Laura’s Postcard from Melbourne

Laura Griffin studied on the exchange program at the University of Melbourne while completing her Bachelor of Science (Engineering) degree at University College Dublin in Ireland. She is now completing a Graduate Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health through UCD online, whilst living in Melbourne.

Why did you choose this host institution and destination?

My mum has always told me about Melbourne and Australia and how it’s one of her favourite places to go, so I always had it in my head that I really wanted to go to Melbourne. As soon as I arrived in Melbourne, I quickly learnt about the University’s high reputation – it certainly lived up to that.

What is your favourite memory from your overseas experience?

I’ve met so many incredible people, many from living in the student accommodation. I lived at Lisa Bellear House and met amazing people there who I went travelling with during my first summer in Australia. I also just got back from an eight week road trip where we drove the whole way around Australia. There have been so many incredible experiences, it’s just such a different place to anywhere else in the world!

Australia is so vast, you get all different climates; you get the city life in the south and as you go up north, you get to the desert which is just vastness. In Northern Queensland, you hit the rainforest which again, is just completely different and unreal.

What was your biggest culture shock moment?

The mullets – I don’t understand the hair, I think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world.

Australians also shorten every single word, they don’t speak in full sentences which is bizarre. I do like some words though, ‘arvo’ is my favourite. People actually say ‘G’Day’, I thought that was just make believe. The accent was one of my favourites things about going to Australia though.

What is one thing any student visiting your destination must see or do?

I love the lifestyle in Melbourne. It’s such a great place for eating out, I love all of the little coffee shops and going out for brunch. My favourite place is up in Brunswick called Green Refectory, it’s a cute little shop. It’s such good food, I used to walk there and grab a juice, they also have great biscuits and cakes. Queen Vic Market is the best place to go for fresh fruit and veg, it’s just right near campus.

I loved the nature side of Melbourne too. It’s surprising for such a big city how much beautiful nature there is, like the Dandenongs or Werribee Gorge. Down the Mornington Peninsula including Sorrento is also so beautiful. There’s just so much to see and do – get stuck in.

Share one piece of advice you wish you knew before going on exchange.

When I got here, Melbourne was bigger than I expected. I had classes all over the campus, so I was running around trying to find all the different buildings. I definitely had Google Maps out for the first six weeks of semester.

The time difference was also a bit tricky. When I first arrived the time difference was 9 hours, so I only really had a chance to speak to my parents in the evening. That was tough but we got used it, I still call my mum everyday or two. Facetime definitely helps staying in touch.

What’s one key lesson you have learnt from the experience?

Always say yes. I’m always up for every kind of adventure. You’re only here for a short time, so get stuck into it. The international exchange society MUSEX, was the best thing for me to join. It’s such a good society, it’s full of people who just want to see the city, explore it, go out and have a good time. They run events every single week, it was the way I made my core group of my friends. You get to meet locals as well as people on exchange. We did boat cruises and nights out. There was a surf camp where we went to Phillip Island for two nights. It lashed (rained) the entire time we were there so we were all freezing but it was still one of the best weekends. We’ve also done bike tours around the city. It’s such a great society that really makes you feel a part of it from day one.