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Monday, March 30, 2009

F1 Australian Grand Prix

I was going to see the F1 Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park, near St.Kilda, with my classmate Ari from California and his mates. I told him that I would meet him there. When I finally got there, the race had already started. Ari said that they are near the start and finish line. I asked this woman at the gate where it was, and she said that it's gonna be quite a walk.

On the way this Italian guy stopped me 'Miss Greece!!' and told me that it's his birthday and he wanted to buy me a car. I said 'no thanks, i have to find earplugs now'. Then he gave me his press card, that entitled the holder access to different places + free food and booze, and his Ferrari ear protectors. Cool. Everybody thought I was working there after that. Anyway, I didn't find Ari before the race was over. And I don't even know who won. I did see a few cars when they drove by. Shame I went there so late. After the race there was this concert with The Who playing, but I wanted to leave. But, I did use my press card when I had to go to the toilet. After I went for a drink.

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Going out in St Kilda

I’ve been getting these disturbing messages from back home – that I should cut down on drinking and focus more on studying?!!? Let’s make one thing clear here! I AM drinking less than in Finland and I AM studying more. Apparently you have no idea of my drinking habits in Finland. (Maybe that's a good thing). And when it comes to studying… First of all, I spent 200 euros on BOOKS. With that amount of money I could have bought at least 2 pairs of SHOES. And I’ve actually read a few pages!!! Normally I don’t open a book until the night before an exam.

Last week I was sick in bed for two days. I just felt really sick and weak and couldn't eat or even move and I had a terrible headache. I just slept and watched 2 seasons of Desperate Housewives. My flatmates were amazed about the fact that I was spending Friday night at home resting.

On Saturday I was feeling better and because the weather was so nice, I took the train+tram to St.Kilda and went for a drink... or two. This time we went to Mink, which was nice, there are these big armchairs and you can close the curtains so that you have your own private space. After Mink we wanted to go somewhere we could dance, so we went to Riva by the beach.

St.Kilda was even crazier than usually because of the Grand Prix, everybody was out. Last week in class we talked about crime in Melbourne because there had been a stabbing at this huge nightclub in the city. I haven't been there yet. The professor said that there is more crime in Melbourne today than there was before, and he asked our opinions, whether we think Melbourne is safe or not.

St.Kilda is definitely one of the most dangerous areas because of the crazy nightlife, with all the junkies, prostitutes and nutcases. I don't think it's safe to walk around anywhere in the night time by yourself if you're a girl. Especially St.Kilda or the city. I do it anyway, cause I have to. I hate taking the train at night, because there are ALWAYS some sort of drunk or otherwise crazy people that put on a show.

Last week on my home street this SCARY-looking druggie girl harassed me. She really looked like she had escaped from the film The Grudge. I know junkies are usually harmless when they're on drugs, loving life and the world and everybody, but still they make me nervous because they're so unpredictable.

I had a scarier encounter with a junkie at the beach one day, when I had just arrived in Melbourne. I was chilling at this quiet spot away from the people when this guy came to talk to me. At first I didn't even notice anything strange, not until there was foam coming out of his mouth when he couldn't stop babbling about how handsome he is and how much I probably want to kiss him, lol. He was also shaking and his eyes and voice was all strange. I just ignored him and got my things and left. He even followed me for awhile. Creepy.

So yes, Melbourne is definitely more dangerous than Lappeenranta. But on a big city scale it's hard to say cause I haven't lived in any other big cities...

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pics from Surf Camp

A couple of pics that Dexter had taken at the surf camp.

Sunday afternoon

Waiting for a bus...


Learning some theory...

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Surf Camp on Phillip Island

I was very tired and hungover in the bus to the surf camp on Phillip Island. But the weather was purrrfect!! We slept in dorms of around 10 people and altogether there were about 40-50 international students there. The camp was just by the beach, and there were wild wallabies everywhere. One of the camp leaders warned us about poisonous snakes and sharks, they have the biggest population of sharks in Phillip Island in whole of Australia. She also told us that the last time they held the camp, somebody had actually woken up in the morning with a possum sleeping on him!

Then we got our wetsuits and surfboards! I was SO excited. There were 4 HOT Aussie surf coaches teaching us. Not a bad way to spend a day at all. Yes, girls, they were exactly like you imagined... Blonde, tanned and handsome :)

When I saw the waves I got so scared!!! I have BAD experiences from big waves, I nearly drowned in Bali a few years ago and these waves were twice as big! And I'm NOT a good swimmer.

At first they taught us the technique and we practiced it on the sand. And then finally we hit the waves!! And I did GOOOD. They said that the first time we won't necessarily even get to stand up on the board. But I rode a wave after another all the way to the shore. It was so much fun!!!! I think it helps that I know how to snowboard, although it's quite different, cause in surfing you need more balance and more patience :)

The surf coaches were in the water helping us out (and laughing at us). I didn't really need help, but every time they asked me if I needed a hand, I obviously said YES! :) And afterwards they were like: 'What do you mean you need help, you can surf!' And they just wouldn't believe me that it was my first time on a surfboard!! :) It was so much fun and I could have surfed all day... 

Afterwards we had dinner and went to see the famous Phillip Island Penguin Parade. Every night dozens of penguins from the water come to the beach. I thought it was a bit overrated though. Penguins were tiny and cute, but there were so many tourists, and I was so far away from the parade that I could bearly even tell the difference between a seagull and a penguin. We could see them real close up afterwards though...

When we got back from the Penguin Parade, party was on at the camp. I was knackered but I still went along with the others. We had a drinking contest, we limboed and listened to music and just mingled... Me, Heli and 2 Canadian girls had this sudden idea that we have to go to the city, so we called a taxi to take us to the city. We went to a bar, where we got free drinks from the bartender... But after Lauren, the other Canadian girl, got hit from a bottle in her head, we thought it's time to head back to the camp.

Drinking competition

So again, I didn't sleep much at all. We had to wake up early because we wanted to go and see koalas before going surfing. They said that it's a 20-minute-walk to the koala park. It was a 1-hour-walk in a massive hangover and we didn't even get to hold the koalas.

A funny fact: Those little cuddly koalas are on drugs all the time!!! They sleep 20 hours a day and eat 4 hours. And they're stoned all the time because of the eucalyptus leaves that contain the same doping ingredients as marijuana!! That's why koalas don't do anything but sleep...

On Sunday, by the time we got to the beach, the weather was chilly and windy, and the water felt ice-cold. The sign on the wall of the surf shop said that the waves were 'medium' big. They were MASSIVE. I've never seen as big waves. When I saw them, my first reaction was that there was no way in hell I would go in there, it's a suicide. I did go in the end, but it wasn't as fun as on Saturday. It was really hard to catch a good wave, either because there weren't any or then we just couldn't figure out which ones were good, I dunno. 

People were struggling and giving up. It looked pretty funny actually when people were so concentrated on catching a big wave and then they're wiped out by the waves. But I can assure you that it doesn't feel good!!! The waves were actually so hard that the other Canadian girl, Shanly, broke her board. Also, there were so many of us plus other people, that the waves were crowded and there were collisions all the time. I spent almost the entire time paddling around trying to find a gap where I could ride a wave. And, I got hit by the head from a board, and my legs, and my waist, everywhere.

So it was a bit difficult in the beginning. You're being knocked about by breaking waves, swallowing litres of sea water and tumbling under water struggling to get on the surface... But the amazing sensation you get after catching a wave and riding it all the way to the shore, it keeps pulling you back to get another one! When you go in the water you leave all your worries on the beach and when you ride a wave, the rest of the world just disappears... I'm so hooked!!

'You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity on each moment.'

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

University Life Down Under

University life is a bit different here than in Finland. First of all, you have to remember that the locals pay huge tuition fees whereas in Finland studying is practically free. So the locals are far more motivated, they read a lot of books and take studying really seriously. Whereas me, if it’s a sunny day, I go to the beach and skip the lectures. I’ve got 12 hours of uni a week.

The university is also a ‘bit’ bigger than my home university… It’s the biggest university in Australia with 8 campuses, with 2 of them located abroad. There are around 26,000 students on my campus, Clayton, and 75 buildings!!! Monash Uni is also ranked as one of the top universities in the world.

Clayton campus

Lectures are pretty much the same as in Finland – boring. Tutorials are more like being back in high school. They consist of about 10-20 students and the tutor. They are used to consolidate what we have covered in lectures through discussions and presentations and that sort of stuff. 

Generally speaking, there is more work to do than in Finland. Here people actually read and BUY (!!!!!) the books. And they’re about $100 a book!!! There is about the same amount of work to do, a couple of assignments and an exam per unit.

The circumstances, however, are way better than in Finland. I actually enjoy hanging out on campus. In Finland I always escape when I have the chance and spend the minimum of time at uni. Here on the other hand, there is so much stuff to do and always something going on. Like today, free bbq’s, music and because of the St. Patrick’s Day, people were boozing since noon on the lawn. Good times. 

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Monday, March 9, 2009


Last week in Melbourne was freezing. According to the locals it was exceptionally cold. At night it was only 10-15 degrees, and the wind blew 120m/s… And I didn’t bring much warm clothes from Finland. Our house is like a freezer. It’s actually colder inside than outside. 

Bar crawl night was a disaster, at least for my part. I left home at 6 pm. I got off at the wrong train station and had to go back. I was trying to find Chapel Street, which is a long road full of good shops and bars. I walked for 2,5 hours in the crazy wind wearing only a tiny dress. I asked people for advice but everybody was pointing in different direction. Then I broke the heel in my shoe, so I had to walk without shoes. After that it started pouring with rain. I felt like crying and almost took a taxi home. When I finally got to the bar, I was soaking wet and everybody was already leaving.

On Thursday there was this Full Moon Party at another campus, and it was supposed to be ‘the’ party of the year, so we bought tickets. It was crap. The crowd was really young, and people were passing out in the toilet at 9 pm and they didn’t even sell buckets there!!!! It can’t be a full moon party without buckets!! So we went home early and decided that we've had enough of uni parties.

On Friday it was time to escape the cold and wind of Melbourne and we rented a campervan and headed towards the warmer inland areas, north from Melbourne, that’s called High Country. High country is a dry and hot area, with lots of high forests, hills and wilderness as far as you can see, it was beautiful. It’s the area where the worst bushfires were. On the way we saw burned down houses, signs and forests as far as the eye could reach, it was a devastating. Just dead black tree trunks and black grass. As I don’t have a driver’s licence, I was the navigator. In the end the trip took hours, because all the roads to High Country were still closed because of the bushfires.

We stayed at caravan parks for the nights, where we had proper showers and toilets. It was nice, camping in style, sleeping in the van under the stars (we had a skylight in the van).

On Saturday we went horseback riding. I’ve never been on a horse before, so I was really excited and it was so much fun1 It wasn’t just a nice walk on the beach, at first we practiced trotting and canter for awhile and then we rode around the hills and mountains on the horses. I have to do it again soon!!

After that we went to see rodeo. I’m pretty sure we were the first foreigners that the small village had ever seen. It was fun to see the real Aussie life and people. The guy that took us horseback riding told us a lot about their life, the area and the bushfires. The area had been evacuated, but the guy wanted to stay with his wife to protect the farm. So he had to stay awake for two nights and be alarmed if the fire hits the house. Luckily they were saved, but so many people lost their houses or family members, it’s tragic. And because of the roads being closed, there are no tourists (except us) so the businesses in the area are in trouble.

On Sunday we wanted to find koalas, because we had heard that there should be lots of them because they had escaped the bushfires. There were signs with koalas everywhere but not a trace of a koala. We even went to ask the information centre where we could find koalas. There was this wine festival nearby and we decided to spend the last night there. The weather was perfect, we just chilled by a ‘river’ in the sunshine and went to refill our glasses every now and then. In the evening we (=ME) lit a campfire (we weren’t quite sure if that was allowed but did it anyway) and listened to music and just chilled by the fire. Very relaxing…

Monday morning we returned to the information centre. There was this old lady who asked if we were the same guys that were so obsessed with finding koalas the other day. She told us to go to this sanctuary that was on the way back to Melbourne. In Healesville sanctuary I finally saw koalas, kangaroos, a platypus, dingos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, emus, echidnas, lots of funny looking birds, little crocodiles and big lizards… I also saw wombats, not live ones though, on the side of the roads, upside down… :( But the koalas were the cutest!!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

G'day mates!

Finally settling down! I moved into my own room last night. It’s in a nice 4 bedroom house in Clayton, close to the campus. I live with a Korean girl and her brother and a Polish girl. It’s about 300 euros a month, same as in Finland. House sharing is the way to live here in Melbourne. My next task is to find a job, and not only because I just got a 1,230$ phone bill... Oops!

The previous night I crashed at my friend Philippe’s house cause I had to check out from the hostel. On Sunday I met Philippe’s friend Jimmy, whom I had also met in Dam, and his brother Scott. They took me and Jimmy’s British friend Random Guy around the city. First we went to the bottle shop and bought some red wine with beer and whisky and coke in a can. Here you can buy whisky with almost any mixer in a can, which is great. But red wine with beer I still don’t quite understand… We went to see Scott’s boat in St. Kilda. I thought it was really cold and windy (=below 25). The boys told me I shouldn’t be complaining about cold since I’m from the ‘ice capital’ of the world… I get that a lot over here.

It was Scott’s birthday and Random Guy and I joined their family dinner. After that we went drinking to some guy’s backyard and I saw a possum! It was so cute, a bit like a squirrel. I can’t believe I’ve been to Australia for more than 2 weeks and I haven’t even seen a kangaroo!!!  I tried to pat the little thing but it ran away… Oh yeah, I did see some big jellyfish in St. Kilda. Not cool.

On Monday I had my first lectures. It had been ages since I had slept so well and when Philippe came to wake me up I just mumbled something and turned over. Later Philippe took me to uni. The first lectures were fun. The professor talked with a platypus hand puppet, and every time somebody answered a question right, they got a beer!!! Sometimes even a sixpack!!! He sure knows how to motivate students. Shame I couldn’t do my whole degree here, I would have graduated ages ago! And probably become an alcoholic... 

Today I was gonna skip uni and head to the beach because it was suppose to be a really hot day (nearly 40). Every citizen in Victoria, even me, received a text message from Victoria Police that warned about extreme heat and fires. In the morning I went to the gym at uni. It’s really big, good fitness classes and big swimming pools and even a sauna. But after that there's been this crazy wind that I haven’t gone outside. Tonight we have this Monash Exchange Club Bowling and Bar crawl night so I suppose I’ll start getting ready for that now!

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