Jaime's adventures in Oz: Melbourne

26 January 2016

Hi, everyone!
I have heard it’s crazy busy in the office but that you’re all staying afloat! I hope you’re doing well, though, and are able to share a little in the excitement of the 2016’ers!
Anyway, I wanted to provide a little update on the last few days for you. I kind of imagined that I was going to be able to write detailed emails about each day but a few days I’ve been absolutely pooped and just basically do emails and give up. In exciting news, though, I am sleeping like an absolute champion. I think I am probably awake for 90 seconds before I’m out. Then I wake up around 5:30 (which is pretty usual for me) feeling just grand. And, Julie knows very well that does not happen back at home. I’ve become a terrible sleeper. In any case….
So, where did I leave off?
Well, late Monday I arrived in Melbourne and basically went to bed (I think I got in around 11 p.m.). I woke up and wanted to drive around to make myself more comfy with the whole signal thing before I have a group of students staring at me. The first place I drove was to the Apple Store where the “Geniuses” happily swapped my iPhone with apologies and away I went. By “away I went” I really mean “I put my name in a queue and then waiting for TWO AND A HALF HOURS to get the text to return to the store. I did also get a bank account, too, which was quite painless. I pick up my card when I’m back in Melbourne in a couple of weeks. Then I drove around the CBD, kind of orienting myself. I think it’s because I love Melbourne so much that I find it pretty easy (also the fact that the town is a giant grid) and it didn’t take too long to become pretty comfortable with the suburbs and where I was.

University of Melbourne Dental School
OzTREKKers enjoying the classic OzTREKK Welcome meal!

Wednesday was the first “big” group. Nearly all of our Melbourne Dental School students seemed to be there (I didn’t get to do the sign-in sheet because staff thought they were garbage and pitched them while I wasn’t looking!). We also had four med students from last year; they were great! Even though the programs were not the same, the conversation flowed as people grilled them about Melbourne tips and tricks. It was great to see the Melbourne DPT students (there were about six there, I think), too. After breakfast we got a campus tour from two absolutely adorable Aussie students. The funniest part was when one of them was explaining what’s in the student centre. He mentions that you can get your hair cut for cheap in there. The irony is, I swear, that his haircut was nearly identical to this: http://images.dailystar.co.uk/dynamic/1/photos/913000/1913.jpg. I loved it!
I spoke with a few students who were glad to be able to get a card of an actual person (Aileen) and to speak with previous students so that was good. If schedules align next year, I’d love some DDS students. Because their program starts in a few weeks, the students I checked with weren’t in country yet. Aileen was really happy to see students that she had spoken with earlier. She invited them to come by her office for tea any time they wanted.
Oh, I also had Suzanne from Semester in Australia with me at this stop to help me navigate and offer assistance on housing. Most students had housing by this point but she was a great tour guide, giving everyone really great tips about things like a great library that’s nearly always free and has a great coffee shop at the top of a building with some the best views in Melbourne (which I noted!). Plus, it probably saved me from getting a ticket for phoning and driving. 🙂 She was also really great for those students who didn’t have places and were asking about certain buildings.
We shuttled people back and forth to IKEA and Kmart for the rest of the day, and did a few other stops to pick up other random items and that was about it. Pretty simple! Everyone was really great and everyone seemed in good spirits. It didn’t seem (to me at least) that anyone was concerned with anything. So, hats off to Sarah and Adam for that! We probably wrapped up around 7 p.m., give or take. All the dentistry students were going to Lygon Street for dinner together so they were excited and really buzzing. Oh, and one of the trips to IKEA I had a pretty full group in the car and I turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal and they died. It started as a little rumbling and ended in full-on hysterics. It was so funny! It’s been a long time since I’ve been at the root of such mockery and it was quite amusing. I’m sure my face was red as I surely tried to play it cool.
Wednesday: no one needed the van so I took it back around noon. I emailed the Melbourne MD students and waited to hear if anyone needed it; everyone seemed to have their stuff, which was good (and DDS started that day). After taking back the van, I wandered over to the Australian Open (by wandered I mean that I looked at my watch and thought “I’m not in a rush; I’ll walk.” After an hour, I had visions of Adam’s walk home from Tullamarine and decided to hop on a tram). I just got a grounds ticket, which gets me access to all matches except for the ones in the big arenas. I don’t know anything about tennis so I just went over to a big venue that didn’t have a line. I watched some girls (a girl in pink and a girl in yellow) play tennis. I didn’t think they were that good. Their serves didn’t look strong (they were around 150 kph) and I kind of thought I could do that. So I left. Plus my flip flops were sticking to the floor and I was really concerned that they were going to break and that I’d have to walk around without shoes.
University of Melbourne Physiotherapy School
OzTREKK students getting a tour from a current Melbourne student during orientation

So… then I wandered over to the Raonic match and literally happened to walk into an entry without a line. It was actually weird. I asked the lady “Like, can I go?” because all other gates had huge lines. It’s a one-in-one-out kind of deal. So I walk in and I see some seats. In the front row. Beside the Canadians with a flag draped over the railing. For reals. So I sat down with two guys from Vancouver and another guy with a Canadian tie but who spoke with a pretty good Aussie accent. I assumed he skied in Whistler. My new neighbour warned me, “We’re on TV back home so don’t pick your nose.” He kept getting calls and texts from friends in Vancouver saying that they saw him on TV. It was amazing! First of all, Milos’ serves were regularly over 220 kph. You could feel them, you know? It was pretty impressive. The game was quite long and I felt like they really earned every point. Milos won and was a fan favourite as he threw out all his gear into the audience—like sweat bands and arm covers. After four hours in the sweltering sun, you could not pay me to take them. The crowd loved it, though. I also found it comical that he teased the audience with each of his rackets (like he was going to toss them). They also loved it. I was on to his little tricks by racket #2. I think he used about four or five rackets through the game.
Now. The sun. So it’s pretty intense. When I started my walk from Thrifty it was cold and I was questioning my clothing attire (shorts and tee). By midway through the Raonic game, I was furiously applying and re-applying sunscreen. I felt that my skin was going to bake right off. I kept having to remind myself that the sunscreen will protect me (rather, hope that it would protect me). I was really questioning buying Life brand. At that moment, I wanted the expensive brand-name stuff. Immediately after the game, I found some shade and just sat. And re-applied (again). Classic Melbourne weather: four seasons in one day! I woke up today and was pleasantly surprised to see no burns. I was really terrified that I’d show up in Sydney like, well, a Canadian who just arrived in Australia.
Thankfully, I’m still as pasty-white as I was, but a week ago.
Phew. I write a lot.

Stay tuned for Jaime’s next blog: Sydney!