At the time of writing, I have now been in Melbourne for three weeks. However, I have to say, it feels like a lot less than that.
I came over two weeks before the semester started to have a chance to explore the city and meet the people in my dorm before I got stuck into studying-for-hours-and-not-looking-up-from-the-screen. Unfortunately, COVID stayed true to its history of derailing plans, and the whole state of Victoria went into lockdown only a few days after I arrived. By that time, I have only managed to move into my dorm, unpack and visit a few places around the CBD area where my dorm is, assuming I would have plenty of time for exploration before the semester begins.
Lockdown is seldom fun, and it is even less so in a new city, in a tiny studio apartment and no friends… Right? Well, yes. But it turned out the situation had a few positives too. The usually always busy streets of CBD emptied, and I got to enjoy undisturbed views of the city on my daily walk. In my two hours of outdoor exercise a day, I have managed to explore the allowed 5km radius from my dorm in every direction. I spent more time walking along the Yarra river than I would care to count, and visited every park in my vicinity (my favourite being Fitzroy Gardens). By the end of lockdown, I have gotten to know the city well enough to finally be able to confidently navigate the streets without Google Maps. So to my surprise, the lockdown passed quickly and semi-productively (which, unfortunately, I can’t say about my time in lockdowns last year in NZ).
And now that the city is open, I can finally visit the museums and art galleries that I have been longing to see and stop by the countless cafes and coffee shops that Melbourne is famous for. My favourite cafe so far is Flovie – a florist/cafe serving very instagrammable breakfasts and brunches (which happen to be delicious, too). The only thing is, I now have to balance my tourism with university.
Speaking of university, the semester started last week! I quickly realised two of my courses were a little different to what I was expecting. So, I spent most of the week communicating with the exchange office and course coordinators to get myself into the correct courses. Luckily, the exchange advisor, Borbara, is both incredibly helpful and very efficient, so by the time Friday came around, I got enrolled in all my courses and was ready to do a lot of catch up over the weekend.
To my surprise, the courses are a lot more challenging than I expected. One subject, object-oriented programming, started with us getting Java revision exercises. I thought I’d find these a breeze given that I already know Java pretty well, but to my surprise, they were difficult – a lot harder than the stuff I did last semester. I spent the majority of the week working on these, which was surprisingly fun – there’s no better feeling than when your program suddenly starts working after you’ve been debugging it for hours and hours.
Another upside of study here is that Melbourne University uses the same Canvas LMS system as UoA for course content, quizzes and assignments. This means I don’t have to spend time familiarizing myself with a different system, as the interface is familiar and I already know the logistics of taking a quiz or uploading an assignment. Given how much I have quickly needed to learn since coming here, I’m welcoming anything familiar with open arms.
All in all, my first few weeks in Melbourne have been a whirlwind. There were some highs and some lows, and some surprises along the way too. However, I cannot be more excited for the rest of the semester – hopefully, classes will go back off-line, and I’ll get to meet some of my classmates in person. But until then, I am enjoying getting to know people in my dorm, visiting the most touristy cafes in Melbourne, and spending hours looking for a bug in my code.
Until next time,