Author Archives: Audrey in Australia

About Audrey in Australia

I am a UC Berkeley student studying statistics, math, and computer science. I am spending my semester in Melbourne, Australia, and am excited to blog about my experiences as a Gilman Scholar abroad. Keep reading if you'd like to know what it's like to live in the "world's most livable city"!

A Shift in Perspective

I started my journey in Melbourne both nervous and excited about this new venture in my life. I discussed my thoughts and expectations in my first blog post titled, “Home is Behind, The World Ahead”. Now that I’ve been living and attending university in Melbourne for the past few months, it has now become a familiar place to me. I have made a group of friends, study partners, and discovered some of my favorite spots in the city. I now feel more like someone who lives in Melbourne and less like a tourist or visitor.

Another thing that has changed is my perspective on living and studying abroad. My academic and professional goals are the same as they were before I left for Melbourne, and they will be made possible with the help the Gilman Program has provided. Along with the financial support from Gilman Program, the Program also supplied me with resources such as the Gilman Alumni network. The information shared by this network combined with my experience abroad has me considering attending graduate school abroad. My experience in Melbourne has exposed me to the difference in academic institutions throughout the world, and what these unique differences can offer me.

Studying in Melbourne has provided me with more academic independence, collaborative opportunities, and ways to ask for help strategically. Specifically, at the University of Melbourne there are fewer tutoring resources and help outside of class than I am used to at my home institution; especially for my math and computer science classes. This has resulted in me building relationships with my classmates and professors, as well as required me to do a lot of independent work and research outside of class.

I wouldn’t say that my time abroad has changed me as a person, but it has changed my viewpoint, increased my skills, helped me meet amazing people, and gain new experiences. I now no longer feel limited to the United States and realize that I can go anywhere in the world to work or study. As a member of the Gilman community, I know that I will have Gilman’s support to make that possible. This perspective change is what differs the most from my initial thoughts. I started my study abroad experience expecting a new and exciting time and will be leaving with a new outlook on this area of my life.

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Top 10 Things to See and Do in Melbourne, Australia

Before traveling to a new place, I like to do some research on where I am going and what there is to do. This can reveal a lot about a place’s unique culture, its people, and its values. Melbourne is a historical city full of people from all over the world with values ranging from the environment, artistic expression in all its forms, and diverse cultures. So, here is my list of the top 10 things to see and do in Melbourne!

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Melbourne, Australia:

  1. Queen Victoria Night Market: seasonal; displays the different cultures of Melbourne
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2. Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI): or any of the other art galleries throughout Melbourne such as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International which displays some beautiful indigenous art pieces

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3. Explore “Little Italy” and get some of the world’s best coffee at Brunetti (there is huge coffee culture in Melbourne):

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4. Check out street art: You will find art all over the streets of Melbourne, but start off with the most popular laneway, Hosier Lane (you may even come across a Banksy piece!)

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5. Check out a Australian Football League (AFL), or “footy”, game: Melbourne has a huge sports culture. You can find anything from footy to rugby to cricket!

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6. Go shopping! Chapel Street is known for its high-end fashion while suburbs like Fitzroy and Brunswick are known for vintage finds.

7. Visit Old Melbourne Gaol: (pronounced “jail”) Learn about Melbourne’s history and convict past at this gaol turned museum ( There is also the Melbourne Museum:

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8. See the penguins at St. Kilda Beach or Phillip’s Beach: At sunset you can watch a colony of penguins walk / swim to their shelter, otherwise known as the “Penguin Walk”.

9. Go “bushwalking”! Hiking and camping is popular throughout Melbourne with one of the more popular spots being the Dandenong Ranges

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10. Attend a festival: Melbourne has a huge festival culture. You can find festivals here for nearly anything — music, comedy, film, and more!

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Home is Behind, the World Ahead

Departure & Initial Adjustments

Welcome to my account of adventures in Melbourne, Australia!

Before arriving in Melbourne, I was both nervous and excited about living in a new country. I was nervous because I didn’t know a lot about Australian culture, and I would be away from comfort, friends, and family for the longest I have ever been. I was excited by the potential for new adventures, learning experiences, and new connections. Despite my excitement, I knew there would be times I would miss home. Due to this, I made sure to bring some familiarity with me to Melbourne, such as photos of my family and friends and some of my favorite snacks.

After months of preparation — researching Australian culture, registering for classes, finding an apartment — I finally arrived in Melbourne!

I immediately noticed the differences between Melbourne and the Bay Area. When I left the Bay Area it was cold and raining, while in Melbourne it was very hot as it was the summertime. Besides the difference in season, the roads were also different. I was very confused when I noticed that Melbournians were driving on the opposite side of the road than I am used to in the U.S.

Besides these differences, I felt very welcomed in Australia. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, especially when I was lost, and my perceptions of Australia from television was changed when I spent my second week at the University of Melbourne’s orientation. I was able to learn about summer barbecues (particularly “sausage sizzlers” as they’re called), Australian slang terms (arvo = afternoon, bickies = biscuits (or cookies), breaky = breakfast), and the popular vegemite.

Immersing myself in Australian culture reminded me of the list of goals I made when I found out I would be studying abroad in Australia. These goals included meeting a koala, visiting big cities such as Sydney, and learning about Australian history and its people. I was able to accomplish some of these goals in the first couple of weeks before classes started. Here are some pictures!

Some goals I haven’t accomplished yet are visiting Tasmania, as it’s a state very close to Melbourne that is known for its spectacular nature, seeing Melbourne’s Pink Lake, trying ‘magic’ coffee (a Melbourne speciality), attending a festival (quite popular in Melbourne), learning more about the Indigenous people and culture, and visiting all of the different suburbs in Melbourne as each has a unique culture.

I am eager to accomplish these goals, and am very grateful to have the opportunity to study at the University of Melbourne, meet new people, and experience Australian culture!

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