Stashed somewhere in the albums my mother has meticulously compiled over the years is a photograph of me comfortably nestled in my father’s arms with a eucalyptus tree in the background. That, my dear readers, is the only momento I have of having previously been in Australia at the tender age of 3. It comes as no surprise that when the opportunity to travel to Melbourne for an MUN conference cropped up, I grabbed at it with almost no hesitation.
Of course, the thought of missing a whole week and a day of college didn’t exactly seem appealing (and predictably, I’m feeling the effects right now) but it seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up and after catching the travel bug in Italy, I was just itching to embark on another adventure in a foreign land.
Upon reflection, it was truly a blessing to have been able to travel to Australia with an amazing group of people who were tolerant when need be (especially when shopping), candid when relaxed (Bollywood, anyone?), helpful throughout (missing scarves didn’t stand a chance!), and bucketloads of fun. We were accompanied by teacher advisors who were young enough to be mistaken for students, caring enough to walk for ages to get us breakfast, and most importantly, chilled enough to let us enjoy ourselves! :P
A thing I’ve noticed since returning is that the faces of those who attended AMUNC with me are now always easy to pick out in a crowd. Maybe it was the saturated amount of time spent together throughout the week but even so, despite how crowded the stairwell is or how congested the pathways are, I seem to see Rachel, Ian, and Adam (but no Lydia ) a million times more than I did prior to the trip. Law of attraction, maybe?
Current observations aside, Melbourne in winter was a mess of wind and sun, blue and grey skies, naked trees and thick jackets, warm coffee and frequent gelato stops.
Living in a hotel right smack in the midst of the city had its perks. On the walks where I was sleepy enough to stop chattering like a monkey, the sights and smells of Melbourne were lively enough to fill the silence in my head.
From Malaysian influences…
To street performers..
And even protestors… (Lookie, no tear gas in sight!)
Even apart from the conference, new friends were made.
Then there was Bernard, a person who I had only known of online, interacted with solely over Instagram and Draw Something, but who very kindly took all of us on a little tour, taught us some psychological tricks, charmed the pants off all the boys in our delegation, and regaled gory tales of dismembered limbs.
We didn’t have to look far for entertainment though. Within our own delegation itself, there was Adam Tiam, the small boy of the group, current TAYMUN president, and absolutely best person in the world to make fun of.
Before I get to that, the host university of AMUNC 2012 was La Trobe University, which was equipped with a beautiful library that’s so canggih and hi-tech to the point of awe.
Students are able to do their work on gigantic screens plugged to their laptops, which help in group work and sharing, especially when everyone wants to read a webpage. Rather than group over one tiny screen, all can sit back comfortably.
It was particularly useful for another purpose as well..
But hey, who can blame us?
But back to the computers.. Whilst stalking tumblr accounts of beautiful couples with adorable gifs, we were so inspired to attempt reenacting tumblr-like shots.
Like this hilarious gif. which in my opinion, encompasses Lydia and Tiam’s relationship so well!
We tried those hipster couple shots too!
Which ranged from highly questionable..
If only I could handstand..
Visits to Australia aren’t complete without a glimpse of their famed kangaroos!!
The committee kindly arranged a trip for us to visit the university’s wildlife centre.
I loved pandas when I went to China and after returning from Australia, I’m a huge huge fan of kangaroos now! They way they hop around is absolutely adorable omg their tails help propel them in the air and when they hop and jump and look around so confusedly whenever one of us would make a sound was so friggin cute I could die.
Unfortunately, the only koalas we could see were these two..
Whilst the Australian tourist experience was memorable as it was fun, ultimately, we were there for a conference and all six days of it was spent with it being our focus.
It was my first experience with the HMUN format and whilst the debates were so much more dynamic and humorous relative to the Malaysian conference I was at, I prefer definitely prefer THIMUN, with its frequent amendments rather than working papers.
What I learnt from the conference was that it really isn’t easy debating with university students pursuing degrees in International Relations over issues which they clearly knew more about but it would have been a waste to give up as well. Shocker, shocker, I was mostly silent the first few days, intimidated into periodic placard raising rather than my persistent attacks. Thankfully, Lydia and I were in the same committee room and were able to help each other out and have each other’s back when it came to unmoderated caucuses. *phew*
Although at first, we felt somewhat (possibly) alienated due to our race and young age (we were some of the youngest delegates there, equipped with a disgustingly glaring neon yellow tag so we wouldn’t be served alcohol) but after a while, we discovered that the people in the 1st General Assembly were warm, accommodating, and ever so helpful (at least the people I sat in between were!) and I can truthfully say I left learning a lot more about MUN than I would have had I only dared to participate in local conferences.
The topics discussed were about transitional justice in post-conflict situations and humanitarian intervention. As a communist country, it was easier for me to find allies to work with, and as a general principle, I just stuck close to the three Axis of Evils namely Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. :P
And with that, here’s an abrupt ending!
To those who may be interested in MUN, I’m part of the Secretariat for TMUN II, which is a conference that will be held on September 14 – 16 at Taylor’s Lakeside.
More details can be found at www.taylorsmun.org or you could drop a comment if there are any queries!