My priority while staying in Australia was to concentrate on my studies. I went to the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne and recently completed my Masters at the institution's Conservatorium of Music.
What impressed me the most were the facilities on offer at the university. The environment was set to motivate students to learn as much as possible. Apart from my faculty's 24-hour access to practise rooms, there were other academic aids such as computers with Internet access and a very useful online library. I could work on my research anywhere and at any time thanks to the university's website, which also allows access to other online services, such as Grove Music online, through a student account and password.
The library also found rare books or volumes it did not own upon request. Though I never had to avail of this service, I would really like to see a library like this in Thailand. However, most good treatises, especially those in my field of study, are in English.
The warm culture and active arts scene were the other factors that helped me choose Melbourne. Like other large cities, this is a major destination for international artists. I benefited hugely from international acts as well as the rich contemporary Australian music.
Though initially I was a bit intimidated by the size of everything, I quickly found out that the people were very nice and easygoing. The culture is simple, and in some ways, I feel, it is quite similar to Asian culture. I made friends with a few Australian families who treated me as one of their own. Something I experienced when a close friend's family took me to their farm. All that walking, mountain air and feeding sheep was exhilarating.
On another trip with the same family, I learned some interesting culinary lessons. We all decided to go for a meal after attending a concert, and decided to indulge the carnivores in us when we saw the menu. My friend's father went for camel, while the rest opted for emu and kangaroo. I, however, decided to play it safe and stick to chicken.
Still, I was given a taste of the different meats and discovered that camel was tough, emu really fatty, while kangaroo - easily the healthiest - tasted like it had milk mixed in. This was perhaps the most memorable meal I've had in Australia, though I don't think I'll be that adventurous again.
These are just some of my fond memories and I can't wait to get back and catch up with my friends again.
Graduate of Victorian College of the Arts (majoring in piano performance)
The University of Melbourne