It’s a given. Studying and living in Melbourne could be one of the most, if not the most, interesting experience anyone could have. Its vibrant lifestyle, diversity, and excitement just know no boundaries. I lived in Melbourne for 4 years, which might sound like a long time. Ironically, there remains plenty of things that I should have done when I lived there, but didn’t. Now, if you are planning to study in Melbourne, or are currently studying there, here are some of the things that you might need to cross off your bucket list (If one or more is already ticked, congratulations! You are truly living it!)
1. Staying at one of the universities’ residential colleges
After four years of wandering around campus and almost two years after leaving Melbourne for good, I still could not help but wonder how my university life would have been had I stayed at one of the residential colleges. Some of my friends who had stayed at the residential colleges during their university days never failed to leave me in awe with their stories. Living at university colleges allow them to live with other students, especially local Australian students. They got to spend everyday together in a close-knit community and immerse themselves in the local Australian students’ lifestyle. Moreover, they were given a tutor of their own to monitor and evaluate their academic performance, as well as an access to their own 24 hours library.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in a dormitory like those portrayed in college movies, or better yet, like the wizards in the Harry Potter movies? If you are planning to study at the University of Melbourne, I recommend you to visit one of the revered residential colleges in the main campus. As a cherry on top, some of the residential colleges would often have a sports competition among themselves. Fun fact: one of the sports included is Quidditch. Yes, that* Quidditch from Harry Potter.
*without the actual flying
2. Volunteer on activities completely unrelated to your background or major of studies.
Let’s put it this way: I studied media and communication for my undergraduate degree. Hence, I spent three years of my studies being involved in activities that are very much of “media and communication” nature. Certainly, those efforts were really worth the time when I began building my resume.
However, sometimes I am still curious about other volunteering opportunities in Melbourne that I might have missed out. One example, a friend of mine who studied finance spent almost a year volunteering for a charity education center in the outskirt of Melbourne. During her stint, she volunteered to teach Basic English to refugee children from the Middle East. Those activities were entirely unrelated to her finance studies, yet it enabled her to interact and help children who needed her assistance. Whether or not the volunteer work would be an additional asset in her CV (I certainly think it would), she had unquestionably possessed an experience that no one else could take away from her.
3. Volunteer on activities completely unrelated to your background.
No, that was not a typo. Yes, I stopped at the “your background” part. And by background, I mean our identity of being Indonesian. It is, of course, undeniable that the Indonesian Students Association at Australian universities is a great platform to collaborate with other Indonesian students, and also learn how to work in an organization, among which includes preparing for events, conferences, and many others. However, you should try to spend some time volunteering for other non-Indonesian activities within or outside of your campus too.
This item isn’t actually one of the things I should have done because I have done it. I volunteered as a writer for an international affairs magazine whose writers were selected from universities across Melbourne. Through that experience, I had a brief opportunity to work with students of Australian and other nationalities, collectively working to write magazine articles on international relations and affairs issues.
Moreover, through that experience, I was able to be a part of events whose speakers include former Prime Minister of Australia, the late Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser, as well as the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. I could not imagine who else I could have met had I stayed longer. My point is that you should surprise yourself by joining other activities outside of your comfort zone. You never know what lifetime experiences with which they could nurture you.
4. Take a barista lesson at one of Melbourne’s finest coffee roasters
Regardless of whether you like coffee or not, Melbourne has arguably one of the best specialty coffee scenes in the world. I personally think that even coffee shops in cities like London, Los Angeles, or Tokyo could not beat the experiences I had in Melbourne’s coffee scene. To my regret, I never joined any barista lessons in Melbourne, let alone a cupping session at a coffee shop. If you, indeed, are a regular coffee drinker, you should do more than just spending every morning sipping coffee at Melbourne’s greatest coffee shops. Instead, you should attend their events or cupping sessions. Or even better, you should take a barista lesson while you are there. Although it is certainly quite expensive to take such class, I would suggest saving up since the experience would be very rewarding, not to mention that the specialty coffee scene in Indonesia is growing faster than ever. Even if coffee doesn’t really entice your taste bud, you can still consider it for the business prospect.
All in all, the list above doesn’t do justice to other vibrant and unexpected experiences that one could gain in Melbourne. The city is full of surprises. Its diversity is real. Its dynamic energy is unstoppable. Make the most of your time in Melbourne and let it surprise you with its various façades of life.
Photos provided by the author
Edited by Hadrian Pranjoto
Mary Rasita is a Master of Arts graduate in Political Communication from the University of Leeds in the UK. Prior to that, she did a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications & Political Science at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She finally resides back in Jakarta and is now working as an Analyst at Indonesia's e-commerce giant, MatahariMall.com. During her time in Melbourne, she has co-founded a Melbourne-based print magazine called Perspektif. She is keen to sharpen her knowledge in 'the internet of everything', intersectional feminism, and observational comedy.
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