Our experience here in Melbourne has been great. We had a few more professional visits, going to the U.S. Consulate, IBM, DeBella Coffee and touring the Carleton Brewery.
The visit to the consulate was pretty interesting, because I wasn’t exactly sure what made a consulate different than an embassy or really what they did there. The political and economic officer that spoke with us said that the only real difference between the embassy in Canberra and the consulate in Melbourne was that the consulate didn’t interact much with the federal government of Australia. Rather, they work more on social media and with the local community to show the benefit of having a diplomatic relationship with the United States. I also learned quite a bit about the state department and how the lines of communication between the consulates and Washington work.
Afterwards, we toured IBM and learned a little bit from an IBMer who works on blockchain about some of the projects that are taking place at this particular office. I was surprised to see how open their office spaces were, how many whiteboards were all around the office, and that there were very few spaces to work privately. Personally, I’m not sure how I would do working in an environment like that, because I know I like to listen to music out loud and move around when I work, both of which distract anyone who is around me. I was most curious about their blockchain project, because that seems to be the next up-and-coming piece of technology, and how it would affect business locally and worldwide. I admit I still don’t have a great understanding of what it is exactly, but the explanation that we got for how it could be used for a practical solution made a lot of sense. It even seemed that there would be the possibility that blockchain could help with government programs and services, streamlining the processes and taking the work out of the government’s hands.
We had lunch with Mark Collard, an author and consultant who is Clarkson’s first MBA graduate. He spoke with us about his consulting and speaking practices and gave us some insight on how to warm up a crowd when speaking to a large group. We also spoke about his time in Australia, what he does for fun and what he would recommend since we had a free day.
Afterwards, we took the tram across town to Dibella Coffee Roasters where we learned about the coffee roasting process and tasted a few different brewing types. I was surprised as to how quickly the coffee beans roasted, with the roasting process only taking about fifteen minutes. I was also surprised to learn that you could change the flavor and body of the coffee profile by mixing different types of beans or roasting the beans for different amounts of time.
Finally, to wrap the day up, we took a tour of the Carleton Brewery. I had toured the Coors brewery before so I kind of knew what to expect, but I was still excited because I didn’t know if the same processes were being used here to brew beer or not. Our tour guide was very informative, and I enjoyed how he would throw jokes in at unexpected times while he was talking about the brewing process. The six beers that they had us try afterwards were very good, and all things I would order if I went to a bar or a pub while in Australia. The beers we tried were Frothy, Carleton Dry, Carleton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, and the Carleton Dark.
On our last day in Melbourne we had a free day, which a small group of us used to meet up with an Australian university student here that took a semester abroad at Clarkson and explore the town. We toured Artvo, which was an optical illusion art gallery where you can take pictures. Clearly, the group that I went with certainly are Melbourne’s beautiful people (and I’m the most beautiful if I do say so myself). We had a great time roaming the corridors snapping pictures.
Our last stop in Melbourne was the Old Melbourne Gaol, where we took the hangman’s tour. I thought it was a great tour, but it was pretty weird because there were about forty or so people on the tour and we were in the dark, other than our guide who only had a small candle to light the way.
Overall, I loved being in the city of Melbourne, and I’d love to take another trip back there should I ever have the chance. I did pick up on a few cultural differences while we were there.
The first is that the Aussie’s can tell we are Americans, and it’s even more apparent on the trams. We took a tram during rush hour, which was packed, and I could here a few of our group members who were at the opposite side of the tram. All the Aussie’s were either silent or speaking really softly into their phone microphones so no one could hear them speaking.
The second is that I think the Australians are the most friendly bunch of people in the world. One night we went out to a rooftop bar, and a group of Aussie’s invited us to sit down and chat with them and even bought us drinks all night. I honestly can’t think of a single bar in America that I’ve gone to where you would see a complete stranger ask you to join them and buy you drinks all night.
Melbourne overall is a great city with some great people, and if I ever had the chance I would without a doubt come back.