Melbourne

Touring Melbourne

For most people who have never studied abroad, you would assume that being in your 3rd year of studies, would come with high stress levels and a large work load. But in reality (well for me anyway), studying abroad hasn’t been too bad and student life in Melbourne wasn’t too different from my experiences in the UK. Most of my classes were at a 3rd year level, but I felt like I was back in my first year of uni.

For one of my modules I organised and ran a charity event with 5 other students, we decided to create a 90s Hip Hop themed event on campus. We raised awareness and money for the charity ‘HipHop4Hope’ and the event was a great success. We even had a surprise visit from ‘Bkode’ a popular dance crew in Australia.

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I finally managed to do more tourist things in Melbourne when Shanalee’s friend came to visit for a week. We went to the Eureka Skydeck which is the tallest viewpoint in the city, It was a spectacular view. We also went to the Crown Casino. I’ve only been to one other casino a few years back so I didn’t know what to expect. In the end I lost some money but then made it back and more! It was a fun experience.

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I’m not one for museums and such, but we thought the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium would be something different and interesting. I had a bad experience at London Zoo’s aquarium when I was younger so I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I was pleasantly surprised and actually learnt a lot and saw some beautiful sea creatures.

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Melbourne is known for some of their famous eats and restaurants, in my opinion there isn’t as much cuisine variety as the UK. There is a lot of Oriental and Asian restaurants everywhere so you’re spoilt for choice. I wouldn’t recommend the Australian Nando’s if you have eaten the UK version, its just not the same and quite disappointing.

That week we ate at a really good Chinese restaurant, pancake parlour and tried a ‘typical’ Melbournian food known as chicken parma, which was huge but also delicious!.

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Who would have ever known a pink lake existed!

At Westgate park there is! After researching what to do in Melbourne, we came across the pink lake and decided to take the short trip to see it for ourselves. I was surprised of how unknown it is, even from the people who have lived in Melbourne for years. A pink lake is a real natural phenomenon and the pictures don’t lie! The lake is only pink during the summer/early autumn months and it returns to its normal blue in winter. We arrived at the lake a little bit late in the evening so it wasn’t as bright, but it was still bright enough and was such an amazing sight.
Its definitely a must see if you’re in Melbourne!

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We were also part of a live taping of Millionaire Hot seat at the docklands studios which was fun but a lot of work! (We weren’t allowed to take pictures). You would never know how exhausting being an audience member can be until you are one yourself. There was a chance to win some cash during the taping just for being in the audience, unfortunately we didn’t win. But me and Shanalee got pulled up on stage due to our accents to play a game during the break which was hilarious, and on the last taping we got free ice skating tickets.

There is definitely an array of things to do in Melbourne and so much more that we didn’t get to explore. I’m glad that we got to see more of the city and try new things. Especially since we were on the other side of the world, I wanted to make the most of it before heading home.

Koalas, Kangaroos & Penguins | Phillip Island

You can’t visit Australia without seeing a koala or kangaroo, whether it’s in the bush, or the zoo!

One of the highlights of my semester abroad in Melbourne was the day I spent at Phillip Island. Our first stop was to the Maru Koala & Animal Park. I was really excited (and a little nervous) to be up close and personal with the Koalas and Kangaroos! I’ve heard some crazy stories where Kangaroos can chase and beat people up.

There was also a number of other animals at the park from Dingos to Peacocks, Emus to Donkeys and more. Unfortunately most the Koalas were sleeping when we arrived, but just seeing them sleeping in the trees was so cute! We also had a chance to feed some baby Kangaroos; it was a great experience, and Kangaroos aren’t as scary as I thought.

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The next stop was to “the nobbies” which is a place at the edge of the island where you get spectacular ocean views and get to see seals close up. Because of the time we went, unfortunately we didn’t get to see any seals, but it was still incredible being up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was super windy so I would suggest bringing warm clothing if you’re not visiting during the Australian summer months.

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Lastly we arrived at the Penguin Parade. The island is famous for their nightly Penguin Parade where the world’s smallest penguins waddle in from their day hunting for fish in the ocean and return to their homes in the hills on the beach. We had a quick dinner at the cafe before heading to the beach, they give you such big portions so be prepared to take the food away or maybe share a meal if you are with other people. They don’t allow any photos or videos to be taken while at the Penguin Parade, so I have nothing to show you (apart from online image searches) but I highly, highly recommend it.maru4

Overall it was an amazing day and I only paid about $40 since it was set up by the Community Spirit Programme at the accommodation I live in. It normally costs around $104 for a day trip, but it is definitely a worth while trip to make for anyone wanting to get out of Melbourne for the day.

Life’s a beach

IMG_2300Often there are times when we forget to appreciate the simple things.

We can get so caught up in this crazy biosphere we call life, that we forget to stop, unwind and see the beauty of the world in front of us.

After 3 months of living in Melbourne, I finally made it to St Kilda Beach. It took so long due to procrastination, University and all that stressful house hunting malarkey. Even though it took me a while to get to the beach I’m so glad I did when I did. It wasn’t the hottest of days, but it was hot enough for me to catch a tan! (yes, brown people tan too). It was just what I needed – I felt refreshed, at peace and blessed.

St Kilda beach is known for being one of Melbourne’s favourite beaches. I was surprised to see that hardly anyone was around, but I preferred it like that anyway. We wanted to avoid the crowds that the weekend brings so we went on a Wednesday afternoon (probably the reason for the quiet beach). Also from viewing the weather forecast, it looked like Melbourne wasn’t  going to have many sunny days after that, so we wanted to make the most out of the heat while it lasted. We wanted to stay on the beach to capture the sunset, but unfortunately it got quite cold so we decided to leave, but here are a few of the pictures I took that day…

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Now that it’s Autumn/Winter in Melbourne, there are unfortunately no more ‘beach days’ for me. 😦


“Life’s a beach… enjoy the waves”.

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House Hunting: The struggle

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Nothing ever really goes to plan does it?

Many people as well as myself have experienced the woes of a faltering plan. It might sound dramatic but the events that occurred were just that. Only a few people know of the real struggle that went into finding a place to live in Melbourne. I guess you could say we were unprepared and naive to think we could find accommodation so quickly, we assumed, since exactly that happened when we moved to Madrid last year. We spoke no Spanish, yet still found a beautiful apartment within 3 days. This was certainly not the case for Melbourne.

I was so excited to start my 5 month journey in Melbourne. I never thought I would have the chance to go to Australia, let alone to live and study there. Don’t get me wrong the first few days were amazing! The weather was beautiful, I loved being in a new environment, and I was right in the heart of the city. Not long after, we realised the differences in the house hunting process. From my experiences in the UK and Madrid, I am used to estate agents showing you around different places that you are interested in, as well as ones they think suit your criteria. But in Melbourne (CBD), they work on a first come first serve basis for housing applications, so even if you like a place and apply, you need to be quick because it could be taken just like that. They also have a couple of set days in the week where anyone can turn up for an inspection. With the housing market being so competitive, it meant that many inspections would have so many people turning up and would often clash with other companies, which meant you would miss out on a potential place to live. This happened a few times for us, even when we split up to look for places, the timings would overlap and when we sent in our (many) applications, we were told they had already been leased.

We spent our first month in Melbourne running around the city and its surrounding suburbs in the sweltering heat on a frantic house hunt. We viewed places from having a bedroom in the living room/kitchen with a shower curtain to separate the rooms, to top of the range, classy apartments. We saw everything. It was such a crazy time because it was the start of semester at University, and we were still on the hunt. We tried everything. Literally. The amount of times someone suggested we try ‘Gumtree’ became a joke. Even the University couldn’t suggest anything more than what we had already tried.

I started to lose faith and believed that we weren’t going to find anywhere to live. But little did we know that on the 11th March, everything would change. We got a phone call from an estate agent and they offered us an apartment! A couple of hours later, we got a call from someone saying that they also had an apartment available. I couldn’t believe it. All this time and money spent on house hunting and finally, a break through! After seeking housing advice we made our decision and moved into an apartment the next day.

Overall it took us a month (which felt like forever) to find a suitable place to live. We stayed in several temporary accommodations, which you can imagine the cost! I truly thank God for my amazing parents’ and the few lovely friends that knew the full extent of things. Your support meant a lot during that stressful time. I wasn’t going to post this experience but I feel like many times in life people think that ‘life is over’ when something doesn’t go to plan. But that is life. We can’t predict what may or may not happen and it’s how we deal with these things that show us how strong we really are. I could have easily quit, but I decided to stick it out and eventually things started to fall into place.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and one bad experience shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what you have right in front of you. Life is what you make it. Melbourne is a beautiful city with so much to offer. It was just unfortunate that my experience got off to a bad start. I am going to make the most of the time I have left here. Too much went into this trip just to throw it all away by giving up and staying miserable.

As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…


 Philippians 4:13 ♥

White Night Melbourne

 After a few nights we had to leave the beautiful apartments in the Docklands and stayed in Flemmington, which is about 20 minutes on the tram from Melbourne CBD (Central Business District). We booked the Docklands and Flemmington apartments with an app and website called ‘Airbnb‘, which Shanalee introduced to me. I think it is very useful and definitely a great way to find last minute accommodation at decent prices and you can also make some money if you have your home or rooms available to host people.

If you book with Airbnb, use my code to get money off your booking! https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/msmith2000 PicMonkey Collagewn

On Saturday the 21st February, Melbourne held an annual street festival called ‘White Night’, which is an event that has been running for the past 3 years in the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District, filling up the streets with thousands of people each running year. White Night is a ‘one night only’ event running from 7pm to 7am. This idea derived from the original concept; ‘Nuit Blanche’, created in 2002 originating from Paris, France.

We got to the CBD around 11:30pm as we were told it would be lively at that time. Since we didn’t have a great start to our Australian adventures we thought that this would take our mind off the stress of house hunting and have some fun. I assumed White Night would be something like Notting hill Carnival in London, but at night. We were quite disappointed. It wasn’t that lively, most people were just eating and sitting around and the “light shows” weren’t that great either. We ended up meeting some people and tagging along with them till we decided to leave. I think my expectations for the event were too high, but it was an experience and we somewhat enjoyed ourselves.wertyuytre

Journey to the land of Oz

February 8th marked the date of my journey down under! As always, I was so last minute. I packed my bags the day I flew out to Melbourne. Me and my friend Shanalee (who I lived with in Madrid) met at Gatwick airport and prepared ourselves for the 2 stop overs, 3 flights, 27 hour journey and 5 months of living in Australia . If you have read my previous posts about me flying to other countries, you would know by now  the bad luck I’ve had… I don’t even know how, but once again we ended up running to catch our flight as the gates were closing, even though we were at the airport 2 hours before the flight! I just don’t get it…*sigh*IMG_1266

The first flight was from Gatwick to Dubai, I tried to catch up on sleep since not having any due to my last minute packing, but I was squashed between 2 large men. I just ended up listening to music and watching 22 jump street. The second flight was from Dubai to Perth, this flight was much better because I had an aisle seat and could stretch my legs throughout the flight. The plane food was gross… As usual. The final flight was from Perth to Melbourne, we arrived around 12am and lugged our massive and heavy suitcases to our hostel on Spencer street.

We stayed in a hostel for the first 3 nights, it was cheap. Lets just say we got what we paid for… Our first day consisted of having a lie in and exploring the city of Melbourne. We went on a wander and stumbled upon Federation Square, State Library, shopping centres and more. The weather was a shock to the system as we’d been in such cold temperatures in the UK and then to the extreme heat of Australia!  djs PicMonkey Collagefghghjjkk

 As we were still house hunting we had to leave the hostel and found a lovely place to stay for a few nights in the Docklands. We were lucky to have stayed there when we did because One Direction and their supporting act McBusted were performing at the Etihad Stadium, right next to the apartments. We stayed on the 21st floor and had an amazing view of the concerts for 2 nights. I’m not a fan, but it was pretty cool watching a concert for free from the comfort of your bedroom. There was also a gym and a rooftop pool with amazing views of the city. cityyyyyy ethihad1D McB

During the week we also had Orientation day for University, explored more of the city whilst house viewing literally everyday. I have also been filming/vlogging (lol) so if I am feeling brave, I might just upload the videos to YouTube… We shall see.