Field Work, Festivals and (Soccer) Finals

I am now halfway through my time in Australia. It’s a weird thing to realize and even stranger to watch other people realize. I’ve gotten to the point where everyone is starting to feel the rush to fit everything in and it’s making time fly. I’ve only exacerbated the issue by finding more and more ways to get involved. This post is going to cover my favorite extracurriculars from the past couple of weeks.

A couple Tuesdays back I went on a day trip to help a graduate student collect data for his research. We drove around the Mornington Peninsula I got to see a more of the area as we went between and into field sites. I learned a lot by getting to talk to someone in graduate school at the University of Melbourne. And while I didn’t get to see any new wildlife, it was fun to hear all his stories about the animals he’s worked with.

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The fondue stall at the Wine and Cheese Festival

Last weekend I volunteered at a wine and cheese festival in the city. I worked for 10 hours and in exchange I got lunch, a couple bottles of wines, a festival shirt and free tastings. The volunteering itself was fairly dull (I just handed out cups for most of the day). I did get to meet a lot of interesting people though: from security guards to college students to professionals in the wine industry. I got tips on places to visit, learned more about Australia and just generally had a good time talking to some new people. The festival was a small one that attracted about 1,400 people, but the vendors were excellent. I sampled fudge, cider, beer and, of course, wine. A common festival food in Melbourne seems to be fondue and I’ve been eager to try it. Turns out it’s melted cheese over potatoes and herbs – not what I was expecting, but delicious all the same. I thought going behind the scenes at a festival might change how I saw them, but it didn’t feel any different than a Theta Formal or any other function I’ve put on – it was just on a larger scale. It was interesting to see event planning done in the real world though.

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The UC soccer team!

The highlight of this week has by far been the intercollegiate soccer tournament. Just like intramural sports at Whitman, the residential colleges around Uni Melb run sport competitions every year. The tournaments run for a couple of weeks with knockouts starting two games in. University College (UC) has a history of being good at soccer and this year was no different. The team made it to finals on Friday at 8 am. Despite the early hour, most of the residents and administration turned up to support the team. People walked through the corridors with speakers blaring to wake people up and face painting started at 7:15 in the common room. The school mascot costume was worn and by the whistle at 8 there were dozens of people on the sidelines for both teams. The enthusiasm and support was unreal. Even I got more invested than I ever have been in a sporting event. Even though we lost I had a blast scream and chanting on the sidelines with my fellow UCers.

All of these activities have made life in Australia feel more meaningful. I’m finding an actual life here and that thought is as scary as it is cool. To add to that I’m now the Assistant Costume Director for the Intercollegiate musical and have a Tasmania trip planned for this weekend. With time flying by it’s harder and harder to stop and write about my experience, but I learn most about myself when I take the time to write these. So look out for another blog post soon.

Over and Out,

Miranda

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