The weather is absolutely fantastic. We're two thirds of the way through autumn and have already had some days with daily maximums below the coldest daily maximum in Brisbane for all of 2006. I like being able to wear more than just a t-shirt without worrying whether I will be too hot, and the increased frequency of rain and its lowered association with stormy weather makes for a pleasant change. Of course, that's the funny thing: I feel like I have come to a wetter city, while Kate has often made reference to Melbourne as a place without rain! Well, for me, it's wet: I think I've been caught in rain three times at university already, whereas all of last year, I never once encountered rain at university. It once rained briefly while I was in an exam, but that's it. Living here, there is actually a point to carrying an umbrella in my bag!
This is also easily one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited. Before moving here, Melbourne was my second favourite city in the world behind my native Wellington, but I think it may just become #1. Every day I go to uni, my tram travels through Royal Park, and last week, Kate and I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance. Damn, those parklands are fantastic, and the Shrine has to be the single best war memorial I have visited in my life. It is such a fitting tribute and the presentation is immaculate. I'll definitely be going back soon, especially as I don't think I got to see even half of the parkland. I also love all of the fantastic old buildings through the centre of the city like the State Library, a number of churches, and most of all, Flinders Street Station (hmm, I wonder why! Couldn't be due to the railway factor, could it?). It makes a change from the often brash and gaudy buildings of the Gold Coast that I was once accustomed to.
And today, I indulged in another one of the very best factors: the prevalence of shops selling gelati! I rarely recall ever encountering gelati shops in Queensland, but here, it feels like I could walk in any direction from my flat and find somewhere selling gelati within ten minutes. I see very little reason to ever go back to ordinary ice cream as gelati is so incredibly better. Sure, ice cream's nice, but lemon and chocolate gelati make it look like pumpkin in comparison (words cannot describe my disdain for pumpkin).
Another pleasant aspect of today was that I got my first piece of assessment at the University of Melbourne returned. I was a bit nervous as I was wondering how the standard of marking would compare; I was surprised that the top marking range is 80-100% rather than UQ's 85-100%, so I figured they would be marking harder. My essay was on European Union rail transport policy, and despite the railway connection, policymaking has its own special brand of boredom that permeates pretty much all aspects of it and by the end of working on the essay, I was so sick of it that I stopped caring about my mark and just wanted to hand it in and forget about it. I expected a poor mark by my standards. At Melbourne, the marks are, from best to worst: H1 (honours first class), H2A, H2B, H3, C (credit), P (pass), Fail (which is 0-49%). I was expecting something around H3 (65%). So I opened up my essay and was stunned to see an H1 staring back at me. I'm understandably feeling pretty good about university right now! I'm certainly very happy at UM; I think the people are friendlier, the library is much better (so many books on New Zealand's railways!), and apart from the mindnumbing boredom of European bureaucracy, I like all of my subjects.
Well, that's enough for now. Have a good one, folks!