Studying Abroad in Melbourne, Australia: Rainforests, Reefs, and Really Weird Academic Differences

Before I get into my magical, life-changing, breathtaking, one-in-a-lifetime trip to Cairns (the rainforest and reef part of the title), let me address some minor academic differences. Because they’re important.

deadpan michael scott

Here at Uni, I’ve been studying a mix of economics for the sake of my major as well as film theory for the sake of my minor (and for my entertainment–I mean, I get to watch movies and talk about how bizarre/fantastic they are for course credit). Universities here teach a little differently than in the states, unsurprisingly. They have lectures, which are recorded and put online (people end up skipping class all the time), and we have tutorials, which are mandatory and resemble Pomona’s mentor sessions (minus the leisurely stroll to class and plus a 40 minute tram ride to school). Additionally, I barely have any assignments. My grade for my Competition and Strategy course, for example, is 25% participation in tutorials and 75% final exam. In other words, we have one test.

britney wtf
My first thought: how is anyone motivated to study?

Regardless of the lack of compulsory readings and assignments, I’ve been surprisingly studious. I try to keep up with what we are learning–be it game theory dynamics or cultural misrepresentation in Crocodile Dundee (all hail my benevolent, Paul Hogan-adoring Australian Film and Television teacher), maybe because of the challenge of being abroad. The material I’ve been studying and the academic experience I’ve been having here is somehow profoundly different than what I had back in the states. It’s not so much that classes here are better, just different. It’s like comparing 21 Choices to Mudd’s Personal Pizza Night. Though both provide grand dining experiences, you just can’t compare the two.

Anyway, my point is something like I feel more capable of taking on work in fields and ways outside of my comfort zone (AKA the Claremont “bubble”). Because of this, I feel suddenly inspired to be more articulate and dramatic in my usual blog posts. I feel like maybe I should write something with grandiose syntax, poetically put together with the eloquence of Shakespeare and enthusiasm of Shia LeBeuf

mmm better not

Ah, well. Bring on another list!

In regards to the previously mentioned rainforests and reefs, I was lucky enough to spend a day on the Great Ocean Road and a weekend in Cairns with my family. Australia is a massive country with so much to see and do (which is cliché but true). So here are my top 5 reasons to take a weekend to explore while abroad.

1. ) Kangaroo Selfies


Australia has a quite the diverse and unique array of animals to see. Wildlife here is definitely something you can’t see anywhere else (although Sacramento has turkeys, so all my foreign friends are jealous of me for some reason).

2.) Fish are Friends, Not Food 

It’s the GBR in the distance AHHHHH

While in Cairns, my family and I made sure to visit the Great Barrier Reef. It was just incredible. Fish as big as my head or the size of Nemo swum right by my face or peeped at me from their homey reef apartments. I am absolutely going back.

3.) The Amazing Views (or, substitute amazing with “Instagram-worthy” and get excited)

Mumsy and I enjoying The Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles
Just another hike in the rainforest
Cecil, being all pensive
Cecil, being all pensive on our the sky rail

No words necessary.

4) Making New Friends

finding nemo hello

At the university, you meet tons of international students, but there are so many more interesting people outside University walls. For example, I had the funniest conversation with a cab driver in Cairns who I will never forget. He told me how he wrangled a crocodile into the trunk of his car (it was taking up the road by his fellow taxi drivers), then about how he had to keep it in his house while animal control took their sweet, dandy time to get it. He also punched an aggressive monkey that was attacking his wife. Best cab driver ever.

5) Because WHY NOT



That about sums it up.



New friends, animals, and views at Brighton Beach