Sophia Akhtar, about her experience in Monash 2017/18
'Monash University offers a diversified, fun, and engaging student experience for exchange students. At Monash, you have access to a wider range of modules which can sometimes stray away from the classical world. In my first semester, my favourite modules ranged from ‘Eros and the Body: sexuality and body politics in the classical world’ (which renewed my love for classical literature!) to ‘Renaissance Europe,’ which was my first opportunity to study the Renaissance. In my second semester, the fascinating ‘Medieval Worlds: from Vikings to the Silk Road’ module gave me the opportunity to study the Middle Ages and further my research interests of war and power, which I also did in ‘Nations at War: revolution and empire’ and ‘Egypt’s Golden Age.’ Despite these modules straying away from the classical world, exploring (for example) civil conflict in the 19th century spurred me on to further research civil conflict in the Roman Empire. I will be exploring this further in my dissertation this year.
I lived in halls for both semesters. Like Warwick, Monash provides a wide variety of campus accommodation for students, and by changing for my second semester, I got to experience halls at varying stages of the social spectrum. Nevertheless, I had so much fun in halls and made so many friends – having 20 people live on your floor makes for one bustling family! However, rent will be more expensive in halls, so make sure you budget accordingly – but I was glad to, as I had the best halls experience at Monash.
Melbourne has also become one of my favourite cities! Its food, social scene, overall variety and sheer scale make it a wonderful city to study in. You’re never too far from a stellar Greek souvlaki, a curry, or a plethora of quirky, insta-worthy bars and cafes. Let’s just say you’ll never run out of great coffee and smashed avocado on toast. The year abroad also gave me many opportunities to travel, with my trips around Southeast Asia, Japan, and Tasmania being my stunning highlights. I have returned to Warwick ready to provide a refreshed perspective on my degree and passion for the classical world.
Monash’s lengthy semester, habitual holidays and 3-month summer break provides many opportunities to travel. Even better, the wide cohort of exchange students will give you a lot of choices for potential travel buddies! Throughout my year in Melbourne, I covered a decent amount of Australia and southeast Asia. My Aussie destinations included a lot of Victoria (Melbourne’s state), Sydney, and Tasmania. All this travelling made me realise that Australia is overflowing with stunning natural landscapes and beaches. If you’ve ever wanted to take epic road trips with friends and never got around to it, now is your time to do so! In the lengthy summer break, I decided to embark on a backpacking trip around southeast Asia and Japan – bringing me some of my favourite memories from that summer!
The lessons and experiences my year abroad has given me are indispensable. Studying abroad has made me self-assured and confident enough to tackle final year. I am now returning to Warwick ready to provide a refreshed perspective on my degree and passion for the classical world!'
Lia Bhimani, fourth year UG student, back from Monash 2016/17
'Studying at Monash was a valuable learning experience because of the diversity within the modules you could choose. The first semester I chose two Classics ones: Golden Age of Athens (which incorporated a lot of toga wearing!), and Understanding Ancient Cultures. I also chose an Anthropology one, an area I had never looked into before which I enjoyed so much I continued into the second semester. I decided to take a module in Global Commodities incorporating material from Geography and Economics and my ultimate favourite module, Ethics of Global Conflict, expanded my horizons to relevant political issues that we face today. The campus is similar to Warwick in the sense that there are many (more) food and drink outlets, and it is common to bump into your course friends or familiar faces everywhere you go!'
The State Library of Victoria is a beautiful building to study in when it came to essay deadlines and gave me a true ‘Melbourne university student’ experience when I was frantically cramming for my end of semester exams- interspersed between many soy flat white coffee breaks of course! Art, culture and music lover? Brunswick Street with its exceptional live gig scene and the frequent pop-up Japanese and Greek food festivals in Federation Square that connected the entire city together every weekend are the best way to immerse yourself in Melbournian culture. Or if you’re more of a foodie and appreciate a delicious cocktail or 12 like myself, you will fall in love with the secretive, hidden, and THEMED bar scene that pervades the crevices of the city and suburbs! The seasonal difference was a little difficult to grasp at first, as flying out to Melbourne mid-July to be exposed to rainy weather, mulled wine and winter markets took a bit of getting used to! However, the four month Monash summer break from November to March was an incredible opportunity to experience a warm festive season (iced gingerbread Christmas frappe anyone?!) as well as allowing me to travel through much of Australia and South East Asia – I certainly never thought I would be indulging in authentic Thai green curry and ‘Banh Pho Chay’ whilst my fellow Classics friends at Warwick were conjugating Latin verbs!
Melbourne is the best city in the whole wide world and without a doubt I truly see myself going back and living there again! 94 people from Warwick came to Monash, which was a great security blanket initially but I decided to branch out after the first few weeks and take advantage of the exceptionally friendly and hospitable Australians. I made friends from all over Australia from my university classes who not only opened their homes to me when I was travelling the Great Ocean Road, Sydney and the East Coast of Australia, but opened my eyes to the sensational coffee and brunch culture (the Lindt Cafe hot chocolate and delicious ‘smashed avo’ on sourdough will forever have a place in my heart!). The city is set out in a grid system which makes it really easy to navigate and trams are free in the city centre. I lived in a suburb called South Yarra, which is famed for its incredible brunch and shopping culture, not to mention two train stops away from the inner city and only a twenty minute train journey and bus ride to university. I decided to live out of halls in the second semester, which was undoubtedly the best decision I made- life is so different when you’re living out, it feels like a veritable experience of living like a local.
All in all, Monash University was truly an outstanding academic experience enabling me to tackle fourth year feeling much more focused after a year of being culturally enriched as a Melbournian. Melbourne has been rated ‘the world’s most liveable city’ and rightly so! This year abroad was much more than just that, it was a life abroad experience that will continue to stay with me forever.