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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


St. Kilda Beach.

More to follow!


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