I have now been in Australia living in the Murdoch University Village (housing set aside for first year and international students) for a full two nights. It has not been an easy transition at all, and I definitely had to practice my own advice regarding traveling to foreign land.
After a layover from Nadi to Sydney, we landed in Perth around 7 p.m. Luckily, almost all of us received our bags right away. One thing I have noticed about Fiji and Australia is that luggage comes immediately (take note America!). Our drivers picked us up after Courtney filed a lost baggage claim and we were on our way to Murdoch University.
Upon arrival, we lugged our bags to reception. I feel weird about calling the administration building “reception,” because when I say that word I think of a hotel. Anyway, we were given our rooms and it turned out that all of us who signed up for a standard double room besides one person was paired together and all our flats (apartments) were in fairly close proximity.
The good news ended there. Some of us ordered linen that was supposed to be delivered to our rooms upon arrival, but we had none. I was going to tough it out and just use the blanket I brought, but some of the other girls’ mattresses were terribly stained and quite unappetizing to sleep on. So, we found the one RA helping people move in and he actually gave us a bigger linen box than we had ordered. Score! With that, he said, “Good luck,” and probably tried to hide from us as well as he could.
Some people were quite dissatisfied with the apartments; however, I thought they were great. Each one has a kitchen with a table and chairs, a fridge, stove, oven and a microwave, plus a lounge area with two comfortable couches and a table. Plus, each flat has a small porch and two bathrooms.
I met my one flat mate the first night who had been there for a week and I eventually met the other two flat mates the next day. The first one is from Hong Kong and the other two are from Asia as well. Apparently, this is the first year that international students outnumber domestic students, and Asian student are the largest demographic. I was slightly bummed that I was not rooming with any Australians, but my flat mates seemed nice and easy going.
As ironic as it is, I was paired with the other girl in my program from New Jersey. Another student said it is because they had to keep the Jersey girls contained. Anyway, we are both pretty easy going and I am glad we got paired together.
The rest of the night, the group met in one of the flats. Some people were quite unhappy, as we had no food and no toilet paper. Because AIFS scheduled our flights so late, we missed the barbeque that happened earlier and we had no idea how to get to the store. Also, we had to pay for Wi-fi, and apparently another student was told by AIFS that is was free. However, the rest of us were already under the impression Wi-Fi had to be purchased. When the boys tried connecting to the Wi-Fi, they realized the program did not take American cell phone numbers. Those of us who could not take SIM cards freaked out, because we thought we would have to go buy an expensive smart phone and plan.
The first night was less than we had hoped. We had no food, no toilet paper, no Wi-Fi, no one to talk to for help because reception closed and we had no idea where orientation was the next day. Sounds homey! I knew things would eventually work out somehow, so I just relaxed and waited for more information.