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-

FOOD

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

PLACES /ACTIVITIES

  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
*magic*
  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.

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 🙂

Sasa

Sasa: Expectations vs Reality

Expectations Vs Reality so far

I think I jinxed all of Victoria when I said in my ambassador bio ‘assuming there isn’t another lockdown and the borders close’ …

Because I have been here a little over three weeks and we have had 2 lockdowns and honestly it’s tragic enough to be funny. At least I had mentally prepared myself for Melbourne not being the same as it was nearly 4 years ago when I came.

Nevertheless I was really excited to meet my new flatmates, attend all the re-o week events at my student village and at the university and make friends everywhere in a fresh new place. However as I arrived at 11 pm, the RA showed me to my flat and it was ..completely empty. I was a little disappointed as I’m not usually one to want to live alone but I thought it might even end up being better as long as I made friends in the village to visit and invite over. Two days later we went into lockdown.

Ahhh

The view from my balcony – can’t wait to swim in that pool someday

I’ve never really thought I was that extroverted until I had to do a two week lockdown basically on my own and I learnt that I really like being around people. Honestly though I think I have really made the most of the situation and despite all the covid-19 issues, Melbourne is still an amazing place to be in. The city is so vibrant and interesting with fascinating and historical architecture whereas I’ve always thought Auckland was too grey.

The Yarra River, taken on one of my walks.
Some really nice church

I’ve also really appreciated how the university has welcomed us and hosted a zoom call to go over some things and check in on us. I’m really excited for when we can finally have the welcome day in person and go back to university in person. It’s such a beautiful campus. The exchange club at the university (MUSEX) have also saved my social life and I’ve met some lovely people (in the ~1 week between lockdowns).

One of the residential colleges on campus. It’s like $800/wk but has a real Hogwarts vibe

I feel like a first-year again walking around campus because everything is brand new again and I love that feeling – it stops you getting in a rut and time goes by slower because it’s all new and you’re taking it in. If you get the chance to go on exchange, even if it’s not the best time for it, I still really recommend it, especially if it’s your last semester you can take on exchange like it was for me. You’ll make the best of it, you may only get this opportunity once and unless you believe in reincarnation, you won’t get a second life.

Stay updated to see whether we get to go back to university in person soon (fingers crossed)

Sasa

Me and two of my BME classmates that also went on exchange:)