Sunday, March 1, 2009

Absolutely happy with life in Melbourne

In this second and final part of my interview with Pei Pei, she relates her feelings and opinions on a variety of topics relating to the international student experience in Melbourne.

I live in shared accommodation near the Clayton campus of Monash where I go to uni. It is definitely very difficult to find accommodation here. There are lots of student seeking off campus accommodation, so rental properties become quite a scarce resource with availability unable to meet demand. I think that this makes rental agencies quite rude, as they don’t have to worry about the properties they are handling, knowing that there are so many people who are desperate for housing. As for price, those properties located near campus become unreasonably expensive. Living in home-stay accommodation is even dearer, plus I don’t really think I’d like the food provided!

In terms of my experiences living in shared accommodation, I have heard lots of horror stories. I am constantly hearing complaints from my friends or friends’ friends that their housemates are being difficult or their landlord is being unreasonably harsh, even doing things like asking them to move out at extremely short notice. Ideally, I’d live in a cozy and clean newly built rental property with two to three other people. Of course it would be even better to have an opportunity to live with local people in a nice neighborhood in order to really experience Melbourne’s culture.

This brings me to the subject of meeting local people, I don’t think international students usually get many opportunities to do this. I was able to make local friends through my recent vacation work experience in Queensland but if I hadn’t had this opportunity I may have never had a chance to mingle with local students. Before my vacation I had been to soccer matches, footy matches, charity events and other things but only once did I really get a chance to meet any Australian students or their families. This occurred through an activity organized by St Johns Church near Caulfield. Some friends and I went to one of the church volunteer’s houses and had dinner with her family and friends. It was a really great experience.

Overall I think life in Melbourne is fairly easy for international students, especially compared to remote areas like the island I stayed on during my summer vacation. On the island there weren’t any Asian supermarkets or grocery stores, plus ALL the shops were closed on Sundays.

Sure the public transport here isn’t great but that is because Melbourne is more sparsely populated than most Chinese cities and the majority of the population have private cars here. This just means I have to plan my trip before I go out otherwise I might get caught waiting for a long time or stuck because of the dreaded NO SERVICE notice.

And in terms of safety I’d say that overall I feel quite safe here, except when I’m walking down the street and someone yells out ‘Sexy!’ Many of my friends have had this experience and have talked about it, so we just don’t go out alone anymore.

If I could make any changes I would let international students benefit from the public transport concessions that local students enjoy but on the whole I have been absolutely happy with my time here in Melbourne. The city itself is the most international city in Australia and there are heaps of exciting events happening here everyday!

No comments: