Travel

Shopping Blues

Hey Milieu Pals,
 
It has been a while since I last posted, but I honestly have not had the time. It has been very hectic over the past few days but I now have a lot to tell!
 
Blues Ball
On Friday Night (25/11/05) we made our way to the Blues Ball. It is a prestigious event that has been held at Monash for over 42 years. It is in honour of great sportsmanship (which is a central theme here in Aus land) and thus awards those who have made an outstanding effort or have shown the most improved performance within the immense sphere of sports entertainment. At the event the most honoured guests are bestowed with either a Half-Blue or Full-Blue. Becoming a member of the Blues opens many doors for the recipients as the award is apparently internationally recognised.
 
The event was quite good even though I must honestly say that i was expecting more. To put it into perspective the Monash South Africa Spring Ball was simply better in many respects; such as venue and food. However that is not to say that the Blues ball was rubbish, it is just that from a university this size I expected more. Granted the food was delicious (a full three course meal) and the entertainment pleasant (a group of Music students expertly played jazz for the evening), it was just the venue. It was rather small and the air conditioning wasn’t working properly… so I was sweating like a pig!
 
For the event I wore my pure white linen suit, a pair of smart light-pink leather shoes, new white lady emblazoned belt, and a pink striped formal shirt. I looked quite smart, even if I do say so myself, and received a few compliments which is always good! LOL!
 
After the ball ended… the group wanted to go out and party!
 
Nightlife
Those of you who know me well will know that i don’t really like clubbing, I prefer to socialise. I’d rather go to a movie, for coffee, a restaurant or other smart and trendy place where individuals can just chill out (not like a pub). Well most of the group had gone out at least once of twice since they had been there, obviously I declined each of the other times because I’m not into the clubbing thing. This time I decided to be a sport and tag a long for the ride.
 
The time: 11:55pm; the place: corner of Blackburn and Normanby roads. This is what Australia is like. Can you believe the time… out on the street, the street of all places, trying to hail a taxi. At home in SA you don’t walk around outside after 6pm, actually, you don’t really leave the house at all if it is by foot, unless you have some kind of death wish! Anyway, we finally got a mini-bus taxi… No, they are not like the SA ones, these actually have real brakes that are not made of cardboard and also proper steering wheels that are not substituted by spanners (I kid you not about the cardboard and spanners my International readers!). So after eerily eyeing out this taxi, we all climbed in and made our way to Melbourne City.
 
It is strange to think that in some parts of the world, people can safely travel by using their public transport systems. Anyway, we arrived at this club, went in… and were disappointed. It wasn’t that great, rather dead and lifeless, but our group of girls had a brilliant time. After sitting around for a while with the guys, I decided to leave… first clubbing isn’t my thing and secondly this club wasn’t a good one so I really didn’t want to be there. If it was more like Vaca-Loca, Shukara, Sudada or Nightshift (Clubs from home) then I would have stayed. Anyway, Bobo accompanied me and we went walking down the streets… picture this now… two South Africans, in the middle of the night walking in the Middle of a busy city. In SA you would last 5 minutes. Well we walked around and came across a place called Lambs, which we had visited the previous day. It was crazy. All of these food places were open at 2am… I couldn’t believe it! I went in, had Baklava (one of my favourite desserts) and then we headed home. We caught another taxi. Granted taking taxi’s to Monash from the city to Monash or Monash to the city isn’t the wisest thing to do in terms of cost, but it’s quick and works; especially if you don’t know how to navigate around the public transport system.
 
We finally got home just a bit after 2am and then hit the sack… Saturday (yesterday) was going to be a long day!
 
Oriental Market… eat your heart out!
Saturday, glorious Saturday. That was the day in which we went to the Victoria Market a place that is similar to the Oriental Market in Sandton/Bedfordview, but it is like 25 times bigger. This market is huge… it even has separate departments for it’s various items and products which can be located through the use of signs or a map. Before the market though, we drove around the city to pick up Mpho’s camera (which she had ‘lost’ in a massive shopping mall, but surprisingly someone handed it in, amazing huh?!) and to the Nike factory store for Bobo to change some clothes.
 
After arriving we were simply amazed at the size of the place. It truly is very big. Lawrence (our tour guide, you guys should know this by now! LOL!) took us through a quick tour of the various departments before letting us loose! The time: 1:01pm; time left before departure: 1 hour & 59 minutes… let the shopping begin!
 
Granted we didn’t have enough time to thoroughly explore the market, yet two hours was enough to actually overview and buy what you needed, even if just barely.
 
I made my way through and bought various items but the thing is, I’m have rather poor ‘haggling/bargaining’ skills. I don’t like doing it, but have done it quite a few times this holiday and it has in fact paid off (get the play on words there, I ‘paid’ less so i got an amount ‘off’ the price! LOL!). The market was cool, but then we decided to go and chill out a bit before Lawrence had to head back home.
 
Self Exploration
At 4pm, it was time to leave. But I didn’t want to leave. The one thing that I have really wanted to do this holiday, has been to go off and explore the city, with my own time, and doing what I want to (some time alone). I therefore politely asked Lawrence if I could remain behind and find my way back home, to which he replied: "Yeah, of course you can. That is actually a brilliant idea, it is your holiday after all". He then proceeded to write down the route I should take to get home from the city itself. He is a really cool guy and has been very good to us.
 
After bidding farewell to the group (no one else wanted to join me… thank goodness) I hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to Melbourne Central (a shopping centre we had visited the day before). On my arrival I walked around the mall to JB Hi-Fi in order to buy a Canon Digital Ixus 750 digital camera for my dad (the update to the one I was currently using on my trip). I got there, haggled a bit and finally bought the camera with various accessories (like a 2 gigabyte flash disk)  for a very good price. After that, I made my way back to Melbourne Central and simply walked around a bit for a while, checking out the mall. Obviously I stopped at an EB games (couldn’t help myself) after which I then bought a New Zealand Natural (milkshake/smoothie).
 
On my way out I saw this very interesting place called Max Brenners. I made my way in only to be greeted buy a Willy Wonka type setting. The restaurant/shop was actually a Chocolatier. It was amazing! Basically this guy, Max Brenner, wants to create a Chocolate culture, similar to a Coffee culture. From what I could see, it was working beautifully and I will therefore definitely be making my way back when I can. I also couldn’t just leave without buying some of the chocolate (which is divine by the way) and proceeded to buy 5 boxes: two small ones (as gifts for Lawrence and Sandra who have been helping us around), two medium boxes (for my cousins that I will hopefully be seeing next week) and a large box for myself. The chocolate is fantastic but very expensive. Each of the chocolate cubes (essentially truffles) are like miniature works of art as each is decorate with an individually particular coloured pattern. Apparently I am the first person to by so much of the chocolates as gifts… and gifts they definitely will be (my poor bank card is feeling rather light right now)!
 
After Max Brenners I walked to Crowns which is this huge mega complex that has basically everything (movies, cinema’s, a theatre, a casino and so on and so forth). After crowns I went to this other mall (the name fails to be recalled) where I visited the Warner Brothers studio shop (so cool… spent up a storm too! LOL!). I then proceeded to Vito Cito where I consumed an Avocado Ritz and a gorgeous fillet steak with blueberry saute and potato fritters. It felt so good to be eating well for a change. Up until that moment we have mainly been eating at fast food places or at the cafeteria. While at the restaurant, which is built on the banks of the Yarra river that overlooks Melbourne City, I called home and some of my cousins.
 
After eating well, it was time to go home.
 
Transport
This was the first time that I was gong to use a form of public transport other than a taxi and it went quite well. I bought a two hour pass, for very cheap, and made my way to the relevant platform at the train station (obviously I had asked several people how to get back to Monash and thus made my travelling decision).
 
While waiting for the train, i was shivering my little ass off as it was freaken cold, but I survived. On the train I overheard a group of three guys talking about Monash. Now this is something I love about this Country. You can talk to anyone and they will respond or help you out. Well, I spoke to them and we all ended up chatting the whole way to our relevant stop which was the station at Huntington. The cool thing is that they were all going to the Clayton Campus and also stayed at the residences, so they accompanied me basically the whole way back home.
 
We ended up being a rather diverse crowd as our group of four consisted of a South African, a German, a Mexican and a Korean. We chatted about a whole lot of stuff, yet I can’t seem to remember actually getting their names. I simply said to them "Are you guys from Monash?" and off we all went. Once we arrived at Huntington I was really surprised to find that the others had actually chanied their bicycles to the posts just outside of the station. If you had to do that in SA, everything but the frame of your bike would be gone after  at least 15 minutes. They had left their bicycles there for the entire day… that is just so cool! After that, because it was so cold, the German guy offered me a coat he had in his rucksack. I mean… hello, I’m a perfect stranger yet they were treating me like they had known me for ages. All of the people in Aus land are like this which is why it is such a nice place to live. Apparently Melbourne is the second safest city in the world with Toronto coming in first.
 
After the 30 minute train ride, and a 40 minute walk (I couldn’t hail a taxi and leave them all behind as they each had bicycles) I finally made it home. I was dead tired and my calves were worn out… not to mention more blisters! LOL!
 
Another Day
Well, I have to be off, they are waiting for me, but I will be sure to write more when I can. Today we are apparently going back to St. Kilda to the Luna Park and then the St. Kilda Market. Later in the day we are supposed to go to The Shakers, which is like a Church youth group. I’m not sure if I want to go though because they say it is very similar to the Rema church and i don’t like how Ray McKauley has commercialised the Lords Name. Well, whatever my decision is, I will be sure to let you all know!
 
I’m missing you all Milieu Pals but remember to keep in Touch!

Food Galore!

Have Milieu Pals,
 
I felt that the previous post was a little lacklustre in details and enthusiasm, partly because I have finally adjusted to Aus time and was rather tired at that time of the evening (11:30pm). So I have decided to post something quick…. oh my gosh… freaky moment… I’m busy eating an apple, and I’ve just tasted something peculiar. Guess what?! The seeds within the apple core have actually started to Germinate (I bet you thought it was a worm or something! LOL!)! That is so weird, I’ve never seen anything like this before… Aus land really is a special place.
 
Well, to get o the point of this post, I want to talk about the food of and in this country.
 
Aus-bese
I hope you understood my play on words within the title between Australia and Obesity, if you didn’t then now you know, if you did then you have taken the time to read through 14 words… time that you’ll never get back again! LOL!
 
Aus land itself really reminds me of America. The people are actually rather large here, not all of them, but there are quite a few, perhaps a few too many. I can understand why they are like this though and that is because of the portions of food one is exposed to when ordering a meal. Food here is rather cheap, especially in Aus terms hence people here eat very well for a minimum amount of cash. I have taken a picture of one dish (I hope to get them all loaded up soon) that was immense in size. To give you an idea, I ordered a Falafel that I couldn’t even hold properly with both hands. I haven’t been pigging out, however hard that may be, and have been trying to eat as healthy as possible. The last thing I want to do is come home looking like a balloon.
 
Sho!
On another note let me also just mention that there are a lot of good looking people here, both male and female. Also, the guys are HUGE! Not in weight but in height! Sometimes I feel really short amongst some of the people and I come in at about 1.95 centimetres (6 foot 4 inches).
 
They also seem to have an uncanny ability to dress well. That may be because we are in Melbourne, which is something of a fashion capital. The people also don’t seem to really care about what others think of them. They dress the way they want to and that’s that! The different sub-cultures are rather apparent within the Aus society, as by just walking down the street you can tell who is a ‘Koo Girl’ (upper class female individual), a rocker, a Goth, a fashion expert, a sports fanatic and so on and so forth.
 
In Aus land there are tons of Brands that I have never even heard of before but the thing is that a lot of the stuff just seems to be renamed to suit the Aus market. For example: Burger King here is called Hungry Jack.
 
Be back soon
I will hopefully be able to see my cousins next week but trying to change my tickets has been a real schlep. Well I’ve got to get going, have the Future Leaders program again this morning, then I think we are going shopping and this evening we have been invited to attend the Blues Ball, which is a sports awards dinner.
 
Keep checking back for more details Milieu Pals… as you make up a large portion of keeping my sanity intact and in check (the cocojins are GMT-ing me quite often)!
 
 

Campus Life

Hey Milieu Pals,
 
I’ve been speaking about the different campuses that Monash has around Aus land and have previously stated that I really like Caufield. Well, I may have changed my mind about that.
 
Clayton Baby!
The Clayton campus is by far the biggest campus of them all. It is also the oldest and thus does not seem very appealing at first glance. However, despite its visiual appearance this campus is by far the best when it comes to facilities, especially for sports and exercise.
 
Today we ended up touring the Clayton Campus, visiting all of the departments etc. Now this campus is massive, it is seriously big. Clayton is home to 26 000 students, and that number does not include staff. They have tried to give the campus a very open and natural feel which is often apparent through the diverse quantity if tree’s and the bounds of open spaces between the different faculties. Apparently it is so big, that staff and members from the Engineering Faculty, for example, never actually meet staff or students from the Medical Faculty.
 
The first thing we did was have a meeting with various officials and Monash Alumni. Now, since I am the only Caucasian person within our total group of 12 members, it was only a matter of time before someone asked that inevitable question: "How can you be part of the group from South Africa, which is in Africa? I mean, you are white!". This very nice guy, Thierry, was the one who asked the question. He was semi-joking, but I could tell he was a little uncertain as he then proceeded to ask about where I ‘really’ came from and what languages I speak (he had a strange fixation about the Afrikaans language). Needless to say, all worked out well and he really was very pleasant and down to earth.
 
The campus is also slowly undergoing changes that will bring it to the visual standard of its sister campus, Caufield. That can only mean good things for the students of Monash University.
 
The only problem with the campus is how big it is. For example: to get to the Student centre from Howitt Hall (my dormitory block) takes me approximately 15 minutes and that is walking at a very fast speed. Trust me, I really was moving because when i arrived, my calves were engorged with blood and ready to go into spasms. I now know why the Aussies have such good well built legs, it is because they like to walk all the time and at Clayton, they are forced to walk.
 
We also went to the STRIP (Science, Technology, Research & Information Precinct) which is this massive building which houses many Australian companies which use prospective students for research and thus provide job opportunities. One example is whereby Monash itself has created a company which specialises in nano-technology and they are currently in the process of developing intelligent clothes that automatically clean themselves. It truly is very cool!
 
After our very lengthy tour, it was time to visit the PVC (Pro Vice Chancellor) Professor Richard Larkin. The meeting went smoothly with each of us giving our feedback of Monash South Africa and Monash Australia . Once done with the tea and cakes, demolished by our ravenous stomachs, we headed off to Williams Town.
 
William Who?
Williams town is a very small and cool place. It is similar to a place called Saint Kilder’s. Unfortunately I don’t know exactly where these places are, so i hope names will suffice.
 
We ended up driving around the suburbs again, in particular through Chapel Street and Oakland street. They are awesome little place, which remind me a lot of Italy, because the streets are packed with little boutiques, confectionaries and so on and so forth.
 
Touring Clayton and visiting the PVC took up most of our time so we only drove through those aforementioned streets. After lengthy bouts of driving we made it to a famous pizza parlor (can’t remember the name… to tired to think properly) where we feasted the day away (well night, but the sun takes forever to go down).
 
Overall we all had a very good day, especially considering all of the freebies that we keep getting from everyone all of the time! LOL!
 
 
Tomorrow we have the future leaders program again and then we are apparently going shopping… yet again… So keep checking back as I will be sure to update my blog  soon.
 
(P.S.: The Xbox 360 was launched on Tuesday in America and will launch next week Friday in the UK… I so hope I get one… LOL!)

Off the Wall!

Hey Milieu Pals,
 
Today I finally had my first ‘off’ day… a day in which I am able to do whatever it is I want with my own time. So what did I do I hear you ask? Simple really… I shopped! LOL! Yeah I know, the Hans who never likes shopping went to shop. Well, it is different when one shops for themselves… because that is when it is fun! LOL! 
 
But before I talk about today, let me about yesterday! LOL!
 
Caufield
Monash in Aus land is huge, something I have reiterated time and time again. We were thus taken to another campus of the Monash brand, known as Caulfield.
 
The Caulfield campus is simply amazing. It has almost all of the facilities as that of the Clayton campus yet it truly resembles the Melbourne city and vibe. Some parts of the Campus look like works of art and exude a sense of retro-chic individualism. This is the university I would like to study at. Granted each of the campuses have their strengths and weaknesses, but I will take style over open spaces any day!
 
The student services office at Caulfield is truly amazing and is apparently considered to be at the forefront of student needs. Other competitor university’s have actually decided to adopt some of Caufields methods of dealing with students. For example: the student services offices look more like something out of a space age grocery store with each ‘teller’ equipped with all the necessary information and equipment needed to appease basically all o a students needs. You have to experience it to truly understand what I mean.
 
Basically Caufield is a modernised version of the Clayton campus even though the Clayton campus will eventually reach the level of modernism exhibited by the Caufield campus.
 
Most of the day was essentially spent on exploring the Caufield Campus.
 
I have good news though. I, along with Bobo, Mpho and Heather, were chosen to be interviewed by Monah Reporters for Aussie Newspapers and International Newspapers. How cool is that?! We even had our pictures taken separately from the rest of the group. We felt like celebrities… by the way, I now charge for my signature! LOL! When I get the photo’s or the newspaper clippings, I’ll be sure to post it for all you Milieu Pals to see!
 
Okay, now back to what happened today… LOL!
 
The French Man
I’m not sure if I mentioned Pierro, but I’m going to do it now anyway. Pierro is Aunty Mano’s old boyfriend from when she used to be on the ‘Island’. To give you an idea of how long ago that was just note that my mom and her siblings left Mauritius over 35 years ago. My aunt met up with him again when she went to visit her two daughters, here in Aus land, about a year ago. So they have been in contact with one another again since that time. Well, my aunt contacted him, who contacted my mom, who contacted him again, who tried contacted me, who I then contacted (if you don’t get that, don’t worry, just know that it was quite a mission at the time). After we finally made contact we agreed that he should pick me up from Monash at 10am Wednesday Morning.
 
At first I hadn’t heard from him, so I assumed that he may be busy. I then phoned to confirm the details and he told me that the number I had given him (got an Aus number now) didn’t work. Now Optus, the mobile network provider, sends you your number via sms once you’ve registered. In my jet-lagged state, I had been giving the number to people that the message came from, not the number within the message. Regardless I finally sorted out the error and plans were finalised.
 
He picked me up with his wife and we made our way to Chadstone Mall. The name of the mall is pronounced as follows: Chad-St-UH-n. They seem to ignore the ‘E’ at the end of the word Stone… oh well, only in Aus land. At least it is better than MAC (Mall at Carnival… yes that is the name of a shopping centre near Carnival city, a Casino, in Brakpan… I swear… only in Brakpan!).
 
Anyway we spent the whole day in Chadstone, which is absolutely massive. It is probably about the same size as Gateway, a massive shopping centre in Durban that is 1km long, or perhaps a little smaller. I basically went crazy and bought a whole lot of goods. All I’m worried about now, is if I will get penalised for going over my allowed weight for when i have to fly home!
 
Anyway, my day spent with Pierro and his wife (I can’t believe I forgot her name) was absolutely awesome. They are such wonderful people and remind me of home, very warm and caring. I really had a good time with them and would love to go out with them again. I hope I can soon assuming my timetable will allow it.
 
Well Milieu Pals, it is time for me to go. I’m not really feeling very well at the moment, I have a massive headache and still feel like I’m rocking on a ship. I hope to get this motion sickness sorted soon. remember to e-mail, sms and leave comments when you can, don’t be shy now! LOL!
 
Remember to check back soon!
 
(P.S.: I have sent my cousin my photo’s from the trip, if he gets them he will update my blog with them!)

The Future is Bright!

Hey Milieu Pals,
 
I’m so glad that most of you are reading my blog. It makes me so happy to see your comments, read your replies via e-mail or simply to hear from you via sms. It’s great to have that constant feedback from home, makes me feel a little less home sick! LOL!
 
Aus land has been great so far, so let me tell you what is new:
 
Future Leaders
We have finally started the future leaders program, one of the main reasons we have come to Aus land. It is quite a prestigious program so we are very privileged to be a part of it. In fact, we are actually the international pioneers of the Future Leadership program. What I mean is that we are the first non-aussie people to be a part of it. If you live in Aus land and are a student, you can apply to do it but they only accept 200 people per year at a rate of $250 AUS (aka R1250). So as you can hear, we really are very lucky.
 
The workshop took place at the Monyx offices, another part of the huge Monash ‘world’. Monash is huge in Aus land. It really is a very prestigious university. For example they actually have an entire suburb, a highway and one of Melbourne’s largest industrial districts, all under the Monash name. It is actually incredible. Anyway, Monyx is basically in charge of the Monash student associations, various funds and the overall ‘Campus Life’ of the student. It is essentially owned by both the student body and Monash itself with a 50/50 share between the two, it is truly very cool.
 
The offices are essentially a converted warehouse but it has been done in such a post-modern way that it is simply stunning to look at. Once again, very retro-modern but oh so cool!
 
The leadership program is all about discovering your innate talents, how to deal with others, how to be effective as a leader and so on and so forth. Apparently no two workshops are the same as each individual has different expectations and achievements. So far it has been quite cool so I am actually looking forward to the rest of the workshops which have been spread over a period of 4 days (even though it would have normally taken only 2 days).
 
Facilities Galore
I swear, this place gets better and better the longer we stay. At first I was rather disappointed with Monash Clayton because it was very old and didn’t seem too great. However, that only seems to be exclusive to the residence’s.
 
The students here basically have everything. We finally went to the campus centre… Oh my gosh… it was like a mini-mall. It has basically everything that a student could need: bookshops, various restaurants to cater for all tastes, clothes shops, movies, theatres, banks and so on and so forth.
 
There was even one book shop that was having a sale, and a ridiculous one at that, whereby I was able to pick up the History of Monash for only $1 Aus (R5). Lawrence Cupido (our tour guide and Monash Alumni) actually pointed out to me that he had bought the same book for $40 Aus at a bookstore outside of the Monash campus. He then gave me $1 Aus to buy it stating "It’s on me bud!"… how cools is that! LOL!
 
After touring the amazing student centre we were taken to the Monash Sporting facilities… Oh my word… think about it like this: 40 tennis courts, 2 Olympic sized swimming pools, 3 rugby fields, 3 soccer fields, 20 basketball courts, a massage parlor, spa, fully equipped gym (about as big as my dads gym and offers everything from Tae-Bo to Yoga) and so on and so forth. Seriously, If i came to this campus, I’d be ‘buff’ as I’d really want to work out, it really is that cool and exudes that kind of energy.
 
Factory Outlets
Yeah, this was something I really was looking forward to! lawrence took us to this factory shopping place… I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was simply huge! I swear, that place could have fitted a 747 boeing! In this giant hanger were hundreds of shops with various merchandise… and so the shopping began. Obviously most of the shops dealt with Womens clothing, but there was enough for guys too. The best shop though, was visiting the Electronic Boutique of Gaming… yes… EB games! It was so awesome! I walked in and my eyes lit up like a ‘hobo’ on Christmas who is given a new bottle of Whisky! I went in, zoomed around for a while and then made several purchases! The prices were pretty good, but if you do a conversion (and this is for practically anything in Aus) from Aus dollars to SA Rands, things tend to be similarly priced.
 
Anyway, we all had a good time with me purchasing the most and ‘conveniently’ forgetting our meeting time as we were let loose to shop. They waited for over 45min for me to return from my shopping spree, but Lawrence was totally cool about it! LOL!
 
Whats next?
It is now early morning (8:45am), got up at 6am. I have already eaten and showered, called home… the usual thing. I now have to quickly head up to my room to get my cell phone and then we are off again for the second installment of the Leadership Programme, and hopefully, more shopping! LOL!
 
I miss you all so much (especially my mom and dad) and look forward to coming back. I will be going into the city tomorrow to try and see what I can do with my ticket, as I may be able to stay for a short while. If that doesn’t work out, then I have another back up plan to see Dominique and Michelle, but more about that later!
 
So I hope you are all well Milieu Pals and remember to leave comments, send me e-mail and sms me if you can (I have a new aus number that I’ll sms you on)! Until the next post!