Julia Ong Li Yen - Monash University Australia

If you ever get the opportunity to go for the Inter-Campus Exchange Program to Monash Australia, take the chance because it will be an experience you will never get again in university life. I am truly grateful for my parents for allowing me to take on this journey by myself because my time in Melbourne was one of the best (if not the best) semester of my entire Monash journey.

I got guidance from both Monash Abroad and SASS course executive Nurul, in making sure my application and the process runs smoothly. Everything may feel rushed and confusing at first, but when you step on that aeroplane and you greet the Australian weather, you know it will all be worth it. I had the opportunity to stay at the on-campus accommodation (shout to MRS!) on the Clayton campus, and I have to say everyone was so welcoming and it made moving in much better.

Settling down was not easy the first few days but I have my dear-to-heart Turner Hall to welcome me and other new residents into their arms. It made me feel better that there were other people like me, having their semester in a different country far from home. I have these people to thank for being my friends because without them I wouldn’t have called Turner Hall my home from home.

Independence came along, I had to learn to take care of myself, provide myself what was needed, rely on myself in most situations and seek help if needed. Suddenly, you must make the effort to do all these things because no one else will. Living alone will teach you the first step of taking care of yourself. After that, providing for yourself doesn’t seem as hard anymore.

Diversity is something you will find in Australia, I met people from different countries each with a unique personality that allowed me to see beyond my eyes. I got exposed to the different cultures; be it traditions, language, the lifestyle or even food! I have learnt more about the LGBT+ community during my time there because of the people I know who are passionate about and are a part of the community.

I attended classes both at Monash Clayton and Caulfield campuses, and travelling was made easier with the Inter-Campus Shuttle Bus. You could easily get lost on campus because of the many facilities and there are 3 libraries on the Clayton campus! My units were a mixture of Arts and Business units, and I got to meet people from different schools.

The learning environment in MUA is more interactive as their classrooms are designed to encourage active teaching and sharing between your classmates. I truly enjoyed how we were seated during tutorials because the big round tables encourage students to sit in groups which lead to sharing and easy communication with each other. Another bonus feature in MUA is the live lectures. It provides you to interact with the class itself if you can’t make it to the lecture physically. The learning progress was smoother as I felt comfortable speaking out in class as well as getting to know my other classmates.

The libraries at MUA were helpful in studying and generally just relaxing, they have a wide range of books to help you in your assignments and research. There was a time I checked out 11 books for a single assignment and it paid off! Campus life is a blast as they have weekly events and a variety of activities going on all at once.

A trip organised by the MOVE club took us to Phillip Island and they have other activities for exchange and international students! Winterfest is one of the best events I have ever been to, it felt like Monash had its own carnival and IT DID! Food trucks, games and theme park rides were all present, and with the weather turning colder into the night it really felt like a winter carnival with fireworks ending the memorable night.

I am a history and art museums person, so I definitely got my share on those in my time at Melbourne. Towards the end of the semester, I planned trips with my friends and was able to visit Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast although they were all done in a limited amount of time the experience and memories aren’t replaceable. I also visited Great Ocean Road and fed kangaroos at a sanctuary nearby. Byron Bay is one of the musts if you ever head to Gold Coast if you are a beach lover you must. Botanical Garden based in Melbourne is another spot you have to venture yourself or with friends. The garden itself is a maze filled with flowers and greeneries, with picnic spots all around and photo-stops for most if not all everywhere you go. I truly loved my time in Australia, and I would always recall memories through the many photos that captured the moments.