During the Gold Rush in the 1850’s…

During the Gold Rush in the 1850’s…

Welcome back to my blog! I ended my last update, which if you missed, you can read¬†here¬†(it’s a good one) saying that I was excited to update you all on what I’ve been up to, and there’s¬†quite a bit for me to get through again. It’s tough, this travelling stuff. I also ended by saying that I’d had more nose bleeds than friends. I’m pleased, surprised and ever so slightly confused to say that this is no longer the case. So I think I’ll start there.


I’m obviously pleased because it’s¬†great to have people around to talk to and do things with, I’m surprised because I’ve been here just over a week and it feels like I know so many people from different corners of the world and it’s all happened quite fast. I’m confused because, well… I¬†think this is the most German I’ve heard spoken in my entire life, and I’ve been to Germany twice. I’m going to do my best to explain how this has happened but if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure.

My shared kitchen area
My shared kitchen area

After I moved in to my flat last Monday, I met one of my Australian flatmates and ended up playing Fifa with him for a¬†bit and then going to KFC with three Australians later that day,¬†so I got pretty into things straight away in my permanent accommodation (consisting of my own room,¬†two shared toilets between 6 of us, two shared showers, a shared kitchen and lounge area). That was the sort of thing I expected to happen, but after agreeing to meet up with two Germans the next day for a library tour, I didn’t expect things to¬†turn out quite how they have done.


The library tour itself was probably what you would expect from a library tour.¬†Turns out that Australian libraries are used to store and loan out books too, so actually they’re quite similar to British libraries. Following the library tour, the three of us went to a caf√© around the corner on campus (aptly named the Corner Caf√©) to get to know each other a little. We were later joined by one more German and a Malaysian girl,¬†and so our little international group began to grow. This was also to be the beginning of my first spontaneous trip out of the campus. In Melbourne, to get around on public transport you need to purchase a MyKi card – a prepaid card that you ‘touch on’ (press against a box when you get on to a bus/tram/train) and ‘touch off’ (the same action as you get off which takes off the travel fare from your MyKi balance). You can purchase these from various shops around the city, including the bookshop on campus here at Deakin university, but for whatever reason, they don’t sell the concession cards. So you have to pay $9 for a standard MyKi card, top up the card with enough to get to¬†Box Hill (the nearest place that does¬†process concession cards), then spend another $9 on the concession card (once various forms have been filled in and pretty passport type pictures have been taken) as well as topping the concession card up too. With a one hour journey on the 75 tram¬†from Deakin university at $1.88 (or around 90p) into the city centre, the concession card was definitely worth getting on that first day. Whilst obtaining the concession card forms to fill out, I also¬†obtained my Deakin University student ID card, which can be used¬†as a debit card to purchase things on site too. This has probably been the most boring part of my little update here.


Wednesday was looking promising in terms of things going on. There was an exciting looking welcome session for international students, where we received our orientation¬†packs including health insurance cards, club and societies booklets and a few leaflets. The session lasted around 10 minutes and actually, if I’m being brutally honest, wasn’t that useful for myself and the Germans that I’d gone with as it was about things such as the MyKi card and the Deakin ID card, which we’d done the day before because we’re model students. To try to meet people from my faculty I decided to go to an optional arts faculty introduction session in the afternoon where I was promptly told because I’d been to the morning international welcome session I didn’t need to bother, as the information was repeated here. So I returned to another caf√© on campus with the Germans where we¬†had a drink and talked. It was here that I met another two German girls, and we’d all planned to go to the Queen Victoria Market that night, where I took a grand total of one picture¬†and quite honestly, it isn’t very good. Before this though, we visited the ‘hipster’ area of Fitzroy, drinking a coffee at a caf√© getting to know each other further¬†whilst people watching, before heading on to the Queen Victoria Market.¬†At home I tend to stay away from hot food, but this is a year abroad and one of the main ideas behind it is to try new things, so being the adventure crazed animal that I am, I tried some “Devil’s Chicken” which resulted in a red face and some ice cream. It was good, and I would have it again, but the ice cream was well timed. I don’t have any pictures to prove that any of this actually happened, but I’ve improved dramatically since, I promise.


On the Thursday we had a further compulsory information session for international students. This talked us through various information such as emergency numbers, what the Deakin security staff can do for us, familiarising us with our faculty buildings and their locations as well as¬†informing us about a¬†surf day for international students that the university is organising for January. We were also left in the hands of a Deakin University student, who was out on exchange at a university somewhere in Asia.¬†To be more precise, it was either Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan or Malaysia. I didn’t write that bit down. He was telling us about his experiences abroad and suggesting ways we could make the most of our time at Deakin, which was quite useful. Following this, I went¬†food shopping and bought a SIM card for my phone, so I now have a fully functioning Australian phone number!


The observant amongst those reading have probably realised that Friday comes next. On Friday I opened an Australian bank account which was just as exciting as it sounds, so I’m going to fast forward a few hours and suddenly I’m in Melbourne Museum with three Germans after having gained free student entry and we’re walking around a World War exhibit.¬†Looking at things from an Australian point of view as a Brit¬†accompanied by Germans was an odd experience. There was a poppy memorial area, where people were encouraged to write messages on pieces of card and stick them on a board, with the majority saying thank you to those who have fought for their countries and our freedom. I didn’t say anything at the time but it registered in my mind that the Germans didn’t quite understand what the poppy was and what it symbolised.¬†At this point I’d like to fast forward almost a whole week to the 11th day of the 11th month this year. Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day. How it came up I’m not entirely sure, but myself and a German girl¬†got talking about it and I explained Remembrance Day, the poppy, the silence – everything. As a history student it was interesting for me to talk to her about our cultural differences today when it comes to Remembrance Day. On the 11th November, Britain and the Allies remember, but meanwhile in Germany, Carnival (which is called different things – fasching, karneval) begins and Germany celebrates. I should stress that these are entirely unrelated and that Carnival has been celebrated for centuries. Germany doesn’t actually¬†have an event to¬†remember those who fought in the wars which I suppose I understand and I don’t understand all at the same time really. It’s obviously a difficult topic and in order to do it justice I think I would need to start another blog because it was such an interesting conversation, but what talking to my friend about this did achieve personally was really make me miss studying history, and I can’t wait to get back to it next trimester here at Deakin.


Federation Square and, to the right, Flinder's Street Station
Federation Square and, to the right, Flinder’s Street Station

Let’s jump into¬†what appears to have become some sort of text time machine and go back to Saturday. Myself and six other Germans met at Federation Square (to enlarge images just click on them, I know they’re a little small sometimes and hey some of these pictures are really cool) to join a $1 walking tour of Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) with all proceeds going to the ‘Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Appeal’.

Our $1 walking tour group!
Our $1 walking tour group!

The tour lasted around 2 and a half hours and was led by an American woman who has lived and worked in Melbourne CBD for the past 5 years. The tour took in two Cathedrals – St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Flinder’s Street Station, Federation Square, Chinatown, views of the world famous MCG (or the Etihad according to my German friend Benni (who would like it placed on record that he is the greatest German of all time. Ever.)

St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral

until he was corrected by a random Australian woman who laughed at him on a train), Melbourne’s parliament building, various hidden bars as well as incredible, graffiti plastered streets. This is the part of my blog where I get to explain the title.¬†As wikipedia will tell you, Melbourne was a major boomtown during the Gold Rush, and¬†from the information we’ve received about the city, it seems like everything was built during the Gold Rush in the 1850’s to

Street Graffiti in Melbourne
Street Graffiti in Melbourne

the point that we were joking that the Etihad (whilst looking at the MCG) was built during the Gold Rush in the 1850’s. That’s it. I couldn’t think of a better title. I really do recommend the $1 walking tour with Jess to everyone though, there was a lot of information such as the rumoured mix up in plans for Flinder’s Street train station and a train station in Mumbai, resulting in British architects accidentally constructing the Indian train station in Melbourne, and the Australian station in India,

Street Graffiti in Melbourne
Street Graffiti in Melbourne

as well as the ghost story of Princess’ Theatre where an opera singer suffered a heart attack mid performance leading to his death before the performance had ended, yet the whole cast claims he was there taking his final bow with them at the end. It’s now a tradition to keep a seat free on the opening night of any performance at the theatre so that he can take his seat and watch. On top of this, the sites themselves were really interesting and by now hopefully you’ll agree that they look pretty good on camera too.


Nothing happened on Sunday.


But then, not much happened on Monday either. Trimester 3 officially started, although none of us actually had lectures. So there we were at 9am, tram 75 Deakin University station once again in order to catch a tram to catch a bus to walk to St Kilda beach. Four Germans. Two Americans. One sun-crazed Brit.

Life's a Beach
Life’s a Beach

We spent the day lying around, playing Frisbee on the sand, playing Frisbee in the water, and I saw a big purple jellyfish! Which probably wouldn’t have been too friendly to me, but it was amazing to see one floating harmlessly so close.


Since the beach, I have actually reacquainted myself with the world of study, having been to my criminology lecture and seminar this week and¬†I look forward to studying that from a historical perspective and trying to look at how crime has altered¬†over time, as well as¬†looking for any Australian cultural differences to crime that perhaps I previously wasn’t aware of. I have an online unit¬†looking at Capitalism too which I’m looking forward to getting into. Additionally, I’ve started casting half an eye at ideas for my dissertation back home next year. I keep getting¬†small ideas for it but nothing, I feel, anywhere near substantial enough to write and research in enough depth for a dissertation. I’ve decided I’d like to visit some museums here in Melbourne alone in order to try to get some more ideas and maybe take some notes down then come back to the library here at Deakin and make use of their fascinating book system.


I hope this has been even slightly enjoyable to read, it’s already becoming difficult to keep up with how much is going on around here but I’m absolutely not complaining about that, Melbourne life is fantastic, I’ve met so many people from so many different corners of the world, it’s amazing.

St. Paul's Cathedral and Federation Square from Flinder's Street station.
St. Paul’s Cathedral and Federation Square from Flinder’s Street station.
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Singapore Surprise!

Singapore Surprise!

Before I get into what promises to be quite a lengthy post I thought I should probably start at the end. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So¬†I’ve¬†made it safely with no problems of any concern whatsoever to my short stay studio apartment in Melbourne.¬†The plan from here is to move out tomorrow into a shared apartment with other students in Deakin’s halls of residence (basically upstairs somewhere). For now, I’m trying to knock back a mug of coffee to keep me going through¬†crippling jet lag just long enough to finish this and get started on cooking some soup.¬†This¬†update is so long that I almost recommend you¬†consider getting a¬†mug of coffee to get you through it. I promise I’ll add some pictures to make it look more interesting.

So, back to the beginning.


I got¬†up as late as 04:15 am to be driven to Manchester airport to get on a plane to Munich, where we had an hour before getting back on to fly to Singapore – a total travel time of at least 12 hours. Out of those I think I slept for maybe three of them.¬†I arrived in Singapore at around 8am the next day, with the only plan in my head being to get to the hotel. I decided to put this on hold for a bit to take advantage of the WiFi in the airport so that I could¬†let people know that I’d made it okay. After getting¬†a taxi to the¬†hotel and still being a few hours early to get into my room, I decided to try to find Clarke Quay (the¬†nearest area of any interest to the hotel). Unfortunately, to say that I have a good sense of direction would be roughly as misguided as my sense of direction. Even after picking up a free, detailed fold up map of Singapore and asking¬†at the hotel for some hints, I still found myself¬†trying to walk up a down escalator in a mall in the opposite direction to where I wanted to be. Good start. But on¬†the back of what must be considered to be two nights of poor sleep quality, the jet lag and the searing heat of Singapore (the lowest recorded temperature since 1929 in October is 20.6 degrees.¬†I checked the temperature in an air conditioned shop at one point and it was 28 in there.) I could almost be excused. Almost.


Clarke Quay, Singapore at night
Clarke Quay, Singapore at night

I eventually found Clarke Quay and enjoyed walking through the modern area which was packed with bars and restaurants before purchasing a 24 hour City Sightseeing bus tour ticket, riding round on one of the loops for an hour to familiarise myself with what I might want to see and heading back to the hotel to get into my room, get my head together and plan the rest of my day. After getting on to the bus again at Clarke Quay, I got off at one of the first stops afterwards at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This is exactly what it sounds like, nothing surprising to be found here, just some nice looking trees and flowers.

Evolution Garden entrance
Evolution Garden entrance

There were differently named gardens (I only did two or three as there was a lot of walking involved and to be quite honest I kept falling asleep on the bus.) such as Evolution Garden and Healing Garden. Evolution Garden was ordered chronologically, so as you walked through the garden, the more recent the species of plant would become. Healing Garden comprised of plants that had been used in the past as some form of remedy for muscle aches or illness, with plants being accompanied by labels informing the walker of what the plant would have been used to cure, as well as handy advice encouraging the reader to seek professional guidance as opposed to using Papaya to treat kidney stones.


Orchard Central Mall, Orchard Road, Singapore
Orchard Central Mall, Orchard Road, Singapore

I hopped back onto the bus to go to Orchard Road next. An upmarket shopping haven, Orchard Road is the retail and entertainment hub of Singapore with¬†malls lining the street. I¬†opted to go into a mall called Orchard Central, mainly because the building caught my eye. Inside, most of the corridors were actually quite narrow allowing for more shop space, with shops ranging from massage professionals to chocolate¬†shops. I didn’t spend too long in the malls,¬†partially due¬†to the number¬†of¬†places I wanted to see, largely due to my passionate disinterest in shopping.

I hopped back onto a bus and travelled¬†to the Suntec hub, where I got off very disorientated and confused so proceeded to get lost again before finding my way to the Esplanade MRT (Singapore’s public transport links,¬†in this update¬†assume I’m talking about underground trains, because I didn’t use anything else.) and eventually finding Singapore’s Merlion.

Singapore's Merlion
Singapore’s Merlion

The Merlion became Singapore’s mascot for the tourism board once established, and this one stands at 8.6 metres tall (28 feet). There’s another, very slightly larger Merlion on neighbouring Sentosa Island, but more on that later. (By now I imagine you’re getting quite tired of reading, got to keep the interest up somehow, haven’t I?) As you can see, by this point it had got dark, so from this area I could view the skyline of Singapore as well as the Marina Bay Sands hotel towers, the Singapore Flyover, the Helix bridge and other iconic Singapore sights. I sat¬†near the Arts Theatre ready to watch the ‘wonder full’ Singapore light show over the Marina Bay area and noted down “Lots of walking. Very tired. Haven’t worked out how to get back yet. Be a laugh.”


The light show itself was good, nothing spectacular, but it was good. Singapore surprised me here in that in the background to this light show, there was a distant thunder storm rumbling with the occasional bolt of lightning striking the Singapore Straits. This, if I was thinking, probably should have been enough to prevent me going towards another garden where the main attraction was trees.

Silver Garden, Gardens by the Bay
Silver Garden, Gardens by the Bay

But this was in a corner of Singapore, that if I¬†visited the Gardens by the Bay, I wouldn’t need to come back to the next day. So I walked round and over the famous Helix Bridge, designed using the DNA strand as inspiration to the Gardens by the Bay. I was expecting to take a few pictures of some trees lit up and then just leave. After snapping pictures of Silver Garden, I intended to do just that. Right up until I saw some more big magic trees in the distance, and decided that I’d come all this way so it would be a shame not to. This turned out to be Singapore’s greatest and most pleasant surprise, as well as one of the greatest decisions I made in Singapore. As I got to the entrance to Supertree Grove there was an announcement to declare that a light show was about to begin. At this point I struggle to describe just how good it actually was, so I thought I’d include a video here to do the talking for me and give your mind a rest from all this reading!¬†

First I was lost in amazement from this show (which lasted probably at least 15 minutes with other songs including You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story and the Circle of Life from Lion King) and then I was lost in Singapore. Again. Looking for the MRT station which was very clearly signposted but by this point I think my tiredness was changing the direction of arrows on the signs. That’s the best explanation I can come up with, anyway. I eventually got back to Clarke Quay, navigating the underground MRT network very easily to then walk through Clarke Quay at night, where it was all lit up with both, light and atmosphere from so many bars and restaurants jostling for business. I stopped for an ice cream on the way back where the man who served it was able to sort of juggle it around on the ice cream cone with his ice cream scoop… thing. I’d watched him tease the kids¬†before me going for their ice cream, getting them to try and grab it out of the scoop thing as he twisted and turned it, but I thought he was doing it because they were¬†young…. Nope. Surprised him a little when I actually managed to grab it after a few failed attempts and to be fair, it was probably the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had.¬†Much appreciated in the heat too.


You’d be forgiven if you were to take a break now to refill that¬†mug of coffee. I know I’m getting tempted but it gets really good now.

Spoiler: I get lost.


The next morning I checked out of the hotel, left my bags with them and went to the mall I’d accidentally stumbled upon the first time I ever got lost in Singapore to pick up a sandwich from 7-eleven to keep me going. I¬†caught the bus from stop 6, Clarke Quay, and headed¬†all the way to stop 18, Singapore Art Museum (SAM). This was my last bus ride as my 24 hour ticket was due to expire soon after I’d got off, so I¬†jumped on¬†the MRT (each of these journeys only costing around S$1.80 which is roughly 90p) to Little India.

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

At Little India I had a little wander around and found the very simply named Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Rolls off the tongue nicely. The temple is Hindu¬†and¬†in order to enter, shoes and socks had to be removed and left outside, so I did so.¬†As someone who has never visited anywhere like this before, it was quite a confusing experience in that I had no idea what was going on, or what the etiquette was for taking pictures, or where was okay to stand and where not okay to stand. It was different, but I’m certainly glad I went to look.


From Little India, I took the MRT to Chinatown, which was quite busy and… well, hot.

Chinatown, Singapore
Chinatown, Singapore

So I bought a classic magnum and a cold can of mountain dew, this was the only time I experienced a language barrier, having to point on the sign what it was I wanted, with English being one of four official languages spoken there (the others being Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.) Following my exploration of Chinatown, I hopped back on the MRT to the Harbourfront where I proceeded to get lost on the hunt for the boardwalk to the Island of Sentosa. As often the case, I eventually found it and strolled across the boardwalk to Sentosa. Where I got lost. Again. Common sense kicked in fairly quickly here, as I decided as long as I could see the Tiger Sky Tower, I could probably find my way to it.

Sentosa Merlion
Sentosa Merlion

This assumption was (rather obviously) correct and I soon managed to get there, but not before seeing the Sentosa Merlion (you know that thing I said I’d come back to later? Well here it is, almost two hours later and I remembered!) which stands at 37 metres tall (around 121 feet… So¬†nearly 100 feet very slightly bigger than the other one). The view from the Tiger Sky Tower looked out over Sentosa to sea and back across to Singapore, too. I put together a (very) short and (very) fast timelapse video of part of the descent in the tower which I might as well include here.

I stayed around after my trip up¬†Asia’s largest stand alone observation deck to use available WiFi, steal some shade and buy 1.5 litres of much needed water.


Sentosa Boardwalk
Sentosa Boardwalk

I then walked back across the boardwalk to Singapore and explored the mall that the Harbourfront MRT was built into, only to discover a park area¬†on the roof which was odd but very pleasant. After accidentally finding my way into a Singaporean Toys ‘r’ Us store (I got distracted by a large LEGO Merlion at the front of the store) I took the MRT back to Clarke Quay, where I ate on the riverfront. I¬†was later reunited with my bags at the hotel and within minutes inside a taxi being¬†transported to the airport to make the journey to Melbourne.


So now I’ll (finally) start to end where I started; at the end! It’s good to be clear. Once my plane landed at the airport I was greeted by a company providing a free service to students to their destination wherever that may be in Melbourne. I was on a mini bus with 4 other students all 16 – 18 years old and all from China. None of them knew the address that they were going to, one of them spoke English well and they were asking wonderful questions to our Australian driver, Glenn, such as “do kangaroos drink beer?” I was the second to last to¬†be dropped off with the English speaking girl getting off last (rather fortunately for Glenn). He asked where I was from, so I said Wales, then he laughed and said “oh boy, you’ve really got a strong accent there” and said that I’d love it here. So far I’ve had more nose bleeds than I’ve made friends but once I get into my permanent accommodation and get started with lectures and things, I’m certain that’s going to change very soon, and I really can’t wait to tell you all about it. Especially if you’ve got this far reading. I hope this has been even slightly interesting, might try to make them shorter in the future but when it comes down to it I think more detail is better than no detail.


So here I am, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia!

Deakin University
Deakin University

Welcome to my year abroad blog!

FeaturedWelcome to my year abroad blog!

Hi there!

Welcome to my year abroad blog. Thanks for taking the time to come and read this, that in itself is appreciated. This little website that I’ve thrown together is going to be my main outlet whilst I’m out in Australia for updating everyone back home in Britain or wherever else people are, and I’m very excited to see where people come from to read this. Or at least look at the pictures. I’m not sure how often I’m going to update this whilst I’m out there, but I’ll be looking to have something maybe every couple of weeks or so, it really does depend on what I get up to and how much time I have.


I’ve already briefly touched on this, but this blog will be used to update everyone at home on how I’m doing whilst out on my year abroad. I know this is quite a stereotypical year abroad thing to do, but it actually makes quite a lot of sense. I need to submit a progress report at the end of each month to Bangor University (not too much longer than what I’ve already written up to this point), so this will give me a good idea of which points to put into that, or on the flip side of that I can use my progress reports as a basis to¬†expand a little here. It’s also going to be incredibly useful for me as I can send the web address to this blog around to various people so they can receive updates on how I’m¬†getting on with my studies at Deakin University, and what I’ve been up to. So my family¬†and friends as well as¬†the lovely people I’ve worked with at Penrhyn Castle, and staff in the history department at Bangor University could all potentially get to see some of this.

I know it would be a little tedious to¬†try to keep up to date just by checking this website every so often to see if I’ve posted anything, so I’ve made it super easy for all of you, so there’s no excuses. Sorry about that. On the left of the screen (or perhaps at the bottom if you’re on a tablet such as an iPad or¬†some other mobile device) you’ll see a really handy empty box that you can put your email address into. If you would like to receive an¬†email each time that I post an update on here (as I say, I won’t be sending you rubbish, and I won’t be posting every day so I won’t be overloading you with emails, you’ll just be getting an email to say that I’ve posted something here and perhaps you should take a read!) then go ahead and put your email address in the box, check it’s correct and then click the green follow button. Once you’ve done that, you can check your email account after you’ve read this and you’ll have one from “Outbound and Around” asking you to confirm your subscription. All you need to do then is click the “Confirm Follow” button and you’re done! If you can’t see the email, it might be in your junk/spam folder, so check that.


Garth Pier, Bangor
Garth Pier, Bangor
Bangor was showing off on my last full day
Bangor was showing off on my last day

The¬†stunning pictures you can see above were taken on Garth Pier in Bangor during my last full day at Bangor during my recent visit there. As you can see, Bangor decided it wanted to show itself off and really make sure that I missed it. It wasn’t just the distant mountains, the crisp sky and the calm Menai Straits showing themselves off either, the people were phenomenal. I have to admit it did shock me a little that quite a few people came out specifically to see me knowing that I was leaving, and I really appreciate that effort. It¬†surprised me even further that by the time it had come to me leaving Bangor, people that I had never even met until the past week were saying that they were genuinely going to miss me this year too. I wish you all the best. All of this makes me very excited to return to Bangor already, I know I’m at a great place there where there are always great people. Before that though, I can’t express¬†through words how excited I am to¬†start living in the city of Melbourne, and to tell everyone about what I get up to and whether everything really is upside down and out to kill me¬†over there. Only one way to find out, right?

If you made it this far, congratulations and thank you for reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you interested enough to keep reading about my experiences. If you think I’m capable of doing that, do please feel free to make use of that little box for your email so I can let you know when I’ve got something for you! I expect the next update will¬†come days before I leave for Australia if I get time.

Failing that, see you in Australia!

Note: I was not up early to write this to go out at 7am, there’s¬†post scheduling settings that I thought I’d have a play with. I’ve never used wordpress before so bear with me for the first few posts at least!