Welcome Week overall was very enjoyable! After everyone arrived and signed in on Friday, we broke into host groups and went on a City Scavenger Hunt. The hunt was hilarious because they asked us to complete outrageous things such as proposing to a random person from the street and jumping into a random person's vehicle and then exiting. Before we started the scavenger hunt, they taught us all a dance and one of the challenges was to perform it on stage in front of a crowd in Federation Square! Yikes! When our group finished the performance, we got a thunderous applause. I'm not sure if people were clapping because we were good or because it was over ! :) Either way, I had a blast that day.
I really got to see the beauty of Melbourne, as it incorporates a versatile range of architecture. Many of the buildings are new skyscrapers while others have a rustic medieval construction. I also really got to know my way around Melbourne on the trains and trams! There was an instance when I was reading the challenge list and I was so focused on deciding which one to complete, that I wasn't paying attention to my group. When I looked up, my teammate were no where in site. They were Iong gone! Yes, that means I was lost in a new city by myself. I looked around and I thankfully saw another group. Since I didn't have a cell phone yet, the leader from the other group called my leader and I was able to meet up with them again! Phew! I got lucky on that one!
After the scavenger hunt, we all went back to college and had dinner. We had a dancing party where they played a lot of music from the states, which surprised me. I thought they would play Australian music, but apparently Australians listen to the same songs as Americans do because they don't have many popular original songs for themselves.
The Second day, the program brought us to the Ocean Grove Beach and signed us up for surfing lessons! At first, I was very apprehensive about partaking in this activity because I can't swim that well. I can swim under water, but I can't float! For example, I'm in a five foot pool, I'm fine because my feet can easily touch the ground after swimming, but if there is an 8 foot pool, I'm pretty sure that I will just sink because I can't remain on top after swimming. For surfing, I thought if I stayed near the shallow parts I would be fine. I probably wouldn't recommend surfing without knowing how to swim because it could be really dangerous if the tide gets vicious! That being said, I had a BLAST! Surfing is so much fun because when you ride the wave, you get this amazing jolt of exhilaration as you ride the wave with the wind flowing in your hair. I wasn't able to stand on the board, but I surfed on my knees and had a great time. We were literally at the beach for the whole day because 200 of us were receiving swimming lessons. Half-way during the beach excursion I was ready to leave because there is not that much you can do at beach. Also, I'm not much of a beach person, so that didn't help. For lunch they served us "Fish and Chips". I was literally waiting to eat fish, chips, and nacho sauce. Nope! In Australia, they call their french fries "chips". When we got back to the college, we had our dinner and they brought us to Lygon street afterwards where we had a gelati tour. Gelati is really big in Australia and they have many cool ways of preparing and making it in front of you.
The third and forth day, we had a University Campus Tour and then went on a field to play team building activities. We were divided into different groups to compete in 12 different stations including a frisbee game, egg drops, and vegemite. What is vegemite you ask? Well vegemite is a Australia's famous sandwich spread. For one of the activities, we had to eat spoon fills of vegemite and it was absolutely disgusting! The leaders knew that we would hate it and they made it into a challenge. It is very salty and has a very strong smell because it is concentrated yeast extract. I don't know if I will ever eat vegemite again. I can safely say they ruined it for me. After the activities, we went to a movie night and for the first time I saw the movie, Frozen! I loved it. We also went to an Australian Football clinic, where we were taught how to play "Footy". That sport is crazy because you can bounce, kick, catch, and throw the football. It appears to be a very tough sport because it has many sports mixed into one! After learning and practicing how to play, I gained a deep appreciate for the sport and all the players because it is not easy. For our final activity, we went to a 'Downunda' Party, which was an Australian themed celebration for finishing the week. Everyone went out and bought Australian items for the event! I really liked that everyone actually put effort into their outfits. We all had a lot of fun as we listened to popular American songs.
After the party the week was over and the following week was Orientation Week ! We moved into our permanent residential colleges and we completed activities everyday. But the week consisted of many boring speeches about rules, expectations, and guidelines. I honestly have to say that the meetings were torturous to sit through, but most of the information was important. For the week, the activities included drinking tea, Australian bowling, Trivia Night, Turns (Party), Dinner on Lygon, BBQ Dinner on the Quad, and career carnivals. Overall, the week was fun and everyone loved that I was from America. They probably had a million questions for me and they loved my accent. Their excitement was very amusing because I did not expect it. :)