Oh man, if I knew what I was getting into when I flew into Melbourne during the beginning of semester, I would have studied abroad a LONG time ago! Thanks to the Gilman Scholarship, I have been able to afford cost-of-living (but still below San Francisco!): inexpensive student housing, food, and transportation around the CBD. If it weren’t for the Gilman Scholarship, I wouldn’t be here!
As a native San Francisco, I honestly had no expectations for Melbourne. I didn’t know how much of a cultural hub it was for the entire continent of Australia. I know Melbourne had street art, but I had no idea to what extent! Endless laneways in the CBD, Richmond, Carlton, Fitzroy, and Collingwood suburbs that I have gotten lost in just to stare at the amazing amount of murals from artists from all over the world. Melbourne is easily compared to San Francisco with their cultural and artistic vibes. Everyone is so humble, just immersed in their work and hoping to spread their good message to the world without judgment. I have yet to meet a Melburnian art/culture snob; everyone has been so friendly! I have attended endless arts and crafts markets almost every week and can see how proud Melbourne artists are with their work. Quality is key, and they sure do bring it to the table when it comes to markets such as the Makers and Shakers Market (Coburg) or Mark-It (twice yearly at The Atrium in Federation Square). It has been my favorite thing about living in Melbourne so far!
It’s insane how we think five-six months abroad is a long time, but really – in a huge place such as this – there never is enough time! I’ve enjoyed so much that Melbourne has to offer, such as seeing a competitive game of footy (Australian Football) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I watched Collingwood vs. Carlton (competitive rivals!), where Carlton took the W for this one. So much fun hanging out with friends and experiencing the lively crowd!
Of course, no Australia trip is complete without a try at surfing. I wasn’t so much scared of sharks as I was about the huge waves. I tried to attend the world-renounced Rip Curl Surf Competition at Bells Beach, but unfortunately, it ended a few days earlier than when I go to Torquay. Nonetheless, I had massive amounts of fun hangin’ with the Aussies and Exchange Students at the beach, learning to surf – and almost getting all the way up on the board! Torquay is beautiful, even with the cloudy weather I had during the weekend I went. The wetsuit protects well against cold ocean water, and the Roxy/Quicksilver and Rip Curl Outlets right around the corner were one of the highlights that weekend! $10 Roxy bathing suits?! Come on. We did it the real Aussie way with Tasmanian deck of cards and endless Tim Tams that night in our beach house Airbnb.
Sadly, it’s now Winter, but I will be traveling the East Coast after school ends. From Sydney, to Gold Coast, to Brisbane and Cairns, the adventure never ends! Cheers!