Saturday, September 7, 2013

Melbourne: All fun and no work?

So I've got questions from a couple people about how school is? You know, the "study" part of studying abroad. Well in case you were wondering, it isn't all fun and play... a girl has to crack down sometime and hit the books.

At our library study spot, we are here often

Being here in Australia is great, the city of Melbourne is lively and fantastic, and meeting Aussies is so fun. It is also really great to have the group of international students around campus, everybody is so nice and friendly. We all hang out often for school events or just for fun. A few of the things the school puts on for us are potlucks, free footy (Australian football) games, movie nights etc... its a great way to meet everybody at school. The international students come from all over the world; from Japan, to South Africa, to Germany, to Mexico, and everywhere in between. I have been fortunate enough to find a group of people I really click with, and we do tons of things together. Affectionately known as the Rebelzz, this group of people has become a very close group of friends. In the group we have Denmark, Canada, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and the USA represented.

At an 80s party
At the Charles Dicken's tavern in the city

Deakin University is a fairly large campus, consisting of about 17,000 students, and is constructing new buildings as it continues to grow. It is a spread out campus that has a river and park running through the middle of it; a peaceful place that is great for walking, running, spotting animals, or taking the dog (you can see the park in the map below).

I am taking three classes here, which is considered full-time enrollment. One of my classes is International Migration and Multicultural Societies; this is an interesting class that looks at being the "stranger/other" in societies, racism, migration patterns, etc. We often look at developing countries and there internal affairs, but we also focus on the immigration policies of countries like Australia, the USA, or Great Britain. It is really interesting to get an Australian perspective on immigration, and there have been some major events since I've been in Australia that have changed the immigration policy. Australia deals a lot with what they call "boat people" (or what I call "people") who are refugees taking boats and trying to illegally enter the country. (Read more about the "By boat, no visa" here: ). These policy changes happened in July, and the ramifications are now being hotly debated because September is election month where they will decide the next Prime Minister. Although I am familiar with immigration issues because it is such a hot button issue in the United States and particularly southern California, Australia seems to act quicker and more drastically. The main sentiments toward immigrants to Australia is that immigrants will take the jobs from Australians, that they don't have anything in common with Australian culture, and that they sincerely need help because they are fleeing from horrible conditions, repression, and life threatening discrimination. The sentiment is mixed, but what is focused on is the negative. I tend to share my experience and knowledge about immigration in the United States, my experience being the "other" in South America, and my work with Burmese refugees while in Thailand (read more about that here: ).

My other classes are Ethics in a Global society and Order and Justice in World Politics. Both of which are fascinating classes that look at issues like global justice, human rights, the justification of humanitarian aid, immigration policies towards refugees and asylum seekers, international institutions, and patriotism and nationalism. Again, it is great to get the perspective of these concepts within the Australian context.

We have about 6 weeks of school left, exams take place in mid-October. It is flying by, but I'm learning a lot!

To read my previous post on spending time in an Aussie jail, click here .