Sivu on muuttanut uuteen osoitteeseen


Monday, February 23, 2009

Apartment hunting...

St. Kilda Beach

Trying to look for a room is tiring, exhausting and time-consuming. I’m sick and tired staying at the hostel, I miss my own space and privacy. Some of my stuff was also stolen the other day. I would like to finally settle down and start the normal everyday life here in Melbourne.

I’m a bit annoyed by the fact that I changed my flights because of the orientation week, which wasn’t in the end that important, mainly just getting to know new people and drinking. Bar crawls and afterparties and stuff like that every night. The orientation ended in this welcome dinner on Friday at a posh restaurant, Red Scooter in St. Kilda. There were red carpets and everything. Then a bus drove us to the afterparty at a club in Chinatown. I was on my way home when I ran into a boy from the hostel reception, David and ended up drinking tequila shots with him until 6 o’clock in the morning.

On Sunday I went to St.Kilda, which is a town next to nice beaches and it has a crazy nightlife. It’s about 20 minutes away from the centre. Satu from the same dance group and university finally came to Melbourne and we went for a jug or two with the girls (We don’t drink pints here, it’s either a pot=285ml or a big jug. I usually take the latter, you know me). Here they play lots of live music at pubs. All the bars also have ATMs inside, which is cool. 

The transportation system is good here once you learn how to use it. It’s easy to move around the city by taking a tram or train. Daily ticket(=Metcard) costs about 5 euros, so it’s not exactly a free ride, but then again you can move around as much as you like. And there are also free trams moving around the city centre. Because we are study abroad students aka our uni has paid the tuition fee for us, we don’t get student concession cards. That sucks, cause the transportation is going to cost a lot…

The university is big. The Clayton campus centre is like a shopping mall with many shops and food courts and there’s also for example a meditation room, a theatre and a swimming pool. I have 4 units for the semester, I couldn’t even take more even if I wanted to, which was a bit strange but I don’t mind :) I suppose it’s a part of the deal with the university… My units that I should pass are human resource management, integrated marketing communication, organizations: contexts and strategies and experiencing Australian landscape. The latter one should involve trips e.g. to the Outback and stuff like that.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Starting uni in Melbourne & the cognitive overload

So much new information and so many new people that it’s almost too much, it’s exhausting! It’s impossible to remember everybody’s names and what they study and where they are from! The orientation week is going to be fun but exhausting, we have lots of school and every night some activities that always include some drinking…

I met Heli, a Finnish girl from the same university at the train station. We hadn’t met before, but we had been in contact via facebook and email. We took the train and the bus to the uni. Outside uni we met another Finnish girl, Yvonne. After some pancakes and coffee (yes, it’s normal here to have pancakes and ice-cream or muffins for breakfast) we had a few hours of lectures about Australia, the bushfires, accommodation, public transport, enrolments and so on. It was loads of fun, quizzes in the between, fun games and people throwing candy to us every once in a while. If lectures were like that in Finland, I might go there sometimes!!!

A man from Singapore talked a lot about culture shock, which hits everyone sooner or later. We went through the phases, symptoms and what to do and what not to do. I’ve been having all of the symptoms: I’m homesick, missing everybody, appreciating Finland in a whole new way, getting easily frustrated over minor inconveniencies and problems, getting irritated over things easily if they don’t run smoothly, everything feels superior and feeling like giving up… Sometimes feeling sad and depressed and wondering why I did this in the first place and having difficulties in concentrating and doing the normal everyday stuff. According to him it’s normal…Then the lecturer listed the things that do NOT help in getting over the culture shock, and they included drinking, smoking, partying, not sleeping and eating properly….................  He told us that it’s going to get better in time and you just have to keep an open mind and remember the reasons what you are there for. Also, everybody keeps telling us all the time that this is going to be the best times of our lives and we have to take the most of it. The lecturer from Singapore also told us how he had been dating for 6 years in Singapore before he came to Australia and after 3 months in Australia they broke up. And he never got over it! 

In the evening Philippe, whom I had met in Amsterdam a year ago came to pick me up from the hostel. We went to buy some more wine for the picnic that we had at Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s a huge beautiful park with a beautiful view of the city. The picnic was arranged by the uni and again I met lots of new people. From there we went to some bar. I had one drink and after that Philippe took me home. I was so tired that I slept without any sleeping pills or even ear plugs until the late afternoon the next day and missed uni.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finally Down Under

Just when I was on my way to check in to the flight I noticed that I had lost my credit card,  no surprise there! I had zero cash on me and I knew that I was going to need money to pay eg. for the hostel and the overweight of my backpack.  First I tried to ask around if anybody had found it but I only got pissed off because the people didn’t understand English. So I had to call Finland and cancel the card.

But no worries mate! At the check-in counter I met an Australian boy who also studies commerce at Monash University, at the same campus. He promised to help me out if I had any problems with having no money. He also told me a little bit about the start of the semester. In the plane our seats were next to each other. The flight took about 9 hours. I was freezing the whole time but they couldn’t even give me a blanket without any money. I tried to wrap my legs in the dresses that I had in my hand luggage so I wouldn’t freeze to death. Tim, the Australian guy, had taken a sleeping pill bought in Thailand and he slept the whole way.

From Melbourne Tullamarine Airport I got a free airport pickup to my hostel. The minibus driver gave me a tour around Melbourne CBD before driving me to the hostel and told me a lot about Melbourne. There was still a lot of smoke from the bushfires surrounding the high buildings of Melbourne. The weather was about +25C and not as humid as in Thailand, perfect! The driver also told me that last week they had measured the highest temperatures in Melbourne ever, +47C, and many of the animals, plants and trees had died because of the heat. It was the hottest day in Melbourne history, same kinds of temperatures were measured the last time in 1939! French guy in my hostel told me that his flipflops had burned in the asphalt and the wind had felt like a hundred of hairdryers had blown on you!

My first impression of Melbourne is really good. I saw some great shoe shops on the way over! Everybody’s been really friendly and helpful as well. I also like the multiculturalism, every third person speaks other than English as their mother tongue and almost 40% have been born overseas or have parents from another country. The weather is perfect. It also seems like there’s so much to do here. Western Union sorted out my money issues as well.

On Saturday I just slept and rested. I also took a sleeping pill bought in Thailand and slept like a baby for 24 hours, although there are 9 others staying in the same room and people come and go and there is a lot of noise. When I woke up I went for a run to the park. There are lots of nice parks everywhere and trees surrounding almost all the streets. The architecture reminds me of big European cities. People have been amazingly nice and helpful. If you open a map on a street there is always someone willing to help you out. Everybody’s always chatting to you eg. in the elevators and trams and everywhere which felt strange at first after living in Finland where nobody talks to strangers :D After Thailand it also feels great to speak and hear English…

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Destination Melbourne

I am currently at the Bangkok airport, cranky because the wifi is not working and there is nothing to do and tired cause I haven’t slept at all last night.

Phuket was a bit of a disappointment. In the evening when we went out, Patong beach seemed beautiful and I was quite excited to be there. Joonas had been throwing up the whole night and he didn’t feel good so he stayed at the hotel. When we got to Bangla Road I was shocked. Although I had heard how bad it is, it was even worse than I imagined… Old western men surrounded by hookers everywhere, it is pretty gross! We went to Hollywood bar, had a few drinks and played this stupid game where you have to hit a nail with the wrong side of the hammer.

When I saw Patong Beach in the daytime I was disappointed. I tried to sleep, but you really can’t get a moment of peace there. All the time somebody is trying to sell you something, whether it’s massage, t-shirts, food, drinks, jewellery… And the beach road is the same. Indian people selling you a suit or dress, girls yelling ‘massage, massage’ and all the time somebody is pulling your sleeve and trying to get you to buy something. The water on the beach is muddy and there is rubbish in the water. Patong is the worst tourist trap ever. It’s really expensive too. Food is almost as expensive as in Finland. Tuktuk costs 10 times as much as in Bangkok and the clothes and drinks at least double what they cost in Bangkok. In Phuket there are also probably more Finnish people than in Finland. I don’t want to travel to the other side of the world and only meet Finnish people.

After two nights the boys moved on to Koh Samui and the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. I decided to stay in Phuket because I only had a few days left and the one-day-journey felt too long for that… I took a room at the same hotel because the manager gave me the cheapest price that I could find (which was not cheap at all, 10 euros per night!). I went to Patong beach again and chilled with some crazy Brazilian boys that I had met at the Finnish club Seduction the night before.

The next day I had a moral hangover about not working out at all in 2 weeks and so I packed my bag and took a tuktuk to the only gym with bodypump classes in Phuket, in Kata Beach. It turned out to be a luxury resort and one bodypump class would have cost me more than 20 euros so I decided to skip it. I went to Kata beach instead. It was beautiful. White sand and clear water and nobody trying to sell me anything. I stayed there until the sunset.

In the evening, when I was walking around looking for a good internet café, I ran into two Finnish guys and later I bumped into them again at Tiger club. The next day I went to see the waterfall with the boys. We climbed 130 metres up just to find out that the weather’s been so hot and dry lately that there is no water at all. From the ‘waterfall’ we drove to the shopping centre in Phuket Town, Festival Centre. Not very good. After shopping we went for a quick swim to Kamala Beach, which wasn’t much better from Patong.

After that I was going to get my nails done, when I found the shoe shop of my dreams. I spent two hours trying on different boots and sandals and ended up buying 5 pairs and spending 4 days’ budget. My nails cost just 10 euros but the result was a disaster. I got my toes painted at the same time and that was also a disaster. I would have done a better job if I had done it myself.

I had some problems with the manager of the hotel who was coming on to me a bit too strongly and in the end I had to leave the hotel at night before I had a chance to get any sleep. I was outside on the beach until morning and then took a taxi to the airport. The beach in the moonlight is one of my favourite things in the world and with the right person it would have been really nice...

All in all, Thailand was a bit of a disappointment. The beach parties were fun and the water was clear, the snorkeling was really good in PP island and also Kata Beach was beautiful. However, I’ve seen more beautiful beaches with less tourists for example in Greece. I think that the tourists have ruined Phuket and Phi Phi. Even the partying wasn’t good, the bars weren’t good and they closed at 2am!!!

On the other hand, I only saw a small part of Phuket or Thailand. I wanted to visit Similan island cause I heard it’s beautiful but I didn’t have the money for it. Also, I should have rented a motor bike the first day I got to Phuket. I would have saved money and I would have got a better picture of the whole island. Although I don’t have a driver’s license, but from what I’ve heard it wouldn’t have been a problem =). I’m sure there are still good places in Thailand that aren’t yet ruined by tourists. However I’m happy to move on to Australia!

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Chilaxing in the Phi Phi Islands

On Saturday Lasse and me flew to Surat Thani. My backpack was so full that I had to leave half of my stuff at the guest house. Hot sunny weather in Surat Thani felt great after the hectic and polluted Bangkok. Lasse wanted to stay there for one night cause he had the worst hangover, but I wanted to continue to Phuket right away. So we took a bus from the airport to Phuket Town. The trip took about 6 hours.
We didn’t sleep at all the previous night because we were afraid that if we go to sleep we will oversleep and miss the flight like I did the last time... So we were pretty tired, hungover and cranky when we finally got to Phuket. We took a room from Phuket Town. Lasse’s friend Joonas also joined us there. The 3 of us went out to eat and for a beer and then to sleep.
The next day we took a boat to Phi Phi islands. Again, we took the first cheap room we could find, 8 euros per night. The sun was already going down so we bought a big bucket of Sangsom and coke and went to the beach…
The next day we spent at the beach, first time! Crystal clear water, white sand and clear sky... Just what I had been waiting for J In the evening we had a few buckets again, and I convinced Joonas and Lasse to try thaiboxing. I suppose I just wanted to see somebody to kick Lasse’s ass for me. They were drunk enough to do it. It was so funny to watch and I laughed my ass off!! Afterwards Lasse was spitting blood and couldn’t open his mouth and Joonas still has a sore leg.
We met two Finnish girls and one guy and decided to take a longtail boat trip together the next day. We spent some time at Maya Bay (from the movie The Beach), it was really beautiful. Then we wanted to find some quiet beach where we could chill and relax and clean our livers and suffer the hangover away… So the boat left us at this quiet, beautiful beach with just a few bungalows. We paid about 3 euros a night for our bungalow. We only had electricity in the evening for about 5 hours. There were ants and lizards there, cold shower and the toilet had to be flushed with a bowl of water. Back to basics! Two days there without alcohol really did wonders and after that we felt a lot better, but we were also eager to get back to civilization.
So yesterday we got back and took a bit more expensive room, about 10 euros each but it also has warm shower, minibar, tv+dvd, internet… We felt like we wanted some luxury after the aboriginal life J We opened the first beer as soon as we got to the harbor and after that …. Well I exceeded my budget big time buying those buckets!!!
Today I woke up at noon and tried to wake up the boys, but they wanted to sleep although we were supposed to check out Long Beach today. So I was gonna go there on my own, but Lasse finally got up and came with me. Joonas stayed at the hotel suffering his hangover. Lasse and me spent the day on the beach enjoying the sun, sea and cold drinks.

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