5th July 2015 – I had waited approximately 4 years for this day to arrive. Even standing in Heathrow airport, it still didn’t really feel like I was actually moving to the other side of the world with just one suitcase. Even now, a month after living at La Trobe University, Melbourne I still sometimes have to remind myself that I live in Australia!
Arriving at La Trobe was very similar to arriving at UEA as a fresher (except you didn’t have a car full of stuff, your parents fussing around you, and you weren’t wide awake at 4am due to jet lag!) However, the mixture of nerves and excitement definitely made me feel nostalgic and although I felt slightly lonely at first, sitting in my cold and empty room, I reminded myself that this is the start of a new adventure and I am definitely going to make the most of it.
So, here I am a month later with new friends, a new environment and a new accent to get used to hearing. Although I have been here only a short while, I have definitely learnt a few things…
1. International students are the loveliest people ever!
I guess it’s because we are all in the same boat, wanting to embrace a new lifestyle and make a whole bunch of new friends! The first week I was here was dedicated to the new international arrivals, or ‘nashies’ as the Australians call us! The people I’ve met have came from all corners of the globe and I have already learnt so much about other cultures as a result. The Chinese girl in my flat came round and introduced herself, giving us all a welcome present and a note – it really made my day! I have already made such great friends, to the point where we can make fun of each other’s accents (especially the Americans!)
2. Australians don’t speak how we think they do.
“Put another shrimp on the barbie” has not been uttered once since my arrival, which is slightly disappointing! Australians give “slang” a whole new meaning though as most words are shortened. You can usually guess what they mean but sometimes they make no sense whatsoever! A highlight was hearing a guy genuinely say “G’day mate!” when addressing his friend.
3. Proper shoes aren’t a thing…
Never have I seen so many people just walk around in bare feet on campus. Rain? No problem – no shoes! And flip flops (or “thongs” as they are known here!) are all weather wear, which I must admit I have embraced as a notion myself – wearing flip flops all the time is acceptable and I love it! The laid back, Aussie attitude just means people live in either sports clothes or joggers/pyjamas – I could definitely get used to this!
4. A year is NOT a long period of time!
A whole year? That’s ages! No, it really isn’t when there’s so much that you want to do! I’ve met some friends who I want to go travelling with and between Sydney, the East Coast, Tasmania, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands (I could go on!) there are so many options. In fact, it’s easy to forget that you are also studying a full-time course at University, which can sometimes feel like there is no time for anything else! This past month has already gone by so quickly – I just know this year is going to fly by!
These are just a few realisations since arriving in Melbourne one month ago…I’m sure there are plenty more to come!
Lauren Gilson studied Environmental Earth Sciences at UEA