Postcard from Abroad – University of Western Australia Perth

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Perth is a peculiar place. I appear to be in the worrying minority of people who elect to don any sort of footwear to attend university. Call me old fashioned, but I feel as though barefoot in a lecture theatre is slightly too new-wave for me to quite jump on board with. Apparently these beachy, long-haired Adonises who believe that everything in life is “hell good,” do not share my views.

After having spent the last two years in Leeds, with house music, glitter, and the insistence on being “edgy” shoved down my throat, I was intrigued to see what Perth had to offer in terms of nightlife. My first experience of Australian culture was aimlessly wandering into a booze shop (yep, imagine my horror – supermarkets don’t stock grog), and realising I could afford absolutely nothing, thus surrendering to the five litre box of goon. Goon is a mythical drink. It is, by definition, wine. But I can safely say, after several encounters with it, it is so far from any wine I have ever consumed. To say its consequences are that of a Jekyll/Hyde effect is an understatement. However, at the recent First Year College Dinner I attended (yes, that’s right, I am now a 21 year old fresher – but we’ll come back to that), I partook in a fight against goon and came out victorious. And have since vowed to stay well clear of the stuff for the remainder of my time in Perth. Until my bank account is so thin you can see its backbone.

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Right, away from crass student ways and onto more cultural things. There is no doubt in the world that the University of Western Australia’s campus puts the grey misery of Leeds to shame. Back home the best attraction of uni life was the resident tramp outside Sainsbury’s with a penchant for verbally abusing innocent passers-by and users of the cash machine. On my first morning trundling into lectures half-asleep (at 9am on a Monday morning I might add – who in the world does that to an English Lit student who’s not used to facing the world until at least midday?), I found myself almost flying headfirst into the ground and spilling triple shot coffee all over myself as I tripped over a…wait for it…peacock. No word of a lie, they are everywhere. Poor confused little Freya from the suburbs had no idea what she was in for.

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A photo legitimately taken outside the Arts Building

On the note of coffee I may add, Australia knows what’s up. I’ve never considered myself a coffee gal, always preferring a mug of Earl Grey like the true British patriot I am. But over here, I find myself practically injecting my eyeballs with caffeine because the stuff is so magical. It also definitely doesn’t hurt that Aussie baristas seem to have the ‘Bartender Effect’ down pat. There’s something indescribably alluring about them that leaves me unable to say the words ‘one flat white please’ without sounding like a gibbering wreck with a severe speech impediment.

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So, I feel it of note to mention that I am living in college, which is basically the equivalent of English halls of residence, but on crack. Being not only a fresher, but a ‘fresh fresher’, having joined halfway through the year, I am in the same category as all the 17 and 18 year old juvies, trying not to corrupt them too much with my inappropriate anecdotes of filth and debauchery. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and I was more than a little flummoxed as I approached it on my first night, delirious after 30 hours with no sleep. This was soon soothed with a bowl of pot noodles, which, most depressingly, I had to eat with two pens as chopsticks because of my lack of culinary implements. I do honestly feel as though I’m living in a castle. Or, at least, the hideous 70s extension to a castle. Yep, I pulled the short straw, and am living in the ugliest part of the college which resembles nothing more than a mental asylum. Which is especially depressing when the rest of the college looks like this.

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As an aside, that’s just me singing with the college girls’ ensemble, which I’ll be Musical Director of next semester. I intend on transforming the current repertoire of quaint, old-school little ditties to a feast of Nicki Minaj in four part harmonies, and other highly inappropriate selections. May as well continue the corruption in all means possible.

Uni-wise, I feel as though I am honestly having to do twelve times the amount of work as I did back in Leeds. But I cannot complain – the curriculum is rich. And when I say rich, I mean downright bizarre. When I first looked at the syllabus and the first text of a unit was ‘The Cat in the Hat’, I admit, I did stare at it incredulously, wondering how I was going to sit through a whole year of this. But in hindsight, I take it all back – it was incredible. However, suffice to say, I shall not be reading a children’s book in the same way again after discovering that Dr Seuss’ seemingly innocent Thing 1 and Thing 2 were, in actual fact, nothing more than personified genitalia. Not quite what I was expecting from studying abroad, but a little nugget of fun nonetheless.

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But so far, it’s easily been the best four months of my life. There has never been a dull moment, from getting my legs cut to shreds on coral in the north-most point of Western Australia at Ningaloo Reef, to getting so inordinately burnt on a speedboat at Rottnest Island that I left a trail of peeling skin behind me for days after, it’s been quite a journey. Every day brings another hilarious moment, and spending my days sitting in the sun on the quad or the beach, beer in hand, with an array of handsome men around me is really not a bad way to live for a year. Thank god for my dual citizenship, because I can vouch for the fact that I will most definitely be back.

The aftermath of said boating trip
The aftermath of said boating trip

Freya Parr

Images courtesy of Freya Parr

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