A few weeks ago my friends Cindy, Camila, and Camila’s two German friends took a trip down the Great Ocean Road. This road followed the coastline of Australia and is one of Victoria’s biggest tourist attraction.
It was very windy and at times I almost felt a bit sick but the view from the road was breath taking. There were multiple beaches that you could stop at and cliff sides were you could overlook the ocean. There were lots of places to take some great photos.
We also stopped at a couple national parks and walked down many trails. We saw huge waterfalls and I even spotted a wild Koala bear!
At sunset we observed the 12 Apostles (7 now because of erosion) which was a trademark of the Great Ocean Road. It was amazing!
At night we drove around in the attempt to spot some wild kangaroos. The only wildlife we spotted though was a baby calf who had escaped from the farm and was in the middle of the road. The country side of Australia was beautiful and it was refreshing to get away from the city life for a couple days.
On this day a few of my friends and I went to one of Melbourne’s most famous beaches; Brighton Beach.
It was one of the first warm days that I had experienced here and it was a perfect day to go to the beach. The sunlight glistened off the blue water and the sand was very soft. I even saw a starfish for the first time and it was purple!
The beach was lined with colorful storage houses and you could see the skyline of Melbourne from the place where we stopped for lunch.
I hope to go back to Brighton Beach again soon.
On this day we got on a tour bus and were taken a few hours out of Melbourne to see some of Australia’s famous wildlife & wineries. The first stop was at a wildlife sanctuary. At the sanctuary we got to see kangaroos, koala Bears, and many other Australian wildlife.
The second stop was at a winery in the Yarra Valley. The vineyard was surrounded by mountains and it was absolutely beautiful. Having a glass of wine or a beer at dinner is pretty standard in Australia. The drinking age is set at 18 years old here. We got to try a variety of Australian wines and had a delicious dinner. Afterwards we got to practice our boomerang skills and played on the traditional Aboriginal instrument; the didgeridoo. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t very good at either.
Being from the Midwest I haven’t got to experience a lot of beaches during my lifetime. St. Kilda was my first Australian beach that I got to discover. Although it was not as warm as I had imaged (Melbourne’s spring last until late November) it was absolutely beautiful. We bought food and had dinner on the beach.
We watched the sunset from the beach and played games all night. The European students taught me how to play some of their traditional games and we all laughed so hard it hurt sometimes. It was a great night.
All of the international students had to go through a week long orientation at the Swinburne University of Technology. It was a lot of boring information but they tried to make it as fun as possible. They even taught us about the Australian culture and Aussie slang. Although I come from an English background, you would be surprised how many Aussie words you have never heard of (dodgy, bloke, etc). During the day they gave us a tour of the campus and showed us where our classes would be held. Swinburne’s campus is a lot smaller than UC’s but its very modern and easy to navigate.
Throughout the week a group called “Swinmates” held different events to help the international students get to know each other. I met students from all over the world (Europe, Asia, South America). It was very interesting to learn about the different cultures from around the world and compare them to your own.
During the last day of orientation they held a scavenger hunt that was located within the city of Melbourne. The point of this was to teach us how to use Melbourne’s public transportation and learn about the different things that the city had to offer. During this time I started to form a circle of international friends who have been my friends throughout this whole experience so far.
Now that I have finally moved in and things have slowed down a little bit I can write about my experience so far here in Australia. I choose the Swinburne Student Exchange program at UC because I didn’t want to go with a big group of students like a study abroad program. I wanted to go by myself in order to fully experience the Australian culture.
The flight from Cincinnati to Melbourne, Australia was over 25 hours! I thought it would never end. On the plane I started to get a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before we landed I was filled with excitement to see the city of Melbourne next to the bay from the sky above.
When I landed, I was taken to my hostel downtown by my airport pick-up service. As we drove through downtown I was fascinated by the Victorian architecture which was contrasted by tall modern skyscrapers. The people of Melbourne were very fashionable and had a very unique European style. The hostel I stayed in was filled with travelers from all over the world.
Once I got settled in I went out to explore. One of the first things I noticed in the city was the alleyways. Many of them were filled with graffiti and street art. Others were filled with outdoor cafés, small restaurants, and shops. I was in love!
As I walked through downtown I could hear a faint Lady Gaga song playing from a distant. When I followed the music I arrived in the center of Melbourne right in the middle of a fashion show. There were models in crazy outfits walking the runways to Lady Gaga’s music. These were my first moments of Melbourne.