The Studying Part of Studying Abroad

The University of Melbourne

At the University of Melbourne, commonly shortened to “Unimelb,” students typically take four classes (five max) each semester and graduate in three years. Most of their coursework is for their respective majors, so students there usually study more advanced material than their American counterparts.

Since I wanted ample time to explore Australia, I planned for a lighter course load at Unimelb. I took four classes: Stochastic Modelling, Database Systems, Food for a Healthy Planet II, and Principles of Management. Stochastic Modelling was the only class that fulfilled my statistics major requirements, but all of my credits transferred back to UC Berkeley. Each class had two or three lectures each week and a tutorial to discuss the material from the previous week, which was similar to the structure of my classes at Cal. There were two major differences at Unimelb: all lectures were webcasted and the finals period lasted for three weeks instead of one.

People studying at the Melbourne School of Design

Studying at Unimelb was an awesome experience. I was relaxed about learning because of my extra free time and webcasted lectures and because the school environment is a lot more laid back than at Berkeley. Thus, I was fully able to enjoy my courses, especially Stochastic Modelling. During gaps between my classes, I discovered many beautiful study spots around campus where I’d work on practice problems.

In between classes and studying, student organizations and the university regularly host food-laden events that are open to all students. Indeed, I gorged myself with hot dogs and sodas for the first two weeks of class, courtesy of Unimelb’s free BBQs (“barbies”). Farmers markets and concerts pop up regularly on campus, along with renowned figures like former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the photographer for Humans of Melbourne University.

My boyfriend and I made it onto Humans of Melbourne University!

My favorite event was the Wonderland Carnival the Melbourne Arts Student Society held on the last week of classes, providing a welcome break from the stress of school. It was so quirky and random and fun! The event’s Facebook page description summed it up nicely:

Feeling cramped from sitting down in the Baillieu all day? Loosen up on the jumping castle and release your stress on our inflatable obstacle course! Or if you’re feeling a bit too run down, petting some ridiculously cute baby animals is the perfect pick-me-up!
If that’s not enough to have you throwing your highlighters in the air, how about procrasti-snacking on some fairy floss, popcorn or a n(ice) cold spider? Or you can enjoy all three while our dedicated artists decorate your face with some skillful face painting.
The inflatable obstacle course!

(To translate the Aussie lingo: Baillieu = main library on Unimelb campus, fairy floss = cotton candy, and spider = ice cream float)

Doing problem sets and cranking out essays wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but I loved my time at Unimelb. My coursework was engaging for the most part and I was able to take interesting classes that Berkeley doesn’t offer. And whenever Markov chains and queueing theory had me at my wit’s end, I could always count on free pizza and bouncy houses for a pick-me-up. Unimelb’s vibrant student life and stimulating academic culture culminated in a lovely study abroad experience.