By Christine Wheaton
I have always known that I wanted to study abroad.
What I didn’t know when I was younger was where I wanted to go. I guess that I’d always assumed that I would go to Europe. Then, somehow, that shifted to Australia. Now I can’t imagine having this experience anywhere else.
I have been a student at the University of Melbourne for two months now. My classes are amazing, but what has really made these the best two months of my life is what has happened outside of the classroom.
Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world as of this year. This is one place where exploring the alleys is actually a good idea–they’re called laneways and they contain everything from cafés to detailed artwork. Performers dance and play music up and down the streets of the central business district and people picnic on the lawn of the Victoria State Library whenever the weather is nice.
I got my first taste of Melbourne during the welcome program in the first week, but it is with my friends that I have really gotten to know the city that I now call home.
My friends here have become my family. The group is a mixture of exchange students and first years from all over the world. Together, we have explored the city and surrounding areas.
The Queen Victoria Market is open every Wednesday night during the summer. On one of those nights I tried a kangaroo burger and crocodile kebab. Another time, I ended up salsa dancing in the street to one of the live bands.
Fairy penguins, the smallest species of penguin in the world, come out of the water just after sunset each night at St. Kilda Beach. I got to see them hopping amongst the rocks. After we’d watched them for awhile, we walked to the tram to take us back to the city. On our way off of the pier, we saw an enormous shooting star. We got back to the city in time to watch fireworks at a festival. It was a very good Monday.
St. Kilda’s also has a special place in my heart because we went there one night for my friend’s birthday. She decided that she wanted to spend the night on the beach. I thought she was joking….and then we actually did. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the sunrise over the water because we were chased off of the beach by a sand-cleaner.
The following weekend, I did actually get to see the sunrise over the ocean when I was on a road-trip along The Great Ocean Road. During the weekend, kangaroos hopped across the road in front of our car and we spotted koalas in the trees. We saw the tourist sites like the 12 Apostles and London Bridge, but it was the unplanned moments that were the most memorable, like climbing into a cave near a boat dock.
There is honestly so much more I could write about my experience here. Not to sound cliché, but each day I have spent here has been an adventure.
I’m not sure what I expected, but Australia is better than I could have imagined.