Left home on Wednesday January 15th to head to the Airport to catch 1:30am flight on the 16th. Met up with Dayna, Carleigh and Haley at the airport! Got the cutest gift from Emily and the family of a build a bear with an adorable voice recorded message from them all. Endured a painful 15 our flight to Hong Kong, where I took a sleeping pill and was actually able to sleep most of the way! So weird when its 3am and the airline comes around and tries to feed everyone dinner. Nasty dinner might I add, all the food was absolutely disgusting. Best part of the entire flying experience was the Haagen Dazs we were given! Hung out in Hong Kong airport for a little while, but wasn’t too exciting. Boarded the 9 hour flight to Melbourne! This flight was painful. Legs were getting swollen, couldn’t and didn’t really want to fall asleep and kept getting a bit of a bloody nose. Finally we arrived in Melbourne. Arrived in Melbounre at 10:30pm on January 17 (basically time travelled) and experienced the nicest lady ever at customs! She told me I was going to love Australia and that Australians and Canadians have very similar sense of humours. Such a change from American and Canadian customs! Unfortunate part of the journey was the amount of trail mix I had to throw out. Before leaving I made an amazing mix and accidentaly brought both the bag I planned to bring and the one I was leaving for the fam. Because of Australias quarantine laws I had to throw it all out upon arriving in the country. Obviously the worst part would be the food I had to throw out…
Airport shuttle provided by the University was super easy to find and took up right to Canada House in Newport. Canada House is a house owned by Richard Baka of Victoria University that is used by the Western exchange students every year. Its pretty neat how inside there are pictures of all the past groups of western students as well as a Canadian flag everyone has signed. I ended up getting a pretty decent bedroom so no complaints there! Air conditioning is broken but thankfully we came the day after the huge heat wave they had and the fans are able to do a pretty decent job.
Week 1 in Melbourne
Day 1: So for the first day Richard came and picked us up from Canada house. After going through house info he took us for a driving tour around the Newport/Williamstown area. This was a neat way to hear all about where we are living and where everything is located (although none of us could remember any of the directions after and ended up getting lost far to many times). It also felt like a pretty crazy car ride because it was on the left side of the street and there are roundabouts literally every turn. Eventually ended up at a grocery store, which was so overwhelming. They don’t have a lot of things in their grocery stores like we do and the prices are much higher on many things. For example bananas are like $4 or more a kg. No baby carrots, eggs are not refrigerated, only instant coffee or espresso, no powdered or frozen juice (made a foul out of ourselves asking that one) and peppers are called capsicums.
The rest of week 1 we kind of just spent the time exploring Melbourne. Spent lots of time walking around the city (which is super neat by the way), spent a day trying to get to Williamstown which is like a 20 min walk that took us over an hour because we went the wrong way (woops).
Coming to Melbourne at the time that we did we all knew the Aussie Open was definitely a thing we had to go to! So we checked the weather and bought tickets for a day it was going to be nice out! Just bought a ground pass which was like $30 and didn’t get us acess to the big arenas but oh well! Throughout the first week we often found ourselves at Federation Square where they broadcasted the Aus Open on the big TV. The square was full of people just watching the matches and tons of promotors were around. Tennis is quite a big event here! Going to the open we all knew we wanted to buy hats. But not just any hat, we all wanted the blue one we saw people wearing all over town. When we first arrived at the grounds we went on a mission to find the hats. After going to several shops that were all sold out we had almost lost hope but one last shop and we found a couple left! Success. The grounds for the grand slam tournament were really neat and there was tons to do. We watched a few matches, watched Rafa Nadal practice and kinda just hung out! The Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was playing this day but we were unable to get into the big stadium she was in.
So now its Wednesday, its been a week since we left home and me and Dayna were itching to go and see the real Australia we envisioned. Being in Melbourne is fantastic and I cannot wait to spend the semester living here but I really wanted to see the Australia I envisioned and the beaches etc you see photographed everywhere. So after contacting Sam Clarke, a fellow Western student who did the same exchange as us and now lives in Sydney as a travel agent we had our east coast trip booked! (wasn’t as easy as that because our budget was so strict it took us hours to cut it down to a reasonable price where we could still do everything we wanted). After getting approval (and borrowing the credit card since my limit is so small) of my parents we were set and planned to leave 2 days later just in time for Australia day!
BTW the coffee here is amazing. Actually in heaven with the cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites and long blacks (americanos) they have to offer – although super expensive