Contact with home has proved to be much more difficult than I imagined it would be, it's so strange to be almost a full day ahead of everyone. So for those that I haven't had much contact with, here is a brief highlight of some of the activities that have been occupying my last two weeks.
One of the first things that we did with the international orientation was a trip into Melbourne, and we were introduced to the nightmare that is public transport. It takes almost an hour of bus to train to tram to get most places in the city. Thankfully Loyola took pity on us and gave us monthly met cards so that we don't have to work out which passes to buy every time that we go, otherwise we would never make it anywhere. My map reading skills are also rapidly improving, as well as my willingness to ask for help and direction. Getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk forty minutes through suburbs at midnight will do that to you.
The city is so eclectic and vibrant that it is absolutely worth the risks. We still have to take a day to wander through on our own and really explore it ourselves, but we have also been shown some really fun places. One Wednesday night they took us to an outdoor market with an amazing live band, food stalls, and all kinds of fun things on sale. It was a chaotic mess of people dancing, singing, and hanging around the tables and seats under the pavilion.
We also took our own trips down to Brighton Beach, which was definitely worth the trek. Known for their bright houses that line one section of the shoreline, it was an amazing switch from the snow and wind that we left behind on the East coast. The first time we went wasn't that sunny, but the second time was absolutely beautiful. It is rocky and from one vantage point you can see the dusky outline of the city in the distance.
Once the first year student orientation began, we had to do all kinds of fun "dorm building activities." One day we ran through the city on a scavenger hunt, snapping photos
doing all kinds of things such as "run in with the police" and human pyramids. It was interesting to say the least. Their student activities fair put Loyola's to shame, with all kinds of free food and hand outs, not to mention performances and millions of tents ranging from the metals club (whaaa?) to sports clubs, guitar club, and so many more. We all joined MESS (Monash Engineering Science Society) because they told us that they had the most fun events and BBQs. We couldn't resist.
This past Saturday they took us to the Healesville Sanctuary where we got to see all kinds of wildlife. It was so strange to hear that their common country animals are koalas and kangaroos. Seeing all of the animals was definitely worth the bug bites. We even got to see a shy platypus waddle out of the water and straight into the bushes. The Tasmanian Devil was also really cool to see. They took us on a tour and then we sat through a bird show and an aboriginal boomerang show. It was unbelievable that this was as common as any nature camp at home would be for us. We were all as impressed as the little children that were being carried around on their parents shoulders.
Coming up we have a trip into Sydney this weekend with an itinerary packed full of beaches, sight seeing, a mountain trip, and the Mardi Gras celebration in the city. I'm sure I'll get some interesting pictures from that.