I’ve been in Melbourne for a little over a week now and am still adjusting to the culture. I’ve re-trained my instincts and now know to walk on the left side of the sidewalk, always ask for the toilet, not the bathroom, and to put much more faith in the public transit system than I would in the States. I’d had a reasonable idea of what to expect in Australia, and have found that Melbourne exists outside of those expectations. The city and its surrounding suburbs are bursting with culture, and with so much to explore, it seems a bit overwhelming. However, I know I have plenty of time to see all that Melbourne has to offer.
Finding lodging proved to be very difficult, as many apartment listings are posted relatively close to the desired move-in date, leaving little breathing room for the American sense of urgency in pre-planning. In the end it worked out for me, and I’ve reserved a room in a shared flat in Elwood, a beach suburb south of the city. Living with someone from the area has made the adjustment easier, and its been helpful to talk to someone who knows how to get around. Additionally, my flatmate has the most adorable cat who has taken a liking to me. It’s a lot harder to be homesick when you have the world’s fluffiest cat asleep in your lap.
Today is my second day of classes at Collarts, and the learning environment is much different than at Drexel. Here, a “campus” refers to just one building! Collarts is a much smaller institution than Drexel is, but there are just as many resources to ensure student success. The student well being center offers free counseling to students, and counselors can assist with any and all problems ranging from academic success to mental illness and personal success. There is also an emphasis on providing support for those within the LGBTQ+ community, and Collarts and the state of Victoria both have support programs. So far, I’ve seen Melbourne as being a healthy and safe environment for those of different sexualities and gender identities, which is what I expected out of the city environment. I know that this level of acceptance isn’t the same across all areas of Australia, and a conversation with a Collarts professor revealed to me that Australian politics and culture haven’t always been so accepting.
I’ve already become friends with some of the other students who are also just starting out at Collarts this trimester. Everyone is here studying something they’re truly passionate about, and both the professors and students are friendly and approachable. I am thankful to have received such a warm reception into this community, as it truly makes the adjustment to Australian culture much smoother. So far, my first two days of classes have been fun, and I can’t wait to see what else both Collarts and the city have to offer