Week 2 & 3: Wildlife and museums

After an eventful first week, the second proved to be just as busy.

Tuesday afternoon we went to the Victorian Parliament. It was a beautiful colonial building with lits of influences from ancient Greece. We were taken on a tour through the building and got to see nearly everything. We were allowed to sit down in the chairs were the politicians usually debate. The tourguide was very helpful and knew nearly everything. For example, did you know that the gold decorations alone in the building had a value of over $AU2.5 million?
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The parliament from the front

Wednesday we had class in the morning and in the afternoon we went to the museum to see some Aboriginal art. We didn’t stay for too long, but we did get to see most of it.
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One of the displayed pieces

Thursday we started off by going to Healesville sanctuary, a place where people take wild animals that have been injured and where they will get healed. They have a big hospital, but also a zoo which allows people to not only see, but also to interact with the animals. If you so choose, you can purchase an extra ticket to, for example, pet a kangaroo or feed a dingo.

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Me petting a kangaroo with Danielle

Friday was fairly uneventful, but we did meet with Josh from the friendly backpacker. He is going to help us plan our trip in our week of, and this is when he showed us all the brochures with recommendations for things we should do or see. That night, a large part of the group set out to once again explore a bit more of Melbourne’s nightlife.

Saturday was spent playing some soccer and football and by writing my biology essay. Sunday I went to the beach with some friends.

Monday afternoon we did the golden mile. This is a tour through Melbourne which takes you to all the important museums and landmarks. We didn’t go in the museums, but now we at least know were they are. Most of the museums were old colonial buildings which blended in quite nicely with the modern skyscrapers.

Tuesday we went to cape Shanck. This is a national park were we explored the tidepools. These are small pools in rocks which overflow when the tide sets in but are easily explored when its low tide. There will then still be a lot of water left in the pools, making KT very easy to spot the wildlife in them. It made a very interesting scene.
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The tidepools on the right and a small island on the left.

After visiting the tidepools we went to bushranger bay. While hiking towards the beach, we spotted a few echidnas in the wild. The beach was lovely. It had soft, white sand and the sea was warm. There were nice, big waves on which we could bodysurf. We had lots of fun.

Wednesday was your typical study day. The morning and afternoon we spent in class, and after school I tried to work on my essays for a bit.

Right now it’s Thursday, and I’m in the train towards Bendigo, were we will visit several museums.

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Week 1: Kangaroos and Beaches

It has now been exactly one week since the group and I have departed from SeaTac airport. After 3 more flights, we arrived in Australia at Thursday morning, Melbourne time. I was afraid my jetlag was going to be real bad, as I had visited 3 continents in just 2 days, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as expected. Apparently sleeping on the plane and having a few introductory drinks with your new friends really helps for getting over one. I think it took me a little less than 2 days to get over it.

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Newman college

In Australia we are staying at Newman College. It is a beautiful colonial monastery that includes a church, lots of bedrooms and a large dining hall. I was fortunate enough to get one of the smallest rooms. However, it is located on the third floor and has quite a spacious balcony which gives me a real nice view of the courtyard.

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The view from my balcony.

After getting used to both our group and the bedrooms in Thursday, the day offered a few more activities. The universities campus was shown to us as were a few shops and restaurants in the area. We were also introduced to Melbourne’s tram system, which is a lot like the ones found in the big cities in the Netherlands. It has proved to be a great way to get around the city.

Friday was another eventful day. We were sent on a scavenger hunt through the city of Melbourne. We were asked to find landmarks and take pictures with them. We also needed to answer some questions which required us interacting with the locals, as making use of the internet was forbidden. The group I was in was the only group that was able to find all landmarks and take pictures of them, although we did end up getting back around half an hour after the time they wanted us back.

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Federation square, one of the landmarks.

That evening, we did that what Aussies do best: we had a barbeque. It was a great way to get to know the group, and the food offered was delicious. This is when I had my first encounter with a kangaroo, nicely cut into a steak and between two buns. The meat is very lean and tasted a bit more salty than regular beef. I have yet to meet a living kangaroo, although I have a strong suspicion that is going to happen later this week. I have seen a few Possums and some very large bats though.

After that,  large part of the group, myself included, went out to experience Melbourne’s nightlife. One thing to note if you are ever planning on visiting nightclubs in Melbourne, is that alcoholic beverages are very expensive. Take for example a shot of tequila (10$Aud) or a glass of beer (5$Aud). Drinking here is an expensive hobby.

On Saturday, we were told to go see the beach. As we arrived there, it was a bit chilly and we decided that we were better off in the city. Three others and I decide to rent some bikes and explore the city that way. The city is very bike-friendly, however it does take some time to get used to driving on the left.

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Melbourne’s skyline as seen from a bicycle bridge.

Sunday three of us decided to go back to the beach and experience it while the temperature was a bit more forgiving (40°C/100°F). The beach is great, the water is warm and the people are very friendly

Monday is when the classes started. We didn’t really get a warm up day, we landed right in it. Tuesday was the same, and after going back to the beach in the afternoon and arriving too late for the movie shown that night, I am now writing this blog from the courtyard while getting stung by a few dozen musquitos.

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St. Kilda Beach.

More to follow!

Almost there!

During winter break I went home to the Netherlands for Christmas and New Year’s. I got to see my family again and I spent a lot of time with my friends. Christmas with the family was great, everyone wants to know everything about your stay abroad and you end up telling everything about five times. I spent New Year’s with my friends and had one of the most wonderful nights with them yet.

 

On the fourth of January I had my first flight, back to the US. It was the first of four flights I need to get to Australia. I spent a night in a hotel in Seattle and as I am writing this I am at the airport waiting for my second flight, from Seattle to LA. I have met up with the group and we are all set to go. After this flight I will be halfway done. From LA we will fly to Auckland, New Zealand and from there we will fly to Melbourne. Total flight time for me: 32 hours. Wish me luck…