The Beginning of The End in Melbourne


This week marks the last week of February and the [soon] end of my last full month in Melbourne (that is if you can even count February as a full month with only 28 days in it). Many of the mates I’ve made here have been asking me to stay longer. Believe me when I say I wish I could. My visa is actually good for another six months (full year), but I have university calling me back home. Would I come back if I were to receive an employment offer in Melbourne? Most likely, absolutely. But, I have another 15 (expected) months left at Drexel before I graduate.

Am I looking forward to returning to Drexel? Yes and no. There are many things I am looking forward to seeing, like another completed construction project (that started when I was a Freshman!) and the beginning of SEPTA’s transition from tokens to a fare card. There is no doubt I will miss Melbourne’s vastly superior tram network though. As large as Philly’s bus network is, I’d take a tram over a bus any day, even if the trams do run slower here (usually; traffic conditions permitting). Philly’s regional rail network is also pretty large and the Silverliner Vs are beautiful, but I think the tram network here is a bit more scenic and, lets face it, I love the E-Class.

Would I take living in Melbourne over Philly? That actually is a tough call. It’s no secret Philly has plenty of issues with crime and whatnot, but it’s still a city I feel comfortable calling home. Even though the NGV is free, I prefer the Philadelphia Museum of Art by a long shot MoMA’s not bad either (granted it’s not in Philly). I do like Melbourne’s community spaces and parks much better though. Philly is pretty much known primarily for two parks: Love Park and Fairmount Park. The Oval is shaping up to be a good space as well. However, Love Park is either overrun with tourists or undesirables and Fairmount Park has a serious lack of public transit. It’s also unwelcomingly close to a no-go area.

Melbourne, on the other hand… Fed Square? Safe, right next to a major tram stop. Royal Botanic Gardens? Safe, big enough to compare to Fairmount, bit of a hike from the tram stop. St. Kilda Botanical Gardens? Safe if you ignore the drunks, close enough to public transport. I could list many, many more.

Cost of living wise, however, I think things turn slightly in Philly’s favor. Public transport is much cheaper. Prices of products are generally cheaper as well. Housing varies wildly. Given that Philly comes off as potentially the next big startup city, it will be very interesting to see if things change. I highly doubt it will become Silicon Valley overnight, but Philly is a city I’d keep an eye on.

Now, if I were to come back to Melbourne, would I want to come back to the same job? That’s a tough call. It’s been less than enjoyable, but I don’t think I’d completely rule it out yet. I think an IT job at Yarra Trams could be an interesting one, but I have no idea how much of their IT things are done in-house versus supported by vendors. On that note, there are still some IT fields and environments I’d be interested in that aren’t exactly on the path I’m currently studying. Is Apple still my dream job? Maybe. I’d be highly interested in IT in the anime field, something like what Danny Choo does. To throw a curveball in to the mix, driving a tram also interests me, as does programming them. I think it’s still hard to say what I want to do when I graduate from Drexel. I know what I’m interested in, but I don’t think I have a definite choice in mind at this point.

So, as much as I hate to do it, I am counting down the days I have left in Melbourne. It’s been fun, but like all good things, my time here does have to come to an end.