Term Abroad: What’s it like at Monash?
So after another small period of neglect towards my blog, I have finally managed to settle down long enough to put together some words about how I am getting on here in Melbourne. It is the 2nd May, I have been here just over a month and I have to say I am having the time of my life! But to avoid me writing a complete dissertation’s worth of rambling, for today I am just going to focus on Monash University and what’s is like to work here.
Monash University is twinned with Warwick, and I thought this was just so we could get a pretty sweet inter-hemisphere exchange programme going on, however they are in fact very very similar. Monash is a campus university, just like Warwick, however it does have multiple campuses spread throughout Melbourne and also in other countries. The campus I am on is out of the city in a suburb called Clayton and is probably counted as the ‘main’ campus. It has big concrete monstrosities interspersed with obviously far newer buildings (like the Green Chemical Futures building that I am working in) all spread around the campus, this being very reminiscent of Warwick except here they are a bit more spaced out (which makes sense as everything in Australia is spaced out). The other striking similarity to my lovely Coventry home is the sculptures. Turns out having an array of strange art pieces dotted around the campus is not unique to us, as whilst we have our Koan, Monash has its own giant ball made out of cones right outside my building:
Societies and sports are done very differently here though. Whilst at Warwick, joining a club is seen as one of the most common ways of expanding your social circle, here the clubs aren’t quite so inclusive. Sports teams are designed for the elite and other clubs (of which there aren’t many) tend to only throw events specific to their club and organising chilled socials to the pub is more unusual. Circling doesn’t exist ( :'( ) but I am happy to say that they do have a Wednesday night piss-up at an Irish bar which is very Pop-esque, complete with Hot 40 tunes including Mr Brightside!
In Australia, it is uncommon for students to move away from home to come to University. As there are so few major cities in the whole country, those leaving school will tend to choose their favourite out of the universities close to them. Thus, whilst there is student accommodation on campus, the campus is quite dead outside of working hours as most students commute on weekdays from their homes in the other suburbs. There are not really any options for nightlife on campus, and the strict smoking and drinking bans mean that students tend to use it as a base for working only. Whilst this is a shame, and definitely something I appreciate at Warwick, having such easy access to a major city is very novel and still very exciting to a West Country girl! I will talk more about Melbourne and why it is consistently ranked the ‘most liveable city in the world’ in a separate blog post.
The work I am doing here in the Green Chemical Futures Building (a part of the Chemistry Department) is great. My research group (The MacFarlane Group) have been so welcoming and friendly and have given me a cool little project to do with extracting collagen from egg shell membranes (unfortunately this does mean I have to spend a considerable amount of time picking the membranes out of the remnants from yesterdays omelettes!). I could not reccommend working for them more, particularly if you are also considering coming to Monash for a Term in your third year it is definitely worth applying to Doug as a supervisor. The working atmosphere is very relaxed and they allow you to work at your own pace in a way that is so different for UG labs at Warwick, and is probably why so many people don’t enjoy them! Not to mention the work in this group is literally trying to save the planet through finding sustainable ways to, for example, power batteries and harvest ammonia; that’s why we all chose chemistry right? At least it was definitely on the majority of personal statements!
Hope Term 3 isn’t being too hard on you- remember to eat, drink water and sleep!
Love Fi x