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!
Of course I had to make a trip to Sydney while studying in Australia! Before I share my Sydney experience, I'd like to point out the two VERY different airline experiences I had. On my way to Sydney, I traveled on Qantas since I paid with my accrued flight points. On my way back, I traveled on Tiger Air. When I arrived at the Melbourne airport en route to Sydney, my ID was not asked for at all. I went right up to the Qantas ticket machines, printed out my boarding pass and was in through security all in a span of 10 minutes. No waiting in lines; it was amazing. On the hour and a half flight, I also enjoyed a free drink and snack. They also had ipads at each seat with movies and music!
Now, the way back was slightly different. With one woman working at the Tiger Air Check-in desk, I waited upwards of half an hour to just check in. By the time she checked me in, she was not too happy. Luckily, I got an exit seat on the flight (always ask for exit seats! more room and you board first!) but no free beverage service. The flight was at 9:10pm, but I was still surrounded by multiple crying babies and coincidentally I couldn't find my headphones in my bag.
It was just interesting how different the two experiences were. I've been on budget flights before, but I've never been on a budget flight and a normal flight within a 5 day span, so the differences were fresh in my memory, so I thought I would share!
Gardens, Operas and Beaches
After arriving in Sydney and finding Asylum Hostel, I waited for my two friends and then we went for a walk to the Sydney Opera House. One of them already had a ticket for a show that night, so my other friend and I were going to see if they had any other cheap shows playing that night.
We walked through the Botanical Gardens - they were beautiful and so vibrant! The weather was warm and perfect!
We ended up getting two tickets to a stand up comedy show the first night we were in Sydney! It was great and some of the acts were hilarious. The acts included Matt Okine, Luke Mcgregor, Greg Behrendt, Felicity Ward, Ryan Hamilton and the host Dave Thornton. I haven't laughed so hard in a while!
The next day we went to Bondi Beach. It was a bit confusing to get there since a few people were telling us different ways, but we made it and it was the perfect weather for it. We did the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk and saw some beautiful views of the coast and heaps of surfers. The water was so blue!
More pictures from the walk are below!
Sydney was a nice city. I'm still happy I chose Melbourne Uni over New South Wales in Sydney, but I am a bit jealous of the weather in Sydney. Melbourne has been quite bipolar lately; some days are freezing and some are hot! It's supposed to be Spring! I want a happy medium!
It's a choice I made when I decided to do the International Business Exchange fall of my senior year - I'd have to recruit for full-time positions in America from Australia. While I've only had a few interviews so far, I'd like to share my experiences recruiting from abroad. I'm currently recruiting for actuarial analyst positions, but the process is the same for other financial positions, too.
Getting the Interviews.
A month before recruiting started, a frightening thought crossed my mind. What if no employers want to hold a Skype interview for me? Of course, this was a silly thought, because in the world we live in, it's just as easy to hold a virtual interview as an in-person interview. I think this is a thought that may occur to many people who are deciding whether or not to study abroad during recruiting. While ensuring you a have a job when you graduate is important, I personally believe recruiting should not be a reason to not study abroad. While some employers may not hold Skype interviews, quite a few firms will, so it shouldn't make a difference in your decision.
The process has been just as easy as if I were back in New York City. I apply for positions through On Campus Recruiting, I'm notified when I get an interview, I pick a time-slot, then I email the recruitment team to make sure a Skype interview may be accommodated. There hasn't been an instance where I was invited to interview and they could not accommodate me with a Skype or phone interview.
The Time Difference.
Before coming to Australia, I didn't think too much about the time difference. I just knew I would be 15 hours ahead and would have to talk to those back home either relatively early or late. However, when you are working on business time, the standard 9am - 5pm, this equates to midnight - 8am my time. My interviews have fallen in the range of midnight to 2am.
It's been both tiring and interesting having interviews that late. For me, I think the most beneficial aspect of having the interviews so late was that I had to go through a full "normal" day beforehand, so a lot of the nervousness was taken away until just a few hours before the interview. The worst part was staying up late for the interviews - I'm usually in bed by 11pm!
Regardless, time difference has not been a huge issue regarding recruiting from abroad and really, time difference is the worst for those recruiting in America from Asia or Australia.
Before recruiting, I never had an interview via Skype. The most important thing to do when interviewing from Skype is to make sure to test out the camera before the interview - make sure your chair is placed in a position where your full upper-body can be seen on the screen. Also make sure there is nothing behind you, it's best if there is just a plain wall.
A Skype interview is very different than an in-person interview. It is a lot easier in an in-person interview to feel the part - you're in an interview room with your interviewer and you are speaking directly to a person. Over Skype, you are in a different environment, most likely your own room, and you are speaking through a screen. This was one of my biggest problems with Skype, as I get most of my energy from having a person physically in front of me speaking with me. The best you can do in this situation is to just continually focus on the interview and try to find other ways to get energy and connect, whether it's listening to music seconds before the interview or practicing in the mirror right before.
Of course, there are also benefits to Skype interviews. Personally, I enjoyed wearing my Sperrys with my skirt suit, they're definitely more comfortable than heels! It also takes less time to prepare for the interview - you just need to make sure you're seated in front of your computer at the time of the interview. You don't have to worry about finding the office building, knowing how long it takes to get to the location, etc.
Recruiting Is Definitely Possible From Abroad.
Recruiting is definitely still possible from abroad and while it is something to think about before choosing to study abroad during that important semester, it should definitely not be a deciding factor solely based on the thought that it is impossible to recruit from abroad or you won't get good interviews or anything like that. If there's a will there's a way. If you want to study abroad senior year and you want a full-time job when you graduate, you can still have both of those. You may have to work a little harder, but it is definitely possible.
Last month I went home with Zac for a weekend to Ballarat. It was about an hour and a half by train from Melbourne and was a nice getaway from the city for the weekend. His family was lovely and it was nice to have a home-cooked meal for a change, too. I think it's definitely worth visiting the smaller, lesser known cities in the country you're studying in because there is still a lot to take away from those cities, too, in addition to the well-known cities.
The Ballarat Gold Rush!
Ballarat played a big part in the Victorian Gold Rush back in the 1850's and Ballarat has a well-known outside museum called Sovereign Hill which recreates the Gold Rush era. It's a big tourist attraction for the city.
While I didn't have the chance to go there, the highlight of the weekend was definitely going to the Ballarat Wildlife Park. I was able to pet multiple kangaroos, an emu, a koala and a snake. I was able to essentially see all of the Australian wildlife (finally) in one place!
At first, the kangaroos seemed really scary - some were pretty big!! I didn't have food to give them, so once I went near them and they figured out I had no food, they lost interest and laid back down. Some made some really cute faces. There were a few joeys and we came across one kangaroo with a joey in its pouch. It was actually pretty scary looking, because just the tail and one foot was hanging out of the pouch.
When we were looking at the koalas, there was one that had a little baby koala attached to its front. It's the same way monkeys carry their babies - it was so cute!
And of course the emu. I was afraid to touch it at first because their beaks look extremely sharp and I didn't feel like getting pecked! But once Zac pet one, I pet it and it was fine. Apparently emus make a deep sound, almost like drums, when they're walking around. It was pretty cool, but pretty weird, too! It wasn't a sound I expected them to make.
Casually Playing UNO... At the Bar
Of course, I had to experience the Ballarat nightlife. So we went to one of the karaoke bars to meet up with some of Zac's friends on Saturday night. By the end of the night, hard core games of UNO were being played... at the bar. I'm pretty sure I can say that is both the first and last time I will ever see or take part in a game of UNO at a bar.
All in all, it was an interesting weekend and I'm happy I made the trip out to Ballarat! Below are a few more pictures from the park!
I don't think anyone can disagree with the fact that the best part about studying abroad is the abroad part and the opportunity to see more of the country you're studying in or neighbouring countries. This past weekend I embarked on my first extended Australian trip to the Northern Territory and outback Australia. To sum up the trip in one word - incredible.
Using budget airline Tiger Airways, three other girls and I were able to get a relatively cheap flight to Alice Springs. We then bought a discounted three day tour with The Rock Tour. While food was fairly expensive in the city, it was still a relatively inexpensive trip.
Before arriving, I didn't quite know what to expect out of the city. While it was very flat, there were still surprisingly quite a few shops/stores. And it was sunny and hot - a nice change from the winterish Melbourne weather. There also seemed to be lots of jobs available - people come and go and work while they stay before moving on to the next place on their list. It's a very laid back city and everyone was friendly. Surprisingly, I didn't mean a single American the whole trip - I'm usually never the only one! There were heaps of English and German folks though, especially on our tour.
While in town we checked out the Botanical Gardens and went atop Anzac hill to watch the sunset over Alice Springs. It was so pretty!
The Rock Tour.
My main reason for wanting to go out to Alice Springs was to check out Ayer's Rock (Uluru). With the tour, 19 of us were able to hike King's Canyon, walk through Kata Tjuta and do a base walk of Uluru, viewing it at both sunrise and sunset. While parts of the hikes were really strenuous in the heat, it was good fun. It was exactly how I pictured the desert to look - dry with lots of red sand. I was bummed that we didn't see much wildlife, but I still have time!
King's Canyon was pretty neat - we started the hike going up a hill called Heart Attack Hill. The name suited it - after getting to the top with my 7.5kg backpack on, I wanted to die. That was the worst part though and from there on, it got better. There was an amazing echo throughout the canyon and we were able to see fossilised ripples of water from when the area was once covered by water. Our guide also told us that a species of fern extremely close to a species found in Darwin can be found in the canyon, indicating the rainforest once extended all the way down from Darwin to King's Canyon - really amazing since it's so far away!
The first night, we stopped on the side of the road to get firewood and then drove off to our campsite in a remote area for the night. No bathrooms or running water. The guys quickly got a campfire going and we laid out our swags around the fire. Basically, a swag is like a heavy duty sleeping bag with a cushion at the bottom. Each side zips up to the top where there is a "monster flap" as our guide called it that we could put over our faces while sleeping to attempt to keep "monsters" away. Essentially, anything could crawl in while I slept. But it was okay though, since when I looked up, I could see millions of stars and the Milky Way Galaxy. Our group also took turns helping to cook dinner using coals from the fire!
The second night I even saw two shooting stars. It was just amazing. It was the first time I've ever slept outside in the open like that and it was so much better than I anticipated.
We also did a hike through Kata Tjuta. It was a lot less work than the King's Canyon hike. Many aboriginal rituals were held in Kata Tjuta and the Valley of Winds. It's a bit difficult to imagine how these sacred areas were used and I definitely plan to do more research on this. Before the end of our Kata Tjuta hike, our guide pointed out bush plums. I tried one - very gross but high in Vitamin C. Afterward, we checked out the Aboriginal cultural centre and learned a bit more about aboriginal culture and the symbols.
Uluru was beautiful. I never could've imagined a rock could be so enchanting. At sunset it's bright red. Breathtaking. And the silhouette at sunrise was spectacular. Instead of going to the sunrise viewing area, our guide took us back to the sunset viewing area so we could see the colour change from the same view as the night before. None of the ither tours do that, but I'm happy we did. But better than Uluru at sunset and sunrise, there is just so much history around it. It's very sacred for the aboriginals and it is said that every mark on Uluru has it's own story. It's just incredible.
When we did our walk around Uluru, we saw many people climbing it. Some tours even advertise that they climb it. Our guide, rightfully so, was against climbing it. First of all, it's sacred to the natives and they prefer if people do not climb. Second, the footpath that people use to climb up is eroding the rock - looking at it, there's a white path going all the way up from where people continuously walk (you can see it in the picture). Third, although you can see for kilometres at the top, all there is to see is flat desert. Nothing that great. It's not worth disrespecting a sacred monument of another culture.
On our way back from Uluru to Alice Springs, we stopped at a camel farm. It was my first time riding a camel. It was so bumpy and a bit painful, especially when the camels started running. Still awesome riding one though!
Great Trip, Great People.
If you plan on seeing the great Australian outback, I'd highly recommend doing The Rock Tour. It was a great value for what we did and our guide, Nate, was awesome. After the tour, we were able to go with our group to The Rock Bar to enjoy food and drink specials, along with some live music. Some drank a bit more than others. But hey, after giving a three day tour, guess he deserved it!!
I've been a bit preoccupied with life lately and thoroughly enjoying my time in Australia. As a result, this post has been a long time coming. A few of the highlights of the past couple of weeks include another night spent at the Luna1878 night market, an australian gig and a trip with friends to Phillip Island.
The next weekend, I went on a trip to Phillip Island with 7 others. We rented a private beach house. It was a nice break from Melbourne and the city, although I do wish we could've stayed longer. We spent a lot of time down on the beach. We went for walks, played catch, played soccer and a couple of guys brought a guitar and mandolin. The weather was PERFECT for being the first couple days of spring! I even went into the ocean. It was a bit chilly though. On Saturday night we went down to see the Fairy Penguins, also known as little penguins. They we TINY but so cute!!! It was so awesome seeing them wash up on the shore then waddle through the rocks to get to their burrows. We also saw a kangaroo up on the hill while we we watching the penguins - my first kangaroo sighting! Overall, It was just an amazing weekend spent with amazing people. Definitely one of the highlights of my time here so far.
While going for a run in the park a few weekends ago, I noticed there are TONS of wild parrots in Melbourne. They're noisy, but beautiful. I knew there were parrots here, but I didn't actually see them until then. They drove the dogs in the park nuts - they stopped at the bottom of the tree and kept barking at them. I've seen quite a few more since then - they seem to be out closer to dusk, it's interesting!
I'm falling more and more in love with Australia every day and this has been one of the best decisions of my life deciding to come here. I can't complain about a single thing, this place is awesome.
At this point, I'm about a third of the way through my program here at University of Melbourne and I'd like to take the time to explain in more detail my experience in regard to classes/school and how it compares to NYU. Also, on a side note, University of Melbourne has been ranked the #1 university in Australia this year!
Course Load - Credits
**This is from my personal experience and is not indicative of all other subjects or anything - I'm taking Derivative Securities, Management of Financial Institutions, Managing Conflict in the Global Workplace and Change & Conflict in Australian Society.**
**Again, I can only speak for the classes I'm taking, my friends here have had more work that I have.**
While there are quite a few differences between NYU and University of Melbourne, it really hasn't been all that difficult to adjust to so far. I have no complaints and I believe I definitely made the right choice to come here. I have learned so much about Australia already, just from my classes and being in class with local students! It's exactly what I wanted! I hope this could be a help to those considering possibly studying abroad in Australia or University of Melbourne from America!
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