Australia 3: Attempting Normal Life

Recap: I’m studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia this semester and doing my best (kind of) to keep everyone up to date. Theoretically I’m doing a chain email, but I am so far behind, I apologize. I’ve been in the country for seven weeks now and starting my fifth week of classes. There’s only something like four months and eight days until I come home. So much has happened since my last article, but I’ll do my best!

I won’t bore you with the gradual progression of my classes. In summary: Newton spent too much time creating various laws and needed to live a little, I still don’t know anything about computer ports and Australian history is very... brief. In between my thrilling lectures and tutorials, I’ve been able to go on some amazing excursions to the super touristy bits of Australia. I had the opportunity to be a member of a live studio audience for an Australian news channel, I’ve been to more museums and galleries than I can count and I spent approximately nineteen hours exploring the Great Ocean Road. This road was built literally through the coastline of southern Melbourne by veterans who later lived nearby. I woke up at 6 am and got on a bus with my group, and we headed out to the Twelve Apostles. Starting at the far end of the road, we would drive a bit, make a stop to explore, and drive a bit more to our next destination, all with the ocean to the right. I believe we eventually stopped at six or seven locations. I saw some beautiful beaches, some wild koalas, tried ~the best~ ice cream in Australia, hiked through a rainforest and took some outrageously long videos of the views along the way. I came back sunburnt and exhausted but still managed to celebrate a friend’s birthday in the city. Yes, I was the girl at the club with a backpack and sunscreen residue. But you just have to embrace it.

Yes, I DID make it to my 21st birthday! Bridget and I FaceTimed each other as planned (her birthday is on the 23rd, and mine is on the 24th, so, thanks to the time zones, our birthdays were at the same moment in time). Unfortunately, we never quite managed to take a celebratory shot together. However, thanks to some of my wonderful friends here in Melbourne, I did manage to have a pineapple tequila shot. If you don’t know the story behind that, my dad will be too happy to tell you all about it.

On the 29th of March, I finally started what I came here to do. I began my internship at the University of Melbourne in their vascular bionics lab. That’s a picture of my desk. MY desk. I have my own desk. The building is amazing. The people are amazing. The work is amazing. I’m helping out on a couple of projects, but, overall, the group is trying to develop a functional interface between the brain and a prosthetic device that doesn’t require open brain surgery. If you want to read into it a bit more, here is a link. I’ll be in the office three times each week, and I wish it could be more. However, right after my first day, I started my Easter vacation, so I’ve only been in the office once. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

Right at the beginning of my Easter vacation, my grandparents came to visit me in Melbourne as one stint of their six-week adventure through Australia and New Zealand. Over three days I showed them around Melbourne as best I could. We saw some penguins at St. Kilda Beach, went to the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Central and my campus at La Trobe University. I may have scarred them with the excessive exposure to the public transportation system, and my grandmother will tell you how I made everyone walk over 15,000 steps each day, but it was absolutely wonderful to have that taste of home after being alone across the world for what has felt like months. To Mana and Granddad: thank you for everything, and I’ll see you when we’re all back in the same country.

For my Easter vacation, I flew over to Sydney after my grandparents left for New Zealand. I stayed with my friends just outside of Chinatown and split my time between exploring by myself and bothering them, despite the fact that they all had classes. The best comparison I can give is that Sydney felt like an L.A. while Melbourne feels like a San Francisco. I explored all the touristy sites (peep the Opera House) and even made it out to some lesser known places like Parramatta (the second oldest colony in Australia). I made it to Manly Beach and Bondi Beach. I was told that the latter is where Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth like to vacation. Unfortunately, I spotted neither of them. I went to the Botanic Gardens and the oldest observatory in Australia. I had an absolutely wonderful time and wish I could have stayed for longer, but for some reason I don’t think my professors at La Trobe would take too kindly to that.

I miss you all so much, and I swear I’m going to try and be better about my email chain. Your girl is BUSY and is deeply apologetic. Don’t have too much fun without me! Xx