After 3,5 months in Pinnaroo it was time to pack my bag and continue on. It was a short notice decision and a bit of a dramatic exit. Although I made great friends and wasn’t fully prepared to move on, I knew I needed to abruptly leave (it’s a long story). My intuition guided me on to a 11 hour bus ride to Melbourne!
Transitioning from the village of Pinnaroo to oversized Melbourne at its peak of tourist season was overwhelming and not something I was metally prepared for. I was used to having a maximum of 15 people around me at once. The big city life with huge and packed crowds, fast pace, loud noise and smells lead to an overstimulation the first couple of days (meaning I felt stressed and exhausted).
I wasn’t exactly sure why I was steered towards Melbourne. But once I arrived I thought it might be a good place to cross something off my list that I needed to achieve before leaving Australia. Although I had plenty of time remaining in the country I preferred it accomplished as soon as possible so I could relax on all adventures to come. What I wanted was to attend a CELTA course (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The plan was: once my time was up in Australia I’d head over to Asia for travels plus teach English as a second language. As I found out, there are countless schools to choose from in Melbourne. After a great deal of googling I chose to apply for a 4 week intensive Celta course at Monash University. I was interviewed and did two tests before finding out I was accepted (standard procedure).
I had two weeks of freedom before school began which I used to settle in and catch up with old friends. I moved into Urban central, a nice hostel with super friendly staff, a library and walking distance to all you need and the CBD (I highly recommend Urban central, it’s one of the best hostels I’ve been to!). I also got a job at the Swedish School, which was great for teaching experience and earned me an extra income. Once the adult stuff was out of the way, I took the time to enjoy myself. Melbourne is known for its festivals and I was lucky enough to endure 3 of them!
The first one was the Chinese festival which I honestly stumbled into while out walking, the focus was on musical performances
I meet up Lucy and Izzy to have some fun at Midsumma festival. I got to know both of them at Cotton Tree hostel in Maroochydore 2 year prior while doing my mandatory farmwork at Strawberry fields (that’s a story for another time). Midsumma festival is a queer art and cultural festival with lots of events and perfomances all over town. We met up at Alexandra Gardens in the CBD for the carnival part. The carnival was basically a huge daytime and partly nighttime outdoors party with tons of live performances. Here are just few snippets:
My friend Jess (who I met in Pinnaroo and who left the small town before me) had been inThailand and was returning to Australia, arriving in Melbourne which was great news for me! We had an adventure day at the St Kilda festival. Live music, great food and lots of laughter.
After getting the festivities out of my system it was time to get down to business and study. The Celta intensive course was no joke! For 4 weeks I was fully in my own Celta zone. All my time (including sleeping) was dedicated to Celta. Either I was in class, working on papers constantly needed to be handed in, preparing for the classes I was teaching or teaching a class (which were evaluated by teacher and peers). If you’re considering this course don’t expect it to be an easy ride, it’s hands down the most intensive 4 weeks of my life! But I did it and obviously the class needed to celebrate (and sleep) afterwards!
It was now mid March 2020. As I mentioned, Celta was hectic. I kid you not, during the course I only ate out (no time for cooking), did not speak to anyone on the phone and was rarely on social media. This meant that I was oblivious about the virus situation that was taking place. I remember seeing or hearing about toilet paper but couldn’t make sense of it. The first time I set foot in a grocery store after the course I was surprised most shelves were empty yet no bells were ringing. My reasoning was that the food transportation must be stuck somewhere or late. I’d go for walks at night having no clue why busy Melbourne had all of a sudden turned into a ghost town. Well, I was about to find out. Little did I know the next chapter of my travels would also sadly, be my last. I was stuck in Melbourne, alone and with lockdown and restrictions in place…