I haven’t written in a while, I know. I’ve been busy trying to settle in and create a life here in Melb. Last Sunday we went to the St. Kilda festival which is a music and arts festival on the beach here in Melbourne. The festival had about 30,000 people attending with a bunch of different stages for people to perform. We figured out how to use the tram and city transport and got down to the festival at about 2 oclock. They’re were salsa stages with loads of people salsa dancing. Techno stages, jazz stages, funk stages, everything you could ever want. We were about to walk back and a few hours after the festival when we saw this thing called “Silence”… or something along those lines. We waited in line and when we got to the door this lady handed us headphones and said, “There’s three stations with three different colours. Keep your headphones on at all times. Enjoy”. That was it. And we had the BEST time ever. This was a silent rave. There were three Dj’s in this tent, one with a blue headset, one green and one red. Each colour DJ was spinning something different, and everyone in the room with a headset could choose which DJ they wanted to listen to. People were going nuts. We were going nuts. We immediately thought of Kurt and his love for dubstep.. he would’ve loved this place. We hadn’t even had too much to drink and we were breaking a sweat dancing so much. I couldn’t imagine what drunk Tara, or even slightly drunk Tara would’ve done to this place. SO, a lesson for the world. If you ever see a silent rave, or people going nuts with headphones on, TRY IT. You will not be disappointed. It is the most exhilarating experience, and also so funny when you take your headphones off and its silent and people are still going at it. Then we tried French fries, which were twisted on sticks (weird I know) and then went back home. A good day it was.
Monday was all about rest. By rest I mean buying boxes of wine, watching the Manu/Liverpool game and playing a good game of gin rummy. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday week was my orientation at RMIT. It was good, but quite hectic, and mildly boring. I was accidentally assigned postgrad, masters classes rather than undergrad, which was a slight problem, and I had to wake up at 6am to attempt to fix them. I’m still trying to tweak my schedule for school, hoping that I can get a Mon-Wed schedule like at home so I have Thursday-Sunday off. I used to do that so it would make for an easier Jack’s schedule, but now that I am free of the Jackmare it wouldn’t be so bad to just take weekends to myself, or to travel. Kind of like a normal human being instead of Jack-slave.
Anyway, as it stands now I have 4 courses, which I get 5 credits for! I’m not sure why, but because I am “studying abroad”, I get a free school credit. My schedule this right now is
Monday 2:30-5:30: Personal Wealth Management (which counts as my Canadian finance class, which is amazing!)
5:30-6:30: Strategic Management Tutorial
Tuesday 3:30-4:30: Accounting and Cost Benefits Tutorial (which is one hour of my day, so reastically I will never go, sorry mom. So, Tuesday off!)
Wednesday 3:30-5:30: Strategic Management Lecture
6:30-8:30 Accounting and Cost Benefits Lecture
Friday 1:30-5: Introduction to Australian Society (only 5 classes in the semester, because every other week we go on school trips, aka field trips. Our “school trips” involve wine tasting, a weekend retreat in north victora, st. Kilda beach to learn to surf, imagine that! The course is supposedly to show us a good time in Australia. This is the course I am getting two University credits for, so ridiculous. Two credits for drinking wine and surfing, then writing about it. They should tell everyone about this class when applying for an exchange. Enrollment would go up 98%)
So my schedule looks pretty good so far. I’m also considering taking another course so that it makes my last semester in Canada super easy. I need 10 more credits total to graduate, so if I take 5 classes here, it would count as 6 of those credits, which means I will only have to take 4 back in Canada. So, I haven’t decided if I want to have a lighter course load here, because I’m going to be traveling and such.. Or if I want a normal size course load here, where all the classes are pass/fail (no real grades), and I will have an easier semester in Canada. Advice?
Theres not much more about school I can tell you as of yet. Other than the fact the buildings at RMIT look like someplace out of willy wonka and there’s a windsurfing team at my new school. Anyway, I actually start my classes on the 27th of Feb., and am excited to meet some aussie classmates. Speaking of meeting people, my orientation group is about 200 people from 24 different countries. I’ve met people from Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and obviously the states and Canada. We have a pretty big group of Canadians that have stuck together, give or take some people from the UK and such. Everyone is really nice – given that we are being treated like kindergarteners. Most of the people I’ve met that are on exchange live in the on campus residences or surrounding type places, where there are so many 17 year olds that just moved away from home- exactly the reason I choose not to live in a RMIT residence. I feel old. But those of us that can tie our shoes and count to 100 went to Brighton Beach today, which was nice, but nothing like Bondi beach in Sydney. That beach was to die for, and I should’ve taken more advantage of that beautiful place because it doesn’t look like Melbourne has anything comparable to that beach at all. BUT I do still have more discovering to do, so maybe I’ll find something even better.
Since, I’ve brought up discovering, I should tell you a few things I’ve discovered since I’ve been in Melbourne. The Big W is our Walmart. People looovee frozen yogurt around here. They’re Mcdonald’s every five steps, as I think I mentioned previously in one of my blogs. There are so many German travelers, assuming that’s because they don’t pay for school so they are all rich. Canadians here introduce themselves as “Hi. I’m not American”. Also, I see signs all over saying $12 rump steak. I am unsure if that means I’m eating a cows ass, or what but it a $12 and they’re not bad. These aussies look at me funny though when I order it rare, jerks. Everyone here says “how ya going?”. When being asked how are you, when being asked are you okay, even instead of hello or hi, Aussies say “how ya going?”. Other than how they speak, Melbourne people are proud of these things they call “pop-ups”. They are different stands and things at night time that pop up out of nowhere. For example .. you could be strolling nicely along Swanston street at noon and see a blank sidewalk. Later, you could be walking down the same road and see a bar that has magically appeared there, or a shop, or anything else that they can “pop up”. Nothing like in Toronto, where it turns midnight and the prostitutes and crackheads take over.
Melbourne is pretty cool actually! This city prides itself in having mysterious things I think. Kenny and I went out for valentines day and decided to explore the city a bit. We walked down simple alleyways and as the night went on discovered so many tiny lounges and bars and restaurants open in literally alleys. You have to climb sketchy stairs, or sometimes those fire escape stairs to find them, but once you find them they are hidden gems. We wanted ice cream, so we saw a sign with an ice cream cone with sunglasses on it. We walked in, and climbed a flight of stairs. No ice cream store, but a bumpin red room with a huge bar, a lounge and these crazy tables that could close like a closet. So you would sit inside the booth and it closed for privacy or what-not. It was really cool. We were kind of in shock of what we found and walked up the next flight of stairs. This bar was another open concept bar with all wood hightop tables and a live band. Then, we walked up the next flight of stairs to find a small retail store with tons of unique jewelry and little things. One more flight of stairs to go.. all of this where we thought was an ice cream store. So we get to the top and the lady says “I can let you up but you have to be quiet okay”. We said okay.. and went up. On the top of this place was a rooftop cinema, with one large screen and bleacher-type seating for people to watch a movie. The movies were pre picked, but the place was packed. On the other side was an awesome rooftop lounge overlooking the city. We looked at each other and immediately ordered another bottle of fine Australian vino, aka there cheapest bottle which is usually $40 minimum. We picked a spot near the side of the roof and found out that there were SO MANY other roofs that had patios and fully established bars on them in the middle of complexes. Its like people find a flat roof wherever, put some plants on it and call it a bar. Awesome. Immediately I fell in love with Melbourne.
Among my other discoveries, I’ve also discovered that EVERYTHINGS expensive. Everything. A banana, $1.50. A small bottle of water, $3.50. Chocolate bars, $3. A martini, $18. A carton of milk, $7 (if you’re lucky). The boys and I quickly learned we need jobs ASAP. Everyone in our hostel has been saying how difficult it has been to find work, etc. etc, so I began applying online immediately. I ended up getting two callbacks this week, just out of the 10 places I applied – so I guess it isn’t too hard after all! They are both bartending positions, one to a more classy cocktail lounge, and another to a bar that is known for their live music. In Australia you don’t really have interviews. Instead they just put you on for a shift, and if you fit you fit, if you don’t you don’t. So, last night (Friday) I had an audition shift. It was at this bar called transit cocktail lounge. Ended up being fine, but too fancy for my liking. Black pants, black button up shirt, tie if I want – definitely not me. They only had four beers on tap, one being a cider (which I wouldn’t even count as real beer). They don’t serve pitchers of beer and there cheapest drink on the menu is $13, a 6oz glass of house wine. Martinis here started at $18. It was fun making espresso martinis and serving absinthe to people, but too many questions about single malts and blah blah blah blah. No thanks, but it does pay $21 an hour +tips. Impressive. Anyway, I had a good time, met a few new people, made a few bucks, and on to the next one. Id rather serve drunks than snobs anyday. I think this time, instead of applying online I am going to wander around and find bars I would go to – then apply based on that. Or maybe ask transit cocktail lounge if I can work at their pub downstairs, ha!
The last thing that I think is important enough to talk about is the fact myself and Kenny and Chris have joined a new social class. We have officially become a part of the homeless community. I haven’t quite begun digging in garbage cans or picking the bugs out of my hair (well, maybe a few times), but finding a place to call home is a lot harder than we thought. It is taking longer than I expected, but more because we have chosen to go through real estate agencies rather than craigslist or something online. I’m not sure why we have chosen this way, but it seems to give us the best chance at getting out of poverty. At least the properties are giving us accurate descriptions of the places unlike craigslist. We have probably gone to about 15 viewings so far. Maybe at first we were a bit picky, and we definitely didn’t get into the game fast enough.. but hopefully it works out for the best. We have our hearts set on a place on Collins street. It’s in a large Victorian building called Temple Place. It has huge windows, a full kitchen, dining and living room, and two nice size bedrooms. Comes completely furnished with leather couches and things. Even laundry and a dishwasher, weo! Its really great. However, there is a small problem with water damage in the floor – so the landlord is concerned about renting it out in case something happened to a tenant and it turned into a liability. We sent our application in on Wednesday and they take three business days to process, but we still haven’t heard anything back. Our fingers are crossed that Monday morning we hear great news, but we also have two other applications pending just in case we don’t get Collins street. The other two are really nice as well , but we don’t find out about those until Wednesday. Wednesday is fine too, but its $90 a night for the three of us at our hostel and we’ve already stayed 10 nights, so $900 for less than two weeks – way too much.
So that’s it then! Apartment hunting, school, work, friends, the boys, Melbourne. Not much more I can say. OH! And we opened Australian bank accounts, so no more international million dollar surcharges which is awesome. Now TD just has to transfer me my money and I can feel like a real aussie. Its about 5pm on Saturday night here, the boys are playing soccer with some other guys in the hostel. I’m going to have a laydown (shocking), maybe go up to the roof and read, make some dinner, and then off to a toga party tonight. The boys and I decided we are going to wear work out clothes and pretend we thought it was a YOGA party instead, haha. Just so we don’t have to make ridiculous togas. We’ll see how it all works out. Wish us luck with the apartments search. I love and miss you all.
This week I thank God for fine Australian wine.
Till Next Time…
Thanks, Tara, for the update. Hope all goes well at the doctor's with your eye. Good luck with the job and house hunting, and thanks for increasing the font size on your blog for us boomers. Take care.