Abigail Mcgarry - Melbourne, Australia
"Studying abroad has opened opportunities that I’d have never got on my own and I can’t thank Leeds Beckett enough."
My first week in Melbourne
I arrived on Friday late at night and the city was lit up like a Christmas tree, the view from the plane gave me butterflies. I stopped in a hostel on my first night and I felt safe. Don’t just stop in any hostel though, I did my research and paid the extra few dollars a night to ensure quality. In no way was it the Ritz, but I met three new friends and we went out to a bar to calm my nerves and they introduced me to a place I’d have probably never found on my own. How many bars in England have board games?
The great thing about studying here is that I got to choose preferences on my class times and I got to choose which modules I would take, I’m so excited to start learning about all different types of laws, all within three days which allows me to get a job for at least two of the other four days. Which I’d recommend if you’re planning on stopping for a year because food is very expensive here, but shop around and you learn the best ways to shop just like England and an added bonus is they do have Aldi.
The next day I moved in to my house, which is not quite the standard we get in the UK, but if you pay more, you get more. It’s in a safe neighbourhood, it’s cheap and I have my own room, because believe me when I found out I’d have to pay a minimum of $250 a week to get my own room in university accommodation I nearly passed out. Sharing bedrooms here is normal, count yourself lucky in Leeds.
After the first few days the free time was starting to make me feel homesick, because I was just waiting around waiting to start university and dwelling on the fact that all my friends at home were in bed. I went to an Aussie mates meeting, this is a really good way to make friends and I can’t thank Victoria University enough for having a club that teams you up with an Aussie student who is, either going on a study abroad semester or has been on one. It makes you feel a little bit of relief that you have an assigned friend. The club also arranges nights out, coffee meet ups, Pot and Parma nights (no, I don’t have a clue what that means either but apparently, it’s an Aussie delicacy) and sporting events whatever we’d like to do really.
After the orientation day, it feels like everything is looking up and I was so excited for the orientation trip to Great Ocean Road. The orientation day, allows you to look around a room at over 70 people in the exact same position as you, despite the fact the UK representation is really low, you know you are going to make friends. I spent all afternoon drinking coffee and chatting with two girls from Germany and one girl from South America, which is amazing, it gives you chance to open your eyes to other people’s culture as well as the Australian one.
I’m so glad I came to Melbourne. I’ve got the benefit of being in a state that thrives from migrants, international students, and people on work visa’s. The culture is so diverse. I stood on the platform waiting to go to the city, the number of different races around me was amazing; Australian, Aboriginal, Vietnamese, Sudanese, German, Chinese and possibly more.
I attended a full moon party at the Crown, which as my friend Kt said, “it is like the future”, I’ve never been anywhere before, that is, a nightclub x3, shopping centre, casino, food court, and has an array of restaurants. But that’s not my point here, that night I met people from all over the world, Dubai, Brazil, Columbia and many more. They were all dancing to the same music covered in luminous paint. Everyone was there with the same attitude to strike up a conversation with the person dancing next to them. I eventually lost count of how many times I answered the question, “where are you from?”, which is incredible that no one just assumed where I was from. If they did they were intrigued where I could possibly be from in the UK with my Yorkshire accent, not being obvious to anyone outside of the UK.
The multicultural society has taught me a lot about the norms of places around the world, whether that be the legal system of Australia and its conflicting history from 1788 to now. The history of Britain and its influence on Australia today; be that a good or a bad thing. Even meeting lots of people from various places in Europe, despite living in the same continent some aspects of our lives are very different. The German’s love for travel is so inspiring. The fact that most people from non-English speaking countries speak better English than me, has made me want to learn another language.
Final Thoughts - August 2018
Here we are, 12 days before I leave. I honestly thought it would never end. I think this blog is a big thank you to everyone that has walked in to my life in the past year, old and new. Whether you realised it or not, you have helped me have the best year of my life and grow in to the person I am today.
Almost a year ago, I wrote my first blog trying to convince myself that I was going to study abroad in Melbourne for an entire year. If I could go back now and tell myself that I was going to feel confident in myself, in the way I look, in my own character and in my opinions, in a year’s time, I probably would have asked if I could leave sooner. Everything I have experienced has shaped me as a person. A person that’s still got a lot to see and a significant amount of growing to do, but what studying abroad has taught me is you can enjoy every minute of your growth.
The experiences that matter the most are the ones that helped me get to know who I truly am:
- The times I have laughed uncontrollably driving up the east coast with three girls who will never realise how important meeting them was to me.
- To my dear friends who lent me a sofa to sleep on and a feeling of safety when I first moved to Melbourne.
- To the times I’ve cried my eyes out because I couldn’t be there for life events that were happening back home.
- To the moment I reached the top of Mount Wellington with friends who did nothing but encourage and make each other laugh the whole way up.
- To driving along great ocean road as the sun set, realising even if you have a rough start to the morning it doesn’t mean you’ll have a terrible day.
- To getting up and going to work in scorching heat every day over summer, but it was all completely worth it for the money that I made, and the friends that I made from working with an amazing group of people.
These are just a few amazing contributions to my incredible year in Australia.
I’ve had the pleasure of living with an amazing girl, who I have learned a lot from and hopefully I have imparted a little wisdom on too. As well as her family who have welcomed me in to their family with open arms. Not only was it lovely to feel part of the family, it opened me up to new experiences. Things like this make home sickness a little easier to cope with. Homesickness being a natural side effect of living away from home even if you’re having an awesome time.
As a whole, I could not have wished for a better year that had both highs and lows because nothing is perfect. However, one thing I have learned is that it is how you overcome those situations that truly matters.
Back Home - September 2018
Now I am back...
I fell in love with Melbourne and every part of my life! I’ve had a great year, but I’m back now and it’s time to see the positives. I’m back with my friends and family that care about me; I’ve got a degree to finish, that I’m going to smash; a language to learn, and a whole world to save up and see. More than ever, I am certain of what I want to do with my life, and I am willing to travel anywhere to achieve it. I want to work in International Human Rights Law, because I want to use what I am good at to help other people. Hence, why I’m learning a new language. This is all thanks to my year in Australia and I wouldn’t have realised it any other way.
Thank you, Australia you will be missed, but I will never forget this year.
Before I left my dad said to me, “The best form of education is travel” and it’s probably one of the most important things he’s ever said to me.
The journey has been one of the most educating of my life, not just because I’m studying another countries ways and laws, but through the people I have met and the confidence I have gained from coming to Australia on my own, it teaches you to truly go it alone and if you believe in yourself you’ll have a great time! I certainly did.