Jae Min: “You are now at Stop 1, Melbourne University. The doors will open on the right side of the tram”

The three troublemakers, and the compulsory box of monopoly deal

Since you guys probably didn’t get to see much of Melbourne University this year (neither did we 👀), Tim, Sasa and I (the three troublemakers 😪) had a photoshoot on campus for the funsies. Here’s how we did 😉

Some people just love the camera 🤦🏻‍♂️
Hide and go seek (…?)
Accidentally recreated a cliché K-drama scene (no, not the Squid Game kind 🦑🎮)

The campus is so incredibly beautiful! I kept thinking to myself what it would’ve been like if lectures were actually on campus this year. It would’ve been so amazing! There are so many buildings across the main campus, and it stretches for ages – just when you think you’re out of it there’s another couple blocks! 🚗 🚗 🚗 🚗 💨

I like how this picture turned out hehe
My attempt at nature photography
What I would have seen every day, if lectures were in-person.

Tim and I decided to make the big jump from tram track to bike lanes, and went on a couple of bike rides to spice up our Melbourne experience. We went on the Capital City Trail and the Brighton Beach Track, exploring places like Brighton Beach, St. Kilda, the Yarra River, and a great handful of places in the Melbourne metropolitan area. I must say, the Capital City Trail was such an eye opener! Who knew there were so many hidden beauties behind the wall of skyscrapers; Cycling by natural rivers, beautiful bridges, and seeing Costco for the first time are things I’ll remember for a long, long time.

Albert Park! But not the one in Auckland ;-P
$17 for 24 hours of biking – not bad!
Capital City trail – how fun!

I have to say, just when I thought there wasn’t anything else to explore in Melbourne, I was hit with a gust of new surprises! The bikes got us to places that were previously unreachable, and we managed to see another dimension to Melbourne that we couldn’t see before! Hidden parks, alleyways, attractions, and many more places that can’t be found on any ‘Top 25 must-visit places in Melbourne!’ websites – I felt like a real local 😎

Sasa really likes Pho
Mid bike-ride selfies!
Mask and you shall receive

Anything (even lockdown) is better with friends! Having friends to catch up with every now and then has made the lockdowns a lot more bearable (and dare I say, enjoyable?). We went around visiting all of the niche and local restaurants around Central Melbourne, and went and walked through a maze of alleyways and buildings. What I found fascinating is that to this day there hasn’t been a single alleyway without an interesting cafe, restaurant, or a beautiful artistic display/instalment!

Mandatory Brighton Beach Photo

First time seeing a ferris wheel!
Every alleyway in Melbourne has something special 😉 Found a nice bingsoo place in this one!

To conclude…

The past few months here has been awesome, but it also felt like a demo version of the true Melbourne experience. Too often I found myself thinking ‘what if?’, and imagining how much better this experience would have been without the pandemic-that-shall-not-be-named. But despite this, I did enjoy this exchange! There aren’t many people who can say that they’ve been on an exchange during a pandemic, and Melbourne has had a great bunch of activities that could still be permitted with social distancing. Do I recommend people to go on an exchange to Melbourne? Absolutely! Melbourne boasts being one of the southern hemisphere’s most culturally diverse cities, and you can feel that everywhere you go. It feels like a world-best coffee, pizza or croissant (or anything really) is always just an alleyway away.

Thank you all for reading my blogs!
Hopefully your exchange experiences are pandemic-free.

Kia kaha,
Jae Min 🙂

Tim : My Faves

Yet another month of lockdown, Youtube, and face masks. Even though we haven’t seen Melbourne in its full glory, it’s definitely a great place to be in lockdown. Despite all the restrictions, we’ve been trying to make the most of being in this beautiful city. Here are some of my favourite things I’ve done so far.


The discovery of Lime eBikes has changed the game for us. A day pass is $17 which is a great deal if you want to see the city. However, maybe read up on how the pass works because I got charged $40 for doing it wrong. These electric bikes make riding effortless. Not to mention, it’s fun to go fast effortlessly. We rode along the capital city trail, to Albert Park, St Kilda beach, and Brighton beach. I highly recommend the capital city trail as you get to experience the scenic views of the city as well as the lush nature along the Yarra River. 


Melbourne has stunning beaches whether you’re looking for a cute stroll across the sand, have a calm picnic, or catch covid from the crowds of unmasked people. All the beaches are connected so I enjoyed biking along the coastline from one beach to the next.


Most of the food places have been underwhelming. I don’t know if it’s because we picked bad places or the takeaway containers make the food taste much worse. However, I have really enjoyed a couple of dessert places. My favourites have been a gelato place called Pidapipo and the Instagram worthy desserts served at Scoopy. 

Melbourne is such a vibrant place and I would love to come back very soon. Hopefully, the restrictions ease up a bit so I can see more of what the city has to offer and maybe even a bit more of Australia 👀👀. 


Sasa: My favourite things in Melbourne

I thought it would be fitting to dedicate my 3rd and last blog to all my favourite things to do in Melbourne, lockdown edition. I feel quite at home here by now and I have a lot of love for this beautiful city 🙂

-The following is in no particular order-


Anyone who knows me knows how excited I get about food. Melbourne truly is multicultural and any kind of food you want that exists in the world will probably also be found in Melbourne.

Sadly, I haven’t eaten out as much as I wanted to because of lockdown (takeaways don’t hit the same) but regardless, here we go

  1. Getting the famous hot jam donuts and some coffee from Queen Victoria Market and having a picnic at Flagstaff Gardens. You get to watch people making the donuts from scratch in the food truck and it is like no other donut I have known. I have literally gone to bed thinking about these donuts and been so excited to wake up so I can get more donuts that I can’t go to sleep. Plus they’re only $1.50 a donut
  1. Queen Vic market itself is worth a mention for the amazing produce it sells – if you go ~an hour before closing you can get some really cheap deals (once got a whole tray of strawberries there for $2)
  2. Lune – Sells amazing croissants and other pastries. Worth the hype and the cost I reckon, but definitely wouldn’t go regularly.
  3. Gelateria Primavera – Shout out to Prina for taking me here <3, their gelato isn’t heavy and rich like most gelatos, more balanced and light and ideal to eat on a sunny day in Carlton Gardens
  4. Max Brenner hot chocolate – don’t make my mistake and get the milk chocolate instead of the dark chocolate and then proceed to keep hounding your friend for one more sip of their dark chocolate drink (thank you Troy)
  5. Big Bang Yoghurt – this place sells the best yoghurt smoothie drinks I have ever had in my life. They also make yoghurt slices from this metal plate (like that rolled ice cream place on K rd)

Damn I really do have a sweet tooth


  1. Going for a run around the Carlton Gardens or Fitzroy gardens with Troy. The running part is straight up unenjoyable but you do feel pretty good and accomplished after and I might as well get fitter in lockdown cos there isn’t that much else to do. Plus these gardens are so beautiful on a nice day and also very ideal for picnics.
  2. Renting out an electric bike (lime) for $17 for 24 hours and taking cruisy low effort bike rides around Melbourne – a group of us went to Albert Park and then to St Kilda’s and biked along the path to Brighton Beach. It was so fun, I felt like we were part of a biker squad
Somewhere along the Yarra river
  1. Port Melbourne, St Kilda’s and Brighton Beach as per the above. I swear St Kilda’s has this ethereal magical feeling to it and the pier is so nice, and Brighton Beach has those cute bath boxes that we had a photoshoot in front of.
Port Melbourne on a sunny day
St Kilda’s on a less sunny day
  1. Studying at State Victoria Library – this place has Hogwarts vibes, please up your game @Auckland Library and UOA General Library

Lastly, this doesn’t exactly qualify as a thing to do but it’s worth a mention because it’s so damn good – the public transport. The Melbourne’s tram system is soooo nice and convenient and essentially free if you live in the city. It’s so much easier to figure out since it basically just runs in straight lines and the free tram zone eliminates having to lug all your groceries home (likely up a hill when you live in Auckland) to save money on bus fares.


Hello Everyone!

This is my final blog post for this exchange! Unfortunately, this entire exchange has been online, and I won’t get to share my post-lockdown life on here. But you can follow me on Instagram @gywchen for future updates! I will share some thoughts I’ve had about this exchange and life and some advice to future exchange students.

Robert Frost said

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.

Ever since starting university, I always wanted to go on exchange. I had planned meticulously two years in advance what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. But those plans were all cancelled when COVID hit the beginning of last year. When I got notice from the university this year that a possible exchange for Australia was on the cards, I got a little excited as going somewhere is better than not going anywhere at all.

However, as soon as I arrived in Australia, lockdown was imposed for both Sydney and Melbourne. Life always throws surprises at us, and the most important skills one can have during this unprecedented time are adaptation and resilience. We cannot change things external to us, but we can make the most of what we have. Although I am unlucky, I am still grateful that I’m here and able to experience everything that I have experienced and going to experience. Life is short and unpredictable. COVID has taken the lives of some but changed the direction of many.

My only advice to future exchange students going to Australia or anywhere in the world is to be grateful that you get to go on exchange and make the most of what you can. Do everything you can because lockdown could be just around the corner. Although it seems the world is finally transitioning out of lockdowns, you never know what the future holds. Just like COVID in 2020 and Delta in 2021 was unexpected, we don’t know what 2022 holds.

So go out, explore, be silly and take the road less travelled!

off to explore!
had a lot of pistachio gelato in Melbourne
more pistachio gelato…
sunsets and palm trees
croffles at Bakemono
on one of my regular walks at Southbank. Found a nice spot and just started to read.

David: Final Reflections


The video below is a video about myself reflecting back on my exchange experience and a little tour around the University of Melbourne.

Also! Some advice for future exchange students considering coming to Australia and looking study at the University of Melbourne.


If you happen to live in the CBD area where University of Melbourne is located, I suggest that you use the free trams that goes around the CBD. It will save you a lot of money!

Also, unlike New Zealand, I think food delivery culture is amazing in Melbourne. You could order, pretty much any food around your area through Uber eats, Menulog, Deliveroo, Doordash, and more. So when you are busy and don’t have time to cook food, or just a little lazy to go out, getting foods delivered to your home would be a smart way to save time and energy!

Academic Life

In terms of academic life at the University of Melbourne. They use the same learning system, Canvas (pretty sure most of the Universities around the world use Canvas!), so everything should be familiar.

In terms of Workload, the length of the lectures are also the same as UoA. For a 3rd year course (they call it subjects here) it is a standard 2 hour lectures and 1 hour tutorials per week. The assignments are pretty much the same too. I am majoring in Criminology and Sociology, and it is the usual essays that you have to write. But the main difference that I found was that at the University of Melbourne, the amount of weekly readings you have to do is a bit more than UoA and most of the courses also have a hurdle requirement, which means that you have to attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials to pass the papers. This forces you to really read your readings to be engaged in tutorials.

The lecture delivery format is also the same (this is during lockdown), the lectures are delivered live through Zoom and are also recorded. But for one of my papers, they have seminars instead of lectures, where there are a lot more discussions and interactions with other students and the lecturer.

This is all from me! I hope my videos and posts have helped you to decide whether you would want to come to Australia and study at the University of Melbourne.

Thank you for reading my posts!


Jae Min: A New Perspective

An exchange is what people describe as the best way to broaden their horizons and learn more about themselves. I definitely agree with this sentiment. Melbourne is an incredible place with a very well developed city and transport infrastructure, artsy, cultural, and has a little bit of everything – really! But there was something that I found in Melbourne that couldn’t be found in one of their many beautiful alleyways, cafés, or beaches: a deeper appreciation of the country that I call home.

Yes, whilst Aotearoa may not be the most developed country infrastructure-wise, but it did have many things that I had taken for granted: A beautiful natural walk just a few minutes away, fish & chips (?? thought I could find these here), but most importantly, my family, friends, girlfriend, and my cat (of course, amongst many other things). I had even begun missing the bustling sounds and views of Queen Street, and the views from my bus ride into uni (even though it is nowhere near as fast or punctual as the trams and trains of Melbourne).

Cooked up something for me and my flatmate (I swear it tastes better than it looks)
Lune Croissants (nuff said)
Got my first jab yoooo

Due to the lockdown, I’ve found myself doing things a lot differently as before. Gone were my (relatively consistent) 12 O’clock bedtimes and 7am wake-ups, and my (relatively consistent) exercise routine. However, I did say hello to hours of YouTube and Netflix (I take that as a plus :P). I found myself exploring and learning more in areas that I had always wanted to learn about but didn’t have the time to, such as Machine Learning, Music, and YouTube content creation, and cooking!!

Of course, with the lockdown restrictions it’s been hard to explore all the places in our bubbles, but every weekend we do find time to explore a bit of the city of Melbourne, here are some of the places!

Luna Park!!
St. Kilda pier, pretty cute!
Some views from my daily walk around the neighbourhood!

Although (imo) Auckland beats Melbourne in terms of natural parks and reserves, I must say the beaches in Melbourne are pretty incredible. The photos won’t do them justice 😉

St. Kilda Beach was cute

Port Melbourne was by far the best beach I’ve ever been to!

Couldn’t manage to do as much as I had hoped this lockdown, but this experience has definitely proven that there are always possibilities to grow and explore things, even if they are only a 5km radius away from your home.

Until next time!
Jae Min 😉

Tim : Lockdown, Lockdown and more Lockdown


The last month has been anti-climatic, to say the least. Before the exchange, I had grand expectations of travelling to a different city every week, tramping the great world-renowned parks, and even experiencing the bustling food and city life. But now I leave my room twice a day for a drink and experience the great food wonders in a takeaway container. Even though things haven’t gone the way I’d imagined, I still don’t regret this experience. During this last month, we have visited the amazing Port Melbourne and St Kilda beaches as well as experiencing some great food, like the infamous Lune croissants. It could be a lot worse, we could be in level 4 lockdown.

I never realised that keeping myself healthy and alive would be so hard. There are many things that I took for granted. I now have a newfound appreciation for the things my mum does that has kept me alive all these years. Here are some things that may help you when going on an exchange or just when living by yourself, so you don’t have to learn it the hard way like I did. 

Preparation : Try to do as much research before arriving. Doing admin at the beginning of the exchange is a pain when you want to maximise your time exploring and doing Uni work. Prior research about things like phone plans and banking would be especially helpful and make your first couple of days go smoother. For example, it was a struggle going places without google maps. I don’t know how people did anything before phone data. On the first few days, we got stuck in a random suburb while shopping. Without free wifi or data, we were lost and had to ask strangers about how to get home. As a shy introvert, this was my worst nightmare and I considered just living homeless there. 

The view from my window

Clubs : Joining clubs are a great way to meet new people. I joined the University’s Ultimate Frisbee Club and was going to join the mountaineering club before lockdown started. Everyone was friendly and it was great meeting different people, even if I only saw them once.  

Food : I didn’t realise food goes off so fast. At home, my mum has mastered the timing of best before and expiry dates. Now I’m eating expired mushrooms and bread, hoping not to die of food poisoning each night. Just keep an eye on expiry dates and learn to use the freezer. 

Priorities : Only being here for a couple of months, you won’t be able to accomplish everything – whether it’s travelling around to every city, getting A+ in every assignment and tests, or meeting many lifelong friends. So you need to prioritise a couple aspects that you want to achieve. All in all, make the most of your time here. Choose how you’re spending your time wisely because it will fly.


Port Melbourne beach

Sasa : It wasn’t meant to be an online exchange

I think my last blog post was definitely too optimistic, no we did not get to go back to university but on the plus side, I still can’t say going on exchange was a bad idea since Auckland is also in lockdown and the University of Auckland is going to be online for the rest of the semester anyway. Is it awful to take comfort in that? I’d argue it’s only human 😉

It’s almost a heart ❤ 😉 Don’t worry I only took my mask off for the photo

However regardless of only having had an online relationship with the University, I have still learnt a lot so let’s dedicate this blog post to the academic side of things while I work behind the scenes to make my life more exciting, just for my 3 readers xo

The courses I’m taking this semester consists of a tissue engineering & stem cells paper, numerical algorithms, a biosystems project paper and a pysch/neuroscience paper. Some of the content is really interesting and the tissue engineering paper I was especially excited to take as it was so relevant to my degree and what I potentially want to do. The content is varied and we have quite a few guest lecturers coming in to talk about their respective fields (ie orthodontics, orthopaedics) where they are doing really amazing things – kind of ground-breaking actually, which is a privilege to learn about. It’s also a post-graduate paper but you are allowed to do one as part of your exchange program so I highly recommend taking it for anyone coming to University of Melbourne interested in medical engineering – it’s one of the few papers I’ve taken that actually feels really relevant to the field and one that you wouldn’t have the opportunity of taking back in Auckland. It’s still been great to learn a lot of interesting things without that GPA pressure which is a huge weight off. I’m still about 2 weeks behind though- old habits die hard.

Note that I’m speaking from my own experience but one of the first things I noticed when I was putting together my timetable is that there are far less lectures per paper (which is referred to as a ‘subject’ here) mostly only 1 a week!! However, there’s a catch in that each lecture is two hours long…

Still, the workload is definitely a lot less than my previous papers in BME ( nod to ENGSCI 314 which had 4 lectures a week). There are also less assessment/deliverables, only 3-4, including the exam for all of my papers except one. I’m infinitely grateful I got to escape the hell that is Part III second semester that is BME especially as I struggle massively with engaging in online learning when there are no physical places to go to.

The student association here is also bigger and better and there is a lot of support for students – I think we’re due to get a care package soon which is really cute and they give out free meals and fruit and vege boxes for students along with online events that are actually kinda fun- like virtual escape rooms

Also lockdown here is pretty much level 3 so you still get to experience Melbourne through your stomach – and the food here is to die for

Ate this all by myself and felt really bad but oh god it was so good

I actually love Melbourne. It’s such a great city and I’m definitely open to coming back and living here and either working or doing post-grad study here.

Until next time 🙂



I’ma paint it, paint it, paint it, how I want…..2014 Forest Hills Drive on repeat during this lockdown. What can you do during a strict Melbourne lockdown? Well, not much, feeling déjà vu daily.

One of my favourite things to do when I’m alone is to ride around the city on my bicycle. Exploring new sights while covering a lot of ground is one of the many reasons why I love biking through a new city.

As soon as lockdown was announced, I immediately shared my biking thoughts with Alan. He shared the same sentiment as me, so we both hit up Facebook Marketplace and got whatever available bike. Even if we weren’t living in a COVID environment, I would be biking through the graffitied streets of Fitzroy or down the Yarra River. With everything locked up, this is now all I can do.


And wherever we go
And whatever we do
And whatever we see
And whoever we be
It don’t matter, it don’t matter
I don’t mind cause you don’t matter
I don’t mind cause I don’t matter,
You’ll see in the end
Alan & I on one of our many bike rides
ridin’ my bike down the Yarra listenin’ to Cole


Other than biking, I also love to go on walks. I try and leave the hall at least once a day to get some fresh air and to get the limbs moving. I would find a place to go to everyday, and along the journey, I would discover and see new sights and might even encounter something unexpected! It’s also a great way of getting more familiar with the city!

spontaneous ice cream runs
I want my dreams to rescue me
On the road to riches
woke up early to go to Lune to try out their Almond Croissant which according to the New York Times was the best croissant in the world..


II went on exchange to study less, not more. But with the whole semester under lockdown, I’m studying a lot more than expected. With the entire semester online, it is difficult to make friends. So desperate times calls for desperate measures – Alan told me he selected a few people from his zoom classes and hit them up on FB. I went and did the same but also directly hit some people up on zoom during our lectures. Surprisingly, most people responded, and some even helped out!

Baillieu Library – the only library open during lockdown
I like to write alone, be in my zone

So biking, walking and studying sums up what Alan and I have been up to during the past month or so!

This might be the routine for a while, but hopefully not!

David: Exchange Student’s Life in Lockdown

Hi everyone its David here again!

Just an update on my exchange journey, Melbourne is still in lockdown, and with the re-introduction of curfews in Melbourne, I had to spend most of my time at home and alone for the past few weeks. While it is sad and disappointing, at the same time I am really looking forward to when the lockdown eases and eventually lifts. The lockdown restrictions are due to ease when the state hits a 70% first dose vaccination rate which is expected on the 23rd of September. I am really anticipating for this date and have been planning on all the things that I will do when the lockdown eases. Fingers crossed!

Below is a video that I created which captures a special day that I celebrated during my student exchange in Melbourne. Although I spent my birthday alone during lockdown, thanks to technology, I was able to have a good time with facetiming and spending time with my family 😊

While there are not many exciting things to do during lockdown (except exercising, going for walks and buying groceries), the video captures footages of my walk along the Yarra river which runs through Melbourne.

Hope you enjoy watching the video!