The wind is blowing, the weather is chilly, people are friendly. All sounds like a normal autumn/spring/summer day in Jönköping (winter days are not chilly, rather ice cold). But as a matter of fact I am talking about my exchange semester in Melbourne, Australia, roughly 15840km away from my Swedish home.
As a Master student of the two years Managing in a Global Context programme at JIBS, you get the opportunity to go abroad once again, even though you might already be abroad in Jönköping. To be honest with you guys, this was also a major aspect why I had picked Jönköping as my home university in the first place: Internationality.
In January I finally got the answer to my question: Where would I be in six months from now on? And the winner was Melbourne or in terms of the university: Deakin University in Melbourne. I want to share with you my personal experience about living in the most livable city in the world (six times in a row winner now :).
One of the major questions that we all ask ourselves is “Should I stay on campus or off campus?”. Deakin University is located a rough 40 mins tram ride off the city center. I personally wanted to experience the big city life. Hence, I decided not to stay on campus and look for a room in the city instead. After having joined a few apartment groups on Facebook and a Skype call later, I eventually had a lucky shot: One room in an apartment in the city center.
So I was going to live with Tim, from Australia, Ru, from Sri Lanka and Björn, from Germany. However, I first needed to get used to the way Tim or true Australians were speaking English :P. He is originally from Darwin up north in Australia or from the bush as Tim often describes himself. Thus, his English was a bit different from the English I was usually used to. Just to give you a little taste of what I was surrounded by 24/7 here a best of some good old Aussie jam:“I reckon” (I think), “heaps of” (a lot of), “You’re a gentleman and a scholar” (You’re a good person), “Good enough for the bush, mate” (more or less good to go), “cactus” (broken, like a dish washer or so), “cooked” (when you’re a cactus person); “Fair dinkum” (Genuine) or “hooroo” (Goodbye).
Apart from my housemate, I got to actually live in Melbourne. One thing about Melbourne is actually that it is pretty easy going. You will never see anybody neither in a hurry or being unfriendly towards you for no reason. As a consequence the resulting vibe in Melbourne is quite unique in the world. On the one hand there is the CBD (Center Business Disctrict) with its many skyscrapers and on the other hand there are the famous districts or suburbs of Melbourne like Richmond, South Yarra, Fitzroy, etc. All combined together give Melbourne this special touch. In other words businessman meets hipster. G’day mate.
Another thing about Melbourne is the great variety of cultures and nationalities which everybody can easily notice on the streets. Actually, Melbourne is a good example of how integration is supposed to work: Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, Americans, Hispanics, Aussies and tourists all live together in harmony and peace, since one respects each other. Multiculturalism at its best.
Multiculturalism also leads to a further aspect which Melborne is famous for: Its cuisine. I personally do not know a place where I can have food from so many different cultures like in Melbourne. From Ethopian, Thai, Swedish…to German food ;), there is literally everything you can imagine of. And it is all delicious! Usually, the restaurants are spread all over the city. Also, a good way to get to know the city, expensive though :P.
When we already speak about the famous cuisine, I should not forget about the sick coffee scene in Melbourne. I would not regard myself as a huge coffee fanatic which is why I cannot speak for myself. But what I have heard from coffee fanatics is that there is the world’s best and most special coffee. Coffee in different shapes, colours, tastes and creations. The coffee culture is big in Melbourne which sometimes reminded me a bit of intense Fika sessions back in Sweden.
Now I have talked so much about food and beverages that it would make me feel guilty if I did not at least talk about sports for one paragraph :P. Besides rugby, there is another sport that I had never heard of before I came to Australia which is the most popular one in Australia. It is called “footy” which is short for Australian football. The respective league is called AFL, Australian Football League. Roughly explained, footy is a mix of football, American football and rugby. Whilst the game in play, there are 18 players from each team on the pitch trying to score the most points for their teams within 4 x 25 minutes. So it is pretty packed on the field. The final of the AFL is called the “Grand Final” which takes places in Melbourne. Afterwards, there is always a big party. From my point of view, it seemed like the whole city was partying which was personally the part that I enjoyed the most :P. The day after is a public holiday in the state of Victoria. This allows everybody to recover from a rough night 🙂
But my stay in Melbourne would not have been the same if I hadn’t had fantastic people to hang out, party, drink, get away or study 😉 with. Melbourne provided me with a great environment, but the people actually made my time there. All those people are from all over the world like the people of Melbourne. And this completes the circle.
All in all, it was totally worth ditching the European summer for a very moody winter in Melbourne. Anytime again. With this in mind, hope to say g’day very soon again, mate!