Sometimes the key part of studying abroad gets lost among the unforgettable weekend nights out in the city, sun-soaked excursions to nearby countries, and time-consuming but worthwhile home-cooked meals with the apartment-mates from all over the world. Still haven’t figured out what I’m referring to yet? Well, read on. (Hint: the word I’m thinking about is literally in the first sentence.)

This is a question I get asked all the time: what’s a typical day of an RMIT international student? The short answer is it ranges, depending on the student and day. Every uni student has his or her own agenda from work to volunteering to the numbers of hours spent in class. For me though, every day is different as I waitress at a dumpling restaurant for three shifts during the week, and have full class-intensive days on Tuesdays and Fridays. My Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally free with the exception of a monthly workshop for my environmental course. However, all of us at RMIT share the same experience of attending a colorful institution at the heart of the CBD, complete with the regular sounds of trams screeching on steel, and the smells of cigarette smoke and multicultural foods wafting through the air.

RMIT building
RMIT’s Design Hub is one of the many sustainable buildings on campus! The disks that cover the entire outer shell of the building are used to harness solar power

Most of the time, I forget that I’m supposed to be “bored in class” because my campus is the always exciting city. This is exactly what I wanted when I was picking my city of study and location of uni just a couple of months ago back in the States. My home university in San Diego is pretty young, so I was deliberately looking for a campus with an old school feel to it in terms of establishment and architecture. I also preferred to be in the city versus a suburban surrounding because again it was just the opposite of what I was used to during my past three years at UCSD. Melbourne is a city filled with many choices of uni (RMIT, Melbourne Uni, Monash, Deakin etc.) but through the process of elimination, I was able to find the perfect match to fit my needs.

RMIT Building 80
The Swanston Academic Building AKA “Building 80” is my favorite place to study because of its motion-sensor escalators, edgy bathrooms, and 11 floors of study lounges and classrooms covered by free wifi. This is a picture of the ground level lounge

So for those of you wondering how in the world you will be able to pick a country to travel to, let alone decide on the exact uni for study, the truth is that the magic formula is unique to each individual. I am lucky in the sense that I knew I wanted to study in Australia and Melbourne more specifically, but RMIT stood out to me with its 1887 establishment and wacky structures set in the center of the CBD. In terms of my course schedule, I can also say that I am enjoying myself immensely with my variety of classes from Psychology to Cinemas to Environmental Systems and Nutrition. Because of my potpourri of courses, I have been able to meet a wide range of Aussies from the high-fashion art students to the active citizens of environmental justice! Again, it is up to you to decide what path you want to take in your courses, as that might dictate the variety of locals you meet in your study abroad experience and the experiences that follow those friendships.

Homemade meal
It was homemade quesadilla night with my friends Olivia and France! We laughed over the fact that Aussies call bell peppers ‘capsicum’ and that a French-made quesadilla is very different from an American-made one.

My last wish that I hoped to achieve in my search for “the uni for me” was not only the school itself, but the environment of the city and its surrounds. I love how I’ve already been in Melbourne for a month, and yet I still feel like I haven’t explored the RMIT City Campus and Melbourne city to the fullest extent possible. Every second I spend at RMIT and Melbourne is enough to keep me energized even if I had only gotten five hours of sleep the night before. I always tell myself when I walk to class fighting the gusts of wind (Melbourne weather is a mix of windy/rainy/cloudy/sunny…and that’s typical): I AM SO LUCKY TO BE HERE. Indeed I am. Melbourne has got everything from museums and gardens to riverside tracks for running, alleyways for exploring, and the coolest and trendiest bars and restaurants for the ultimate foodies.

Swanston St
Swanston Street is pictured in this shot from Cookie’s rooftop bar. Swanston is the main road in Melbourne CBD, and a lot of RMIT buildings are located on this very street!

P.S. For those keen-eyed readers, the answer to my introductory question was…studying.

Jodi Huang is a student at the University of California, San Diego and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Jodi is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia.