Australia: The Melbourne Welcome Program

So before I got to Australia, I signed up for the “Melbourne Welcome 2012”, an intro program meant to orientate incoming exchange students, to do some fun activities, and to meet our fellow exchange peoples. I didn’t so much need the orientation, but I joined mostly because it seemed like a good idea to meet some cool new people and do some things I might not take the initiative to do myself.

I was one of the first people to arrive since I was already living in my new accommodation which is only a 10 minute walk from the Janet Clarke Hall (JCH), the residential college where we were able to stay for the entirety of the intro week. I started meeting the first people who were arriving in JCH’s recreation room, and more and more people started filling it.

After some time, we had lunch and got split up into Host Groups in order to keep the groups manageable. Our host was Ben: a crazy Asian who, if you know what a wallflower personality type is, take the opposite of that, and you get Ben. I’d best describe him as a disco ball personality: you’ll notice if he’s in the room. It’s pretty good to have a host like that because it brings a lot of energy to the group.

We got to know our group a bit, and then went on a city scavenger hunt. Since I already did a lot of exploring myself on my longboard, I knew most places we went to. In a group, it’s also hard to explore because you have to stay together and know where everyone is going. I just thought the scavenger hunt was more about getting to know each other better. With everyone worn out with travelling and jet leg (some having just arrived on the day), our group half heartedly took part in the trivia at the end of the day, and called it an early night.

On day 2, we went on a little bus ride up north to visit the vineyards, learn about the wine making and, of course, do some wine tasting. The scenery was really beautiful, seeing the vineyards stretch out over the valleys.

After the vineyards, we went to visit the Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo with a lot of native Australian animals. My favorite is probably the platypus because it’s just plain weird. I’d still love to go to the outback and see these creature in their natural environment though. After we came back, we had time to eat dinner, chill and do a bar crawl.

I don’t know about the other colleges, but the meals we had at JCH were pretty decent. There was plenty of variety and sometimes nice desserts as well. I switched my primal diet pickiness off most of the time with these meals although when I had the choice for a ‘gluten free’ meal at the zoo, I just ticked the box… that also made sure I was the first to get served 😉

The chilling times we had at JCH were also quite relaxed. I played a lot of piano because I had the opportunity. I learned chord structures and a few songs as I mentioned in my previous blog. Most of the time I woke up pretty early/on time. I then had time to eat breakfast and practice piano straight after. I was pretty hooked 😛

I also jammed with other people, some really good musicians. With my basic beatboxing and singing I was able to compliment good piano players, creating harmonies and layers to the music. That was really fun, and I definitely hope to be jamming with those people some more 🙂 Apart from music, there was also a pool table and a ping-pong table, so we played a few games on those as well. Good times!

Going out to the bars was pretty fun because we were in such a big group, and there were plenty of cool people to chill with. That night we went to 3 different places who all had a different vibe to them. The last one was definitely meant for dancing, so we broke it down!

On the 3rd day we had a tour of the university, mostly just chilling and walking around. After lunch, we went to visit the North Melbourne Football Club, home of the Australian Football League team the Kangaroos where we learned the basic rules of AFL and also practiced a few techniques of “handballing” and kicking the ball. I really enjoyed it, and I’ll be joining a clinic soon to play a real game! I’m going to watch one anyway, as we got a free ticket to watch the Kangaroos play at the biggest stadium in Melbourne- the MCG.

At the end of this day, we had Salsa and Meringue dancing lessons in the planning. That was really cool! Especially since I already learnt most of the moves before in the Salsa beginners course I took in Rotterdam 😉 It’s actually really fun to dance, and I’d love to take an intermediate/advanced course some time. After we danced, we chilled a bit in the recreation room with the peeps, and went to bed to prepare for the 4th and final day.

The first thing we did after breakfast that day was visit the Eureka tower: the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. That was pretty sick, seeing Melbourne from the sky. You could see all the major landmarks through designated prisms, and walk all around the perimeter to see in every direction. The perfect moment to take pictures of the city!

After the tower we had lunch and went on separate tours we chose. I chose the Aboriginal Heritage walk as I was interested in how the first culture that arrived in Australia learned to survive and how they coexisted with their environment. It was pretty fascinating, but I felt that it was kind of rushed since we had to go through a lot in a small amount of time. I would still love to get to know more about this in depth. Maybe in the form of a survival course when I have time.

After this, we had a stop at Victoria market to get some supplies for the party that night since it was in an “Australia” theme. I bought a shirt with aboriginal art on it, but some people went all out with flags, hats and whatnot. The market is a great place to buy cheap stuff and it’s great that I only live a stone’s throw away from it.

Pre-drinks were great, the party was sweet, and I still woke up in time for breakfast, check out and one last tune on the piano. Overall a great week and thrilled about everything I experienced! It really super-kicked the start to my exchange in Australia and excited to see familiar faces in and outside of campus. Now to prepare for when the real studying begins…

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2 Responses to Australia: The Melbourne Welcome Program

  1. Jouke says:

    Good to hear you are enjoying yourself. It all sounds fascinating.

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