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Posts Tagged ‘Deakin Uni’

Today, as the title suggests, is my last day in Melbourne, Australia. This is also my last week for officially blogging for ODU. I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow and start my Queensland expedition. I am ripe with anticipation. At the same time, saying farewell the place I’ve grown so accustomed to is never easy.

Last week I wrote a good-bye letter the #75 Tram. However, I unjustly left out a few other aspects of my everyday Melbourne life I took for granted. So on this final day, I wish to formally bid adieu to the following:

The Walk To/From Deakin

Four days a week I made this trek that was too short to tram and too long to walk. My daily plans revolved around the walk. I refused to make the walk more than once a day. Therefore, the entire day’s school-related activities fell between the walk to and from Deakin Uni.

The Bottle-O

This local “convenient store” is situated just a few short steps away from the house. Being most convenient on the weekend (or after a long day of classes), our house became valued customers. I once thought their prices to be heinous, only to realize they have some of the most average prices in Australia.

Deakin YMCA

Surprisingly, this gym reminded me of home. Going to the gym provided a comfortable routine in my life. What’s more, seeing the majority of patrons concentrate on the bench press/bicep curls, gave a feeling just like any American gym. While I won’t miss paying $22 every two weeks for a membership, I will miss the friendly staff that took the time to almost remember my name.

The Nightrider

This late-night bus is the awkward cousin of the tram. Businessmen ride the tram with their briefcases and parents take it with their children for a day in the city. The tram is respectable. The Nightrider, which operates until 5am on the weekends, is not.

Typical Nightrider rides consist of, but are not limited to, 16 year-olds trying to pawn (allegedly) recently bought boxes of wine, Dr. Phil-esque relationship discussions, sharing of Hungry Jack’s or Maccas fries, or big group sing-alongs.

Even with all of the outrageous antics of the Nightrider, there is always one given, making it home safe and sound.

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Believe it or not, people that come to study abroad actually have to, get this, study. This has been a recent shock to me, seeing as how I hadn’t touched a schoolbook since December. Anyhow, it is almost a quarter of the way through the trimester and I have yet to discuss Deakin and the classes in any kind of detail.

My situation here is pleasantly unique, I truly only have one class I need to pass in order to graduate after this term. Teachers, do not fret, I am only describing my rare situation that I have been afforded. I will still, of course, give the same dynamite work that has been expected of me in semesters past.

Because I am in the second semester of my 5th year, most of credits and core classes have been completed. I only need my one Communication class here, Principles of Public Relations, to satisfy my degree. This incredible anomaly has left the rest of my schedule open for three other classes of my choice. And I, in noble fashion, decided to take a few Australian history classes. What better way to become acquainted with a country’s culture than to divulge in its rich history?

Note: When in an Australia history class, Americans are expected to know the complete American history. Ex. “What was happening on the other side of the world during 1892? Mr. Washington would you like to tell the class?” Um.

Nevertheless, this is what I have observed about Australian classes thus far:

Classes are split between lectures and tutorials. Lectures are usually in a large auditorium setting. Tutorials are the follow-up to lectures. They are in smaller classrooms with fewer students. The tutorial is a great way to reinforce what was taught in the lecture, and in a more personal setting (the lectures are about 60-100 people and the tutorials are roughly 15-30 people).

Much like in America, classes are based on a good amount of reading. And, much like in America, it is easy to be tempted by various vices (i.e. naps, catching rays, beer, the Australian version of “The View”) and fall behind in the readings. By following the readings, it becomes much easier to participate in class. Although on the other side of the world, classes still remain similar to those at Old Dominion.

And now, please come along on a pictorial walking tour of Deakin Uni

The traffic I must cross everyday. Hmm looks a bit like Hampton Blvd.

Entrance #2

The Cheese-grader, a staple of Deakin.

Just some quad.

Einstein’s aka the uni bar.

Fantastic library.

The glorious B building. Home of my classes.

A walkway

Another great cafe

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(adjusting to Australia)

Before I left for Australia I purchased a brand new pair of sandals. Note: sandals are often referred to as “thongs” here, so that can provide many awkward moments.  When I first arrived in Australia, my sandals were harsh, rigid, and uncomfortable. I felt out of place, and my comfort zone had been smashed. The straps of the sandals dug in to my feet, mocking me. “Go back home,” the sandals would sneer. “Where are your precious socks and sneakers you’re so used to?”  Quiet sandals, I will adjust.

My spirits were nearly broken after the first few days. Still, I knew I had to press on. As the days and weeks passed, my sandals started to become worn in. It takes time to break in a new pair of sandals. It takes time adjust to a new place. I have been here for over a month and now there is a definite footprint in the sole. I am more confident and at ease, sometimes even brash. I can jaywalk without the overwhelming fear of being struck by a car going some absurd direction. I talk using the metric system. “It’s 100 meters that way. Pick up that five kilogram chair. Those M&Ms have far too many kilojoules for my diet.” I even claim to understand the intricate game of cricket.

Alas, there are still a few aspects of Australia that I may never understand.

Saying “Yes” To Everything

While going against everything I have learned in D.A.R.E., all those associated with studying abroad will tell you to always say “yes.” This is, apparently, the best way to truly experience a culture. At first I was a skeptic. I was stubborn and convinced I could do it all myself. It did not take long to see I was missing out. I bought a ticket on the “yes” plane, hopped aboard, and never looked back. Do you want to go to the mall? Yes. Do you want to go on a mystery bus tour? Yes. Do you want to go on a spear fishing journey? YES!

Deakin Website

When one goes to college, one begins to build a relationship with that college’s website. It can take years for one to fully understand how to operate the various uses of the college’s website i.e., email, blackboard, signing up for classes, and so on. I believe college is meant to be four years long for the sole reason of grasping the magnitude of a school’s complicated web system. And when one goes to study abroad, one is supposed to learn an entirely new system in a matter of weeks. This becomes a giant headache. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to hunt down the top IT people so I can access my email. Now I must come to grips with the fact that it is simply impossible to learn a new school’s website in one semester.

The 5th Year

In the states, the 5th year is commonplace. In fact, I’ve been told graduating in six years is the new four. Not here. The university system is based on graduating in three years. Needless to say, when I explain how I am not going to be a doctor, yet still in my 5th year, some look befuddled. Australians please watch Van Wilder.

Internet

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Australia is their Internet restrictions. As a Communications major, it is my job to engulf as much digital media as humanly possible. This means spending hours upon hours on sites like Hulu and Youtube. Here, a site like Youtube comes at a premium. Even on campus Internet is pay as you go. I suppose this could be a good thing. Maybe I will finally kick my Internet addiction. Maybe I will use my time in the library to actually study and not watch monkeys teasing tigers. Ehh  maybe some habits are too hard to kick.

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Deakin ESA

Having never studied abroad before, I think it is fair to say that Deakin Uni has the very best orientation committee ever. ESAs, short for Exchange & Study Abroad Assistants, are some of the greatest people on the earth. It is their job to ensure that all of the students studying abroad have an enjoyable transition in to the Melbourne lifestyle.

The ESAs are as diverse as the international student group they lead. Some are locals and some come from the most distant places on the earth. However, they all have something in common, their appreciation for the study abroad experience.

For the first two weeks the ESAs had an event planned for every night. The events range from footy games to festivals to cheap eats to big nights out. The nights have been tremendously fun, albeit, quite taxing on my wallet and liver.

Footy Game

Victorian Night Market

Having a group of peers that are committed to showing as much of the city as possible is priceless. It is almost as if Deakin hired tour guides, of relevant age, that not only can show us where to go, but how to enjoy the venue.

Being thrown in to a city can be overwhelming. No idea where to go, what to do, no good. Yet, getting chaperoned around for a few weeks isn’t the only reason why the ESA program has been a success in my mind. It has also been another great opportunity to meet fellow study abroaders. Let me say this, seeing a bunch of international students trying to sing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” is a great icebreaker.

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