Melbourne, Australia (28 November 2014 – 30 December 2014)
My first experience traveling to a different country alone was exhilarating and compelling. The seven and a half hour flight I took alone consisted food, games, movies, music, and sitting next to a couple of strangers that couldn’t speak English or any other language I knew.
Upon arrival, Melbourne, Australia’s erratic weather conditions; its frigid mornings of summer and scorching heat in the afternoons definitely took me by surprise. I was greeted with smiling faces, open arms and I was especially impressed for receiving yeomans service.
For the first half of my holiday I attended Trinity College’s Young Leaders Program at the Melbourne University. It was a non-stop two weeks of fun and excitement that left an undeniable impact on my life.
I met like-minded individuals from all over the globe that helped me look at things from a different perspective and form unbreakable bonds with them. I learned about new cultures, a variety of lifestyles and gained more confidence and knowledge that will help me in the future.
It was indeed an incredible experience. I miss our lectures and workshops. Simply spending our leisure time playing table tennis in the basement or hanging out with my friends jamming to Taylor Swift songs. I miss the mentors yelling “Lights out guys!” once the clock hit 10.30pm and how on every excursion when we are forced to take the tramp, they would yell “YLP next station” before we reach our stop.
During my stay there, we had karaoke night, amazing race, trivia night, hip hop, Zumba, movie night etc. We visited the yakult factory, Old Melbourne Gaol, etc. My favorite was out visit to the Parliament House Victoria. We were given a script in which we acted out a real court hearing. I cannot be more grateful for the experience.
While everyone packed their bags to be sent to the airport, my uncle picked me up and brought me to his house right in Melbourne. Living with my uncle for the remaining two weeks of my vacation there was a huge opportunity for me to experience the country first hand, as if I were a resident of the country itself. Spending my days in a suburban area, I managed to experience some places that didn’t quite meet the mark. I saw many places that some tourist didn’t think were worth being in a guidebook.
There are many places to visit just in Melbourne and my favorite would be Eureka Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform. It is truly alluring to watch the sunset from such a vantage point. Melbourne’s pellucid waters are perfect for water sports. Although I am aqua phobic, I did not pass on a chance to go paddle boarding and finally brave my fear of water.
The bustling streets of Melbourne city is a place full of life. It was intriguing to explore what the next turn in the street may hold. The Southbank’s Fireballs was a heartwarming experience. The sight of flames bursting through the tall poles; I have never seen anything so magical in my life. I was also blown away by the graffiti street art visible to the yes almost everywhere I went. It added a little spice to the view of the buildings.
The Melbourne zoo’s variety of animals including being able to finally see penguins was amazing. The Melbourne Aquarium on the other hand was a daunting experience. Just to be able to look up and watch a shark swim over me was definitely scary. Conversely, I learned a lot about aquatic animals through it.
The highlight of my time in Melbourne would be my trip to the Enchanted Adventure Garden on Arthurs Seat with a couple of friends I made along the way. It is an award winning adventure park featuring garden mazes, tube slides, tree surfing and interesting sculptures.
I also managed to visit The Puffing Billy Railway. I loved being able to hang my feet loose outside through the windows as the trained passed many green idyllic surroundings.
Christmas in Melbourne is an experience of a life time. All the houses and streets are lit up with Christmas decorations. To my surprise, there was absolutely no one working on Christmas day so every shop is closed. However, you could find almost anyone and everyone on the beach with their family.
If there was something I wished that I knew before I took the trip, it would be bringing along appropriate clothing. I wasn’t aware of Australia 4 seasons in a day. Although it was summer, somedays the temperate would go down to 11 degrees or all the way up to 37 degrees so that is something I believe everyone should look out for.