There is nothing quite like viewing the sun rise from the other side of the world. When I first landed in the western hemisphere that is all I could think of as I viewed the blazing sun through the airplane window. It was as if the sun was rising in welcoming to newest part of my life. Study abroad has been an experience that I have been looking forward to since the stages of picking a college and an experience that I will forever talk about as one of the most significant after I leave Australia. It is with this thought process that I arrived in Melbourne to begin the semester of university that is not quite like anything else in my life.
The first week in Australia was International Orientation week. The presentations went for days about safety from wildlife (deadly spiders), transportation around the city, and Australian mentality. Everyday was full of activities and adjustment to the time difference was not too kind. Organized trips into Melbourne consisted of lots of public transportation. A bus to a train and sometimes even a tram are used to get to different destinations in the city. We went to a beautiful place on the South Yarra River and another night we went to the Victorian Market, which is an open air market with live music. On our free day of International Orientation we decided to investigate the beach. We took another lengthy public transportation ride to Brighton Beach where they have colorful bathhouses. It was crazy to think that we were in bathing suits when our American homes are covered in snow.
During the first week, we also had to pick classes. I am taking three core classes and Children’s Literature for my major. My friend Sam and I were lucky to take all the same classes and be placed in the same lecture and tutorial times for each class. Once we had our schedules, the two of us adventured around campus to locate all of the classes before school started. Monash’s campus is significantly larger than Loyola and we did not want to get too lost or be late for our first days of university abroad.
Following International Orientation week, Monash also has Orientation Week or “O-Week” for its first year students. International students are considered first year students and participate in the O-Week activities. Each residence hall has its own activities and O-Week staff. I live in Richardson Hall or “Richo” with five other girls from Loyola. We quickly met many of the students living in our hall and surprisingly the ice breakers are very similar to the ones we play for orientation at Loyola. It was strange to think that I am considered a first year but when I leave Australia, I will be going to lead these same ice breakers for my final year on orientation staff at Loyola.
In an effort to familiarize us with the city, our Richo O-Week staff had us organized into teams to go on a scavenger hunt throughout Melbourne. We had to perform ridiculous tasks such as make pyramids, exchange clothes with the opposite sex, and clip clothes pins on strangers while simultaneously spotting other Richo groups and making them doing a goofy moose motion in the middle of the streets of Melbourne. The scavenger hunt was a great way to have us become acquainted with the people in our hall and also offered insight into the mentality of Australians. Walking around the city and feeling somewhat embarrassed, the Australians in Melbourne were not fazed by our large group antics and were friendly when asked to assist in any of the tasks. When everything seemed so foreign, it is comforting to know that the people are welcoming.