Daniella Pineda, covered in vegemite, reporting to you from Melbourne, Australia.
Already I have inhabited this wonderful country for two months, and let me just say it has had its up and downs. But aside from getting adjusted to a new environment, I have undergone such a massive learning experience, and it is in my opinion that everyone, if granted the opportunity, should go abroad. There is nothing like it.
Now, when leaving the U.S.-call me na’ve-I was preparing myself for a wild twenty-four hour Mardi Gras of sin and chocolates ( I also knew I was going to turn 21 here). Of course when I arrived in Melbourne, I found out the University where I was studying (Uni Melbourne) was not only rigorous, but the 19th best school in the world. I have no idea who rated it, and on what basis, but all the students here love to brag about that one. I couldn’t escape the big books. So my suggestion, if you can, is to take your classes pass-no pass, you’ll thank me later.
Australia is still considered a Western country, but even so I love the differences in culture. Melbourne, of all the cities in Australia, is the most diverse in its population, unlike Sydney. By the way, people in Sydney are really freakin’ tall: everyone’s a sycamore tree with overly stylish hair. (Yes, I’m making a generalization about the people being tall, but what the hell are you gonna do about it? Yeah, that’s right).
In Melbourne there are large Greek, Arab, Chinese, Korean, and Malaysian populations and more. There is also a large Muslim population. The live music scene here is very alive, and like the Bay Area, there is a wide selection of different types of food everywhere! Yum yum!
Okay, next, a big mistake American students make abroad is that THEY HANG OUT WITH OTHER AMERICANS! Don’t do this, it defeats the purpose of visiting another country and experiencing something new. People are going to think you’re lame if you come home and say, “Yeah I just came back from Kenya, and I made so many friends.from Michi-gan.” If you do this I will find you and spank you good.
Recently, Australian President Kevin Rudd made an official apology to the Aborigine people for years of mistreatment and oppression by non-natives. This marked a critical point in history, especially since Australians have been in serious dialogue about issues of racism and white privilege. It’s pretty cool-I’ll turn on some cheesy morning show where people would usually just sit around and drink coffee, and they do that too, but you’ll also hear them discussing race related issues. I doubt Regis Philbin has ever blurted a word about race relations or systematic inequality under that shiny orange skin.
So these are a few things I’ve picked up on since my arrival, but don’t worry, this won’t be the last time you’ll hear from me. In my next segment, I’ll share some tid bits and other tasty morsels on love, the girlfriend/boyfriend issue, and how to find a good study abroad program. Until then, cheers mate!