My Melbourne – by Patrick Benc

    My Melbourne by Patrick Benc

    MCGWhy did you move to Australia?

    Being a 19 year old gap year student from the UK, I was looking for something fun and exciting to do in my year off. The opportunity to play and coach Hockey around Australia for 6 months came up and, being a keen hockey player, it was the ideal thing for me to do.

     

    Why did you choose Melbourne and how long have you been there?

    I chose Melbourne for a number of reasons. Often labelled the ‘sports capital of the world’, it seamed a great place not only to improve my Hockey but also to learn about the culture surrounding other sports such as the famous Victorian game of Aussie Rules. However after more research I quickly found out that sport isn’t the only cultural aspect of Melbourne. It’s also famous for its art, festivals, live performances, architecture, restaurants and street culture. I have been in melbourne for 2 and a half months now and have been to the Melbourne international comedy festival, Jazz festival, Shrine of Remembrance, been up to the Eureka Skydeck, around the Botanic gardens, through the city ‘laneways’, and explored the city centre as well as many other things. It’s now pretty obvious to me why Melbourne is an international culture centre.

     

    What’s your visa status and how have you found the visa stuff in general to date?

    I am on a working holiday visa which allows me to work and holiday in Australia for up to a year. I found the application pretty easy. I applied online and it was far more straight forward than I thought it would be.

     

    What are your three favourite things about Melbourne?

    1. Well, I like to eat and Melbourne has a colossal selection of restaurants, cafes, and other food places to chose from. Therefore you can almost certainly find a restaurant within your budget serving the food you desire. For me that’s Asian food, and where I live (chapel street) I have more than a few to chose from.
    2. Being able to get tickets to NRL, Super League, international Rugby and the A league games for just $40. As well as cheap tickets, the whole process of going to these professional sports games is so easy. You can decide a few hours (or minutes!) before a game that you want to see it, get a train or tram towards the stadium, queue up at the ticket stand for a few minutes (I’ve never queued for more than 15 minutes), get your ticket and walk in. Literally no hassle.
    3. The Nightlife. There are a number of different areas within Melbourne where the nightlife is good such as the city, Chapel Street and St Kilda. As well as Nightclubs there are a number of bars each with their own kind of atmosphere. There are a few down Chapel Street where I live that have some great live music so if we don’t fancy a big night out we will usually go to one of these bars to have a drink, listen to the music and soak up the atmosphere.

     

    What’s your favourite Melbourne view?

    I am a member of the Tennis world gym and when I stand at the entrance, to my left is the Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas where the Australian Tennis Open is held, to my right is the phenomenal MCG and straight ahead I can see the tall sky scrapers of the city centre. However my favourite view was when sitting in the MCG watching Collingwood vs Essendon on Anzac day with a crowd of 93000!

    What is the best thing you have done in Australia?

    This is tough as I have done a few amazing things. Learning to surf was great fun as well as seeing my first Aussie rules game in the MCG on Anzac day with a crowd of 93,000. But I think my road trip along the Great Ocean Road takes the prize. 10 of us hired two camper vans and drove for 3 nights and four days stopping at all the tourist attractions along the way. The views were fantastic pretty much the whole way. We stopped at the famous 12 Apostles, went to a few bays and beaches, did a forest walk, and swam in a waterfall (so cold). Plus the whole thing only cost $80 each.

     

    What’s the one thing you miss most from home?

    If I’m honest there’s not much that I miss from home (yet). In terms of materialistic things, Australia has pretty much everything England has. I would probably say my dog Pepper is what I miss most.

     

    What’s the one thing you enjoy here the most that you could’t get at home?

    Trams. As well as trains, buses and taxis Melbourne has a tram network that takes you pretty much anywhere within the city centre and most suburbs. They are fairly frequent (every 15/20 minutes) so getting to where you need to go is fairly easy once you get used to how they work.

     

    Where do you work? Is it different from home?

    I work as a hockey coach at Camberwell Grammar School and Powerhouse St Kilda Hockey Club. I don’t think it is too different from coaching at home apart from the winter weather maybe. Coaching in the middle of winter in the UK is pretty punishing and no one really wants to be there so it can be difficult. However winter in Australia is perfect Hockey playing weather as it’s not too cold yet it is cool enough to prevent the players from running out of breath after 10 minutes. I think it’s a different matter in the summer though!

     

    What tip would you give people moving to Australia now?

    I think it’s important to be friendly and open minded. That’s how most Melbournians are and by doing so you will get to know more people and therefore you will learn more about the city and its culture. The people I meet at work and at training are very generous, inviting me over for dinner, recommending restaurants bars and clubs, offering me part time work, giving me lifts to various places and some even offering me a place to stay for up to 6 months! The Chairman of my Hockey club offered up her beach house to me and my friends for a week which is remarkable as I’d only just met her two weeks previously. Very kind (and brave).

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