UniMelb - Old ArtsGetting back into the groove of being a student isn’t something I think is going to be hard. It’s really the anticipation of returning to a mode of life you left behind you some time ago that’s the killer. 

After a nice, quiet weekend by myself while The Roommate was visiting family in Gold Coast, I only had a few more orientation things to attend, only one of which I actually had any interest in. Tuesday night they had an orientation/reception for the students of the School of Government. The school itself is relatively new…it only became its own entity separate from the School of Arts in the past year or so, which has allowed it to expand quite a bit. They even have their own building.

The orientation started with an optional tour of the graduate facilities for all of the SoG students, which met at the new SoG building. Interestingly enough, the tours started there but outside of using the front entrance for a meeting place, they didn’t even show us that building. “Yeah, you’re not really going to be in here at all. Some of the faculty have offices here, but you’re definitely going to have all your classes in Old Arts.” For photos of the Old Arts building, see my last post. Instead, we got to wander around campus with one of the current Student Ambassadors, who is approaching his second year in my program, international relations. We got to chat about some really practical things relating to academics and I got to meet a few other students, some that are actually in my program. Mostly I ended up talking with The Boy from Portland and it was nice to be able to talk to an American about transitioning to Melbourne. The Boy from Portland had a slightly easier go of it because he’s half Australian and is currently living with family.

The actual information session wasn’t overly informative, but it was nice to hear from a few of the different people that I’ll be interacting with over the next two years. After the information session ended we got to the exciting part with the food. Yum.

The reception was nice and there was a pretty good turn out for it. The SoG has six different graduate programs, so there were people there from all of those. I ran into some people I had met the week before and I got to meet a few interesting people.

When you get to the graduate level, you start meeting this really, wonderfully strange people. Around here they’re mostly these hipster-y kind of guys that I have a really hard time taking seriously because they all dress like Where’s Waldo and want to have really philosophical conversations about the time they spent backpacking in South America. Many of the others are international students from Asian nations (mostly), who have come for a variety of reasons, but mostly so they can get involved in government back home and try to change things.

I did make friends with one girl in particular, The Shy Girl from Perth. We bonded over the awkwardness of these kinds of events and about what we thought classes might be like. We eventually headed out because it was getting late (oh dear, 7pm!). We observed on our way out that there was some sort of military awards ceremony (??) going on outside on the lawn. We only discovered this as we were walking straight by it, since it was apparently happening in the dark. I don’t know what that was about, but I hoped they enjoyed our impromptu conversation about Doctor Who as we walked by, because we didn’t notice they were there at first.

I didn’t do all that much for the rest of the week. I decided not to go to any of the other orientation sessions on Wednesday or Thursday because they seemed mostly geared for undergraduate students. My birthday was on Wednesday (the big 26), and I didn’t do anything. I stayed in all day and then ordered/ate an obscene amount of pizza. Friday morning I met one of the community coordinators from the church I’ve started attending for a coffee, which was nice. It was a bit warmer and it was actually sunny that day, so I elected to walk there and back.

By the time that I got home, I decided to check the mail. I had finally ordered a new camera (birthday present from the parental units), and apparently they had tried to deliver it five minutes after I left that morning. Since they can’t just leave the package sitting outside my apartment building in the city, I had to walk all the way back to where I had just been (about 15 minutes each way) to go to the nearest post office to pick it up. Again, at least it was a nice day, so I got my exercise in.

After the post office I walked straight to campus, since I knew that they were having a big campus programs fair and I wanted to check it out (get free stuff!). I made it all the way to the back of Union House to where it was being held and I pretty much immediately turned around and left because it was completely swarmed with undergraduate students. So. Many. Kids. Agh!

There were so many students there, nearly all of whom were Asian – I’m learning that this is a normal thing for Australian universities because they’re so close to Asia, which is cool – that I couldn’t even see what any of the booths were for and I could barely move around. I strongly dislike large crowds like that, so I decided to leave and go to the bookstore (The Co-Op) to see if they had anything I needed to pick up. Pretty much all of my course materials are online through the Learning Management System (LMS), so I don’t really need to buy anything. I will be heading back there today before my first class to see if they have the reader for my international history class – faculty can ask the bookstore to print out and bind all those online readings for purchase. If they have it, it will be cheaper for me to buy it there than print everything out myself.

I wound up not buying anything, mostly because I didn’t actually need anything, but also because everything there was really overpriced. I can get all my school stuff at OfficeWorks (Australian Staples) or at BigW (Australian K-Mart…thought they apparently have K-Marts somewhere too. I don’t know what those are like) for cheap(er) in the city.

After the bookstore I decided it would be a good time to stop by the library, which is right next to the Co-Op. I didn’t really need anything at the library, but they had a special exhibit going on that I needed to check out. I actually thought it was kind of funny because the way they advertised it was basically, “Oh hey! Yeah. We have a Gutenberg Bible, so come check it out and stuff.” Yes. You read that correctly:




It has always been a goal of mine to see a Gutenberg Bible in person. Basically, since I’ve been able to read grownup books I have wanted to see a Gutenberg Bible. So, once I realized that they had one at the library and I could go and see it, obviously this had to happen. It was a part of my Printing Press Destiny. The photo above is from the library site, since we weren’t allowed to photograph its awesomeness.

It was just off in this tiny exhibit room off the main floor, hanging out in a glass case and open to the book of Judges like it’s no big deal. They had  a pretty good amount of security on the thing, but there were only five or so other people in there with me when I went to see it. I definitely did not understand that. I know that the exhibit had been running for a bit and was nearly over, but seriously. Gutenberg Bible. Hello?! Everyone should be there, all the time.

In any case, it was on loan from the University of Manchester. This is only the second time in history that a Gutenberg Bible has been to Australia (last time in 2001 with the same Bible). There are only 48 copies of the thing left and the nearest standing exhibit of one is all the way in Tokyo. Its printing marked the innovation of the movable type printing press, which only changed the world forever. I cannot begin to describe my nerdy excitement.

After that I went home. I ate some more leftover birthday pizza and watched movies on movie box. The Roommate actually got home from work at a reasonable hour because her parents & sister were coming to visit. The next few posts will be about those adventures, because they’re going to be staying with us for the next two weeks. All I’ll say for now is that after about ten minutes, The Roommate’s very large Indonesian family had already adopted me as their new American daughter.

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