The month of August has proved to be a busy yet exciting time full of new adventures in Melbourne! Along with my internship and classes, I have been able to do some sightseeing in the surrounding areas. Some of my favorite experiences in the area are a visit to Philip Island, the Camberwell Flea market, dumplings on Little Bourke Street, numerous sights in the city, and get-togethers with new friends from around the world.
I was fortunate to have my family visit during the first part of August; therefore I was able to drive (yes, it is on the other side of the road!) to Phillip Island. This is about a 90-minute scenic drive from Melbourne, known for sustainability and its furry inhabitants of koalas, wallabies, and penguins. Mainly a tourist attraction, Phillip Island is keenly interested in the conservation of these Australian critters, so there are different nature parks devoted to these animals. I was mostly interested in seeing the koalas and the wallabies in their natural habitat, since I had not seen one yet. Our first stop was the koala conservation center, where we enjoyed bushwhacking and walking along various boardwalks through the forest. We came across many sluggish Koalas taking their afternoon nap accompanied by numerous colorful Australian birds. Once we were ready to leave we fortunately spotted a family of wallabies jumping through the bush; they were so tiny and adorable! After a short lunch in the coastal town of Cowes, we drove along the shoreline to witness the breathtaking and spectacular views. All and all Phillip Island was an incredible experience; I plan to go back before I leave to see the nocturnal penguin parade.
Most of the new places I have been with my friends have all been visited by tram. One of our tram stops was to the nearby suburb of Camberwell on a Sunday morning. We came across an enormous flea market selling all sorts of funky and vintage items. The atmosphere was full of delcious aromas of fried foods, live music, and quirky people. Although I did not purchase anything, it was fun to look through the heaps of vintage junk and enjoy the surroundings. My friends and I often venture into the city during the weekends to check out cool new food spots. Although we have tried numerous different restaurants, we always go back to dumplings on Little Bourke Street. This street, Melbourne’s “China Town”, harbors various delicious yet cheap Asian restaurants. Our favorite place is a rustic Chinese restaurant that serves all sorts of dumplings; you can get a plate of 16 dumplings for six or seven dollars. Basically, it’s all you can eat for less than ten dollars, which is amazing for budgeting students like myself. We have also visited the botanic gardens, a short walk from the city center, the old Melbourne Gaol (the Australian way of spelling “jail”), and the Melbourne Museum! I highly recommend all of these places to get a sense of what Melbourne is culturally.
Finally, another highlight of this month has been the various get-togethers and barbeques with other international students. I have gone to a Korean barbeque (I even ate grilled kangaroo!), a Thai lunch, and a spaghetti dinner. This is a great way to learn about other friends’ cultures, and to connect with people from all over the world.
Currently, I am in a scramble to complete my assignments so I can enjoy a nice long week in the Gold Cost and Byron Bay up in Queensland! That’s all for now, Cheers!