Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our year: 2014

Lets have a look back at our year. We have the highlights and the lowlights.

The Highlights
* From 2015 there will be cheap travel for all International students as Victoria has decided to participate in the scheme. More so there will be free trams
* We went to our very first masterclass with John Lawson at South Melbourne, High tea and buffet. We had not done this in previous years.
* Volunteering at the Couch has helped us to assess where we want to go with this blog and what some of the issues are with students.
* We have not done any fine dining whatsoever so this year  was a first
* The Open for Inspection play let us see some of the issues that International students face in a share house.
* We organised our first picnic that year with lovely food from the market.
* We had our first ever high tea in Sofitel
* This year was also our first time visiting regional areas such as Silvan more than once and realising how beautiful it is.
* Our first time participating in the Good Food and Wine festival- Nobu and Atlantic gave us a bit of a taste into fine dining
* We volunteered for the welcome desk- in that we saw what sort of things students need to know before coming.

The Lowlights

* The cheating scandal- it brought Victoria's and Australia's reputation into question. It also proves that English is still pretty poor in Universities all around the country.
* We ate a bit too much over Winter and as students we do that sometimes
* International students are still having to take out Private Health insurance and on top of this fees are very expensive
* Education is still quite expensive and with the fees being deregulated we don't know what is next. But with Labour being voted as Victoria's government in a recent election fees might be a bit cheaper as of 2015.
* Living fees is still pretty expensive. To add to the insult the Emporium was built this year and whilst some shops are quite cheap, others are ridiciously expensive. Ie: Victoria's secret.
* Racism and attacks on International students is an ongoing problem in Australia.
* Underpayment of cleaners is another ongoing one with the news that MCG cleaners have underpaid. This is the same for students working in hospitality and fast food sectors.
* MYKI is still being a bit of a problem for some students and in fact one of our friends was fined for not being able to find a place to top up in an unfamiliar area and then it would not touch on.

In twelve months time we would love to see everybody being paid fairly. We also love to see that International students understand what their health insurance provides and what it does not. We are also trying to put more living articles up on our blog and working hard to maintain that.

As for the MYKI we hope that more places will be selling them seeing as its the only way to get around.

As for English it is hoped that universities would select students with a score of 7 or 8 in IELTS and not merely a 6. This would reduce the need for ghost writers and enhance Australia's reputation as a great study destination.

Happy new year to all of our readers and thank you for your support in 2014.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Is Australia racist in general

In the last few months we have seen a lot of racism and a lot of the times it just takes just one taunt or push or shove and then that student is traumatised and is not able to focus on their studies. They are usually scared for their lives.

Racism felt by students
A lot of Muslims and some Asian students felt that Australia is not a safe place after one or two taunts. But in actual fact it is.

Muslim women have to wear the hijab and many of the locals don't want to sit near them on the tram, train or bus for fear of attack and terrorism. In fact some of the locals think of them as terrorist.

Name calling and attacks
Earlier this year a Japanese student was attacked in Perth. It left them traumatised. Students in Melbourne have been called names and other things.

Speaking up
In Asian cultures we learn not to speak up and to obey our masters. But in Australia speaking up is encouraged. In university this is encouraged.

But to some extent what can governments and universities do to support students?
International students are paying around $16000-$32000 per year on tuition and even more for student services, whilst domestic students have HECS and pay 10X less that amount. Government and universities should charge the same fee. Universities should try and use this money to improve their student services and their presence on campus. Meanwhile unis should also have a better international student support service in place for International students and employ more staff for counselling services.

What do you think? Is Australia racist?

A relaxing Sunday Afternoon in Williamstown.

Williamstown is a small beach town in Melbourne where it attracts tourists and locals alike. There is a ferry from Southbank to Williamstown which is $15 per ride or you can catch the train like I did.  But you just have to get off at the very last stop and walk ten minutes down Thomson st til you get to Nelson place and you are there.

On every third Sunday there is a Williamstown Craft Market where you can pick locally made goods for under $20 and they have childrens toys and things. It was also relaxing to see the dogs come out and play and I loved patting some of the cutest ones in town.
The port and a ship coming in

The mussel boat- what a lovely sight



Food stalls

Cutie dog
Donut van

We had lunch at home but we checked out this ice cream stall called Gelateria Capricho which has been in business for 20 years and they are voted the best ice creamery in Melbourne. They won numerous awards for outstanding ice cream. And they were just delish. There was one very sour looking lady but the others were darn fine.

At 2pm a lot of locals and tourists came and enjoyed their ice cream all round. They don't do samples.

My ice cream
Our last stop was the old Original lolly shop which reminded me of my childhood days where I used to do lucky dip. I did buy a lucky dip just for fun and nostagalia.  The lady was lovely to me but unfortunately there was no EFTPOS and it was cash only. I had wanted to buy the dutch cookies but no cash.

Oh we bought this honesty stone, to remind us bloggers to be honest throughout next year.

Capriccio One Gelato on Urbanspoon Gelateria Capriccio on Urbanspoon

Alison Nelson's Handmade chocolates

There are a whole heap of new chocolate stores popping up in Melbourne and Alison Nelson is the latest one. Hailing from New York it is a success in Melbourne and it appears to be that RNIS is the first one to write about this.

Alison Nelson is in Emporium and they have only been open for six months. They caters for kids as well as Adults so Joyce from Mel: HOT OR NOT might actually enjoy this. She and all the parenting bloggers might actually like this place.

I came at 11:30am wanting coffee and cake. I saw the sign saying $7 for coffee and cake and the luscious looking cakes so I was tempted. That and I saw the handmade chocolates and thought "wow I must try". The handmade chocolates are $2.50 each but they are seriously THAT GOOD.

The service there was great and the waitstaff were very attentive. The American one was very friendly.

So I did. I had a piccolo and a chocolate cupcake. The cupcake was divine and was just like I would make at home which is not too sweet and not too moist. The piccolo was burnt and was bitter. But I loved the sublime lime handmade chocolate.

THERE WAS NO ARTWORK ON MY PICCOLO! I would love some artwork as Melbourne coffees have artwork on them.

Rating: 14/20-come for the chocolate and the chocolate drinks. They have a huge range of chocolate drinks which are not overpriced like Max Brenner. That and their chocolate gifts on display which are fun to look at and seriously addictive.
Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar NYC on Urbanspoon

Empress of China

With Leandro and three others.

Empress of China is in Chinatown near the corner of Lt Bourke and Exhibition sts. Like most places it is a two storey Chinese restaurant.

We came at 8pm and were served quickly. We had one boiled vegetarian dumplings ($4 for 8 pieces), red bean pancake ($4.50), fried vegetarian dumplings ($8 for 15 pieces) and prawn wontons in soup (I think it was $9). We also had beef dumplings (I think it was $8.50).

The floors were really sticky and the bathrooms weren't so clean. They are up on the second floor and behind a door.

Attention of the wait staff was hard to get, but once we got it it was alright. The guy didn't know much about how big the pancake was.

Red Bean Pancake

But at least we didn't  have to wait long for the food and we sipped on complimentary tea. The dumplings when they came were rather small but moreish and it was perfect without the sauce.

The red bean pancake was my favourite. That and the vegetarian dumplings. As for the prawn wontons I could not taste the meat in this. So I was very happy as a pescatarian. It was supposed to have pork in there but oh well.

14/20- loved the dumplings, but some training is needed for the service. Oh and some  basic hygiene too.
Empress of China on Urbanspoon

NL House

NL House is known for Nasi Lemak house so of course I was expecting ecceptional Lemak, Aunty Khoo's style. Aunty Khoo's style was exceptional and she made this really good sambal. A good Nasi Lemak to me ad other Malaysians is one that has really spicy sambal sauce and good coconut rice. Oh and the one that I had at the Good Neighbourhood Month had lots of peanuts, two egg halves and anchovies.

NL House is about a ten minute walk from RMIT and its across the road from Melbourne Uni. It is an easy walk via Cardigan st in Carlton. It is popular with all the uni students for its low cost.

I remembered reading a lot of good reviews about this place so I had high expectations of the teh tarik and lemak. Well for starters it was lukewarm and it came with a piece of chicken which after eating Aunty Khoo's lemak I did not expect. And it only came with one egg half instead of two and not much nuts and anchovies.

The coconut rice was really good and it is just the way that Aunty Khoo makes it. And I enjoyed their homemade chilli sauce. You can buy this for $5 a jar and next time I will. I loved the onion in there.

The teh tarik was good too, but a little too milky in my case and not enough tea to it. what would be great is if they can offer some baby sized teh tarkis for those that want to lose the weight.

Rating: 12/20 lukewarm Nasi Lemak, not as good as Aunty Khoo's but the sauce is the best!

NL House (Nasi Lemak House) on Urbanspoon

Tutti Frutti

As part of Bupa's best blog competition for 2015.

Tutti Frutti is a chain store which sells frozen yoghurt or froyo is full of probiotics to help you feel better. It is full of that calcium goodness as well.

Froyo doesn't contain as much sugar or as much fat as normal ice cream and you can choose to go all frutty like I did or you can choose the sugary stuff. But the sugary stuff that you choose might just contain some empty calories and no nutrients such as Vitamin C which is essential for keeping the colds and illnesses at bay.

Here you pay by the weight and not by the tub as some people think. It is $2.60 for 100gms of yoghurt. Like the other Tutti Frutti's this store has 8 flavours to choose from. I chose the coconut and enjoyed a tiny tub with some fruits and jellies.

Froyo is a great movie snack without the guilt and it is great that the major shopping centres such as Highpoint have this. It is such a guilt free snack that is also gluten free.

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Cacao Green in Camberwell

This week Cacao Green had a Groupon deal for $5 for $10 to spend in store. So RNIS bought that but had to pay for their drink which is a green tea latte.

This Cacao Green is near the Camberwell station and I had only passed it once when I visited Italy 1. It looked amazing so I had wanted to give this a go. It is a tiny place with open windows.

There weren't that many people there when I swung by at 2pm , but more came later. In fact no knew about the Groupon deal for this place. The guy working there was very friendly and welcomed his customers. In fact I think he was the owner.

Their motto is "treat yourself well" and that's what I did. I had an original froyo with three toppings ($9.10 for a regular) and a $4.50 big green tea latte. I really enjoyed the matcha today.  It was not too sweet and was really strong. It was also fairly creamy.
Green tea latte (left) and Froyo (right)

Froyo close up

Their low fat froyo was really low in fat and creaminess. The sugariness came from the green apple pearls which went well with the strawberries and peaches.

I hope that more bloggers come by this place. Confessions of a little piggy, I'm looking at you. And same as with Curious Charlie.

Cacao Green on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sydney was under siege

 RNIS is deeply saddened by the events this week in Sydney and they would like to give praise to the police and government for intervening in this difficult time.

On Monday the 15th of December, the ever so popular Martin Place was under siege by a lone person. A lot of train and bus services were disrupted and people were evacuated from the CBD in Sydney. This is a time where students should be happy that they have finished uni for the year or in some cases are graduating,

The siege happened at 9am in Lindt cafĂ© where an Arabic sign was placed against the window by the hostages. Police were soon outside the building.  Pandemonium ensured and some International students were scared

On Tuesday morning at 2:45am all the hostages were freed, but two were dead along with the gunman. Our condolences go out to the victims.

On that same morning Martin Place was reopened.

Tony Abbott the prime minister urged everyone to stay calm and the police are doing everything they can to keep people safe. He also said that "Australia is a safe, generous and open place". We also remind students to stay calm and like CISA we also believe in unity not racism.

Like CISA we are saddened for the people that died and all the other victims.

Seven Individuals- a movie by Yang Fudong

As a part of China close up, ACMI had decided to host a free film for all. It was a five and a half hour long one and many people came and gone. RNIS stayed for almost the whole film. They however had other commitments on in part 3 so they couldn't stay.

The film is broken up into five parts; the first one being the introduction at the mountains, the second one is about love in the city (note this is the only one with the speeches between people), the third one (we were not here for that), the fourth one (71 mins) was in a rural part of China near the beach (it was about communism and working hard) and the fifth and final one was in the city again, this time with foreign dancing and wine.

We decided on four themes of the film.
Love: This was portrayed in the second part of the film. And then it was also portrayed in the last part of the film where they were dancing.

Nakedness: It was portrayed in all five parts of the film with the dressing in the opening part. The actors pretty much wore the same clothes throughout.
We loved seeing these naked bodies having sex. It reminded us of "Lust and Caution" which is an Ang Lee film and uses this sort of thing.

Cultural things
The fourth part goes into a lot of detail about rural life in China where people worked very very very hard. We were squeamish when they were cutting out the squid's guts but we did not mind when they were hanging these to dry.

The fifth part was all about the food which the Chinese love a lot of. That and wine and being so drunk that they all fell asleep.

We loved the dancing throughout the movie.

The use of nature
Yang Fudong portrays China's nature very well. From the mountains to the city we can see it all through his eyes and wonderful photography. We also noticed that he uses a lot of water throughout for good feng shui.

We can see why he won a few awards for his films in America and do go and check out his exhibition at ACMI. It is on from now until the 15th of March and it is free.


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