It’s been a year since I arrived here, fresh off the plane with luggage missing and no sense of direction that led to a three hour jaunt around a city which I had never been to before. Melbourne is home now though. Disorientated and confused is how you feel when you get here, but give it 3-4 weeks and you’ll be right at home and in no time at all, you’ll know the best places to go
Ask me where chinatown is and I’ll tell you to go to the corner of Swanston and Little Bourke; better yet, I’ll tell you the best restaurant there. Want a good Italian? The Southgate centre is awesome. Looking to watch any sports match you can imagine? Turf Bar on Queen Street. Cheap beer? European Bier cafe on Mondays. Best asian food you’ll ever have? Then Chin Chin on little Flinders will do the trick. Having worked part time as a managing supervisor at a fine dining Italian restaurant, I’ve learned to appreciate why I came out an a study abroad exchange in the first place: I’ve met loads of new people and learnt so much from them. I’ve traveled to some of the most beautiful places on earth and most ‘importantly’ I’ve learnt to apply my degree in Business and Management to real life situations.
But let’s talk about Melbourne, the absurd amounts of homeless people that stalk the streets begging for money, a weather forecast that cycles through four seasons in a single day and abysmal public transport make you wonder why it’s the World’s ‘most liveable’ city.
However, come here in January when the weather is stable, the sun is shining and everyone is out and about, and you might begin to see why. Melbourne is not a perfect city, don’t make the mistake of thinking that, but it comes close. Melbourne takes the best of different cultures and blends them into one hotpot of a city.
Want to indulge in a little old-school capitalism, Crown Casino should suit you nicely. Would you rather enjoy some street food and urban culture? Then Fitzroy and Brunswick are your places. Want to spend some time with Italians? Then Carlton is the place to be. Fancy yourself a cultured individual? Then SouthBank is just right for you. Looking to do some protesting? Then just outside the Victorian State Library every other day will be just right. Looking for a skyscraper to check out some gorgeous sunsets? We have the tallest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere! Melbourne is the future of cities – combining multiculturalism in ways you’ve never seen before and ensuring growing variety and diversity of the activities offered in order to accommodate an ever various and diverse people.
I don’t love all of Melbourne. But that’s not the point, you don’t have to. There is something for everyone here and it’s all about encouraging exploration and finding what you love and doing it, whilst of course maintaining that elusive ‘Work – Study – Life’ balance.
It’s a cliche to say I’ve enjoyed my year here and will never forget it. Melbourne has taught me a lot, when I return home in less than 24 hours, I’ll look at my home with new eyes, I’m going to get out and explore London more, find what I love and go and do it.
I haven’t always loved my time here, the studying has been tough and balancing a job has been painful at times. I wish I could’ve seen more. But there’s always next time. The whole point of these posts is to encourage young students to get out on study exchange years.
Here’s what I’ll leave you with: If you are looking for a gap year to chill, relax, party and travel then I probably wouldn’t advise doing this…. that’s what a holiday is for. If however, you want to combine aspects of the former with solid work experience, learn things at university level that you otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to study and obtain a fresh perspective on life; then this could be just right for you. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it in the grand scheme of things.
Remember, it’s never the stuff you do that you regret the most, it’s the stuff you don’t do.