study for each exam! Cramming for the win!
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