Down Under in Melbourne

A practical semester on the far side of the world: DH Student Marius reports

“G’day mate! How are ya?” Those were the fi rst words I heard in Australia. I had just gotten off the plane, arriving at the airport to start a semester abroad on literally the far side of the world. As one of the fi rst visitors from Glatten, from January to early April of this year, I was given the opportunity to enjoy summer in Melbourne at our new subsidiary abroad.

While the mercury in Glatten just kept falling, some days the temperature here climbed to 40° C. The Millsom subsidiary is located in Bayswater, a quiet quarter about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from downtown Melbourne. The capital of the Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne consists of multiple municipalities and sprawls over an area about ten times that of Berlin.

On the weekend there's always something going on, whether it's athletic events, festivals or national holidays. On the one hand, Melbourne has a large city center with universities, shopping streets and innumerable bars. On the other, the city is also very close to nature, with beaches and a rich fl ora and fauna.

My apartment was about fi ve minutes away from work in the neighboring town. My drive to work was a stark contrast to the empty streets in Germany: six-lane streets, a traffi c light every 200 meters (650 feet), and tons of traffi c, especially during rush hour. And driving on the left side of the road didn't help either. Fortunately I soon acclimatized to the local peculiarities. The work at Millsom was varied and often enjoyable as well, so it never got boring. From minor tasks to larger projects in manufacturing and in the offi ce, I had plenty to do during my practical semester.

And outside of working hours, I enjoyed a variety of recreational activities. During the week I regularly attended soccer practice in the nearby park. This helped me connect with Australians of my own age, and in exchange I contributed my soccer skills in the games. During the week I undertook other athletic excursions, too, such as climbing Mount Dandenong. On the weekends, I regularly went downtown or on short trips. So I got to see the round of sixteen of the Australian Open, the Australian Grand Prix, and – a must-see for any tourist in Australia – an Aussie rules football match. I also got the opportunity to drive on the famous Great Ocean Road.

One thing I noticed about the Australians early in my stay is that they're very open and up for anything fun. I had no trouble traveling on the weekend, because I was constantly meeting Australians my age, whether downtown or in one of the innumerable rooftop bars.