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Live and learn: Things you can do in Carlton

Connie Foong

Fri Jul 22 2011

Melbourne city

UNIVERSITY life isn’t just about passing exams. It’s also the best time to explore your secret interests and hidden passions. Connie Foong shows you don’t have to look very far to begin.

You often hear people say university life will probably be the best years of your lives. Is it really? It can be hard to see that in perspective if all you’ve experienced so far are lectures, assignments and exams – and the dreaded cycle repeats itself all over again the next semester.

So how do you expand your horizons? Dig deep and think about those secret interests and passions hidden inside you somewhere. For some, it’s the desire to learn a new exotic language. For others, it’s about tapping into your creative side. But whatever it may be, now is the best time to do it.

Most universities offer short courses you can take during the semester, and students generally receive concession rates, so that’s a good place to start looking. We suggest you look around your neighbourhood too, and discover the myriad of opportunities for learning on offer. It’s also a good change of environment, for those who would rather not spend a minute more on campus, and relish the idea of meeting new people.

We begin with Carlton this week.

Centre of Italian Studies

The Centre of Italian Studies is housed in two Victorian terraces and is befittingly located in the heart of Melbourne’s “Little Italy” on Cardigan St.

Courses on offer are suitable for beginners through to advanced learners, be it for work purposes, travel or just pure personal interest. Other pluses include a flexible timetable you can work around your schedule, and many of the Centre’s teachers are native speakers.

A standard course ($289) consists of 1½ hour-long classes held once a week over a 10-week period. The more ambitious might like to undertake the semi-intensive course ($499), which will enable you to complete two levels in just 10 week – but this also means committing to a three-hour class each week.

The third term has just begun, and ends September 24, and the fourth term goes from October 10 to December 17. Another option is the one-week spring intensive course ($289) which will run from October 3to 7. Classes are held everyday, from 10 am to 1 pm.

If you prefer a one-on-one setting, CIS also organises private lessons for all levels, and can be held at the Centre itself or in the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Even better, why not consider a study trip to Italy? The centre organises Study Holidays to eight different locations, where you can immerse yourself completely in Italian culture and learn the language hands-on.

For those who need to budget, do note that course materials are not included in the fees, and you will need to purchase textbooks and workbooks which are available from the Centre’s bookshop.

Centre of Italian Studies, 247-249 Cardigan St, Carlton. Phone: (03) 9347 9144. Email:


The Centre of Italian Studies isn’t the only language school for those looking to learn the language. Co.As.It is a not-for-profit welfare agency for Italian migrants and Australians of Italian descent, and provide an Italian language program as part of its services.

Like CIS, classes are available for beginners, through to intermediate and advanced. The classes are conducted in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Students can take advantage of discounted fees as well. Classes run for ten weeks each term, for two hours per week, and costs $242 ($220 with discount). Materials are not included in the cost.

Co.As.It also organises study tours to Italy, so if you can, take the opportunity to step into a different culture and make the learning experience a more interactive one.

Co.As.It, 189 Faraday St, Carlton. Phone: (03) 9349 9000. Email:

Melbourne Acting Academy

Those with serious aspirations towards acting or voiceover work might like to explore the short courses offered at this acting school. General courses include screentest workshops where there will be opportunities to meet casting directors. There are also Meet the Directors workshops, where students can gain hands-on experience with leading film and television directors. Specialised courses for voiceover techniques are available for those keen on developing their talents in the voiceover industry.

The Academy also offers a full-time course for dedicated thespians seeking comprehensive training in the industry. Auditions for next year’s intake will be held in February, with applications closing in January 2012.

Fees for the full-time course are $11,500. Screentest workshops are $78, while Meet the Director workshops are $88. The voice over technique workshops cost $550.

Melbourne Acting Academy, 73-81 Cardigan St, Carlton. Phone: (03) 9038 8054. Email:

Confucius Institute (University of Melbourne)

The Confucius Institute, as its namesake suggests, is a centre of education for Chinese language and culture.

The Institute offers a range of language classes, and is open to the public. Whether you are a beginner or want to brush up on your Mandarin, there are different levels which you can enrol in. The language programs are $300 and are inclusive of all course materials. (Alumni are eligible for a 10 per cent discount, and returning Confucius students receive 15 per cent off).

For those who are interested in exploring Chinese culture, there are Chinese calligraphy classes where you can learn both to write as well as distinguish the various calligraphy styles. Chinese painting classes give students a practical introduction to the art of Chinese painting. You’ll also be able to pick up painting basics as well as explore important themes in Chinese art, such as birds, flowers and landscapes.

Calligraphy classes are on Mondays, from 6 to 8pm, while painting classes are conducted on Thursdays, from 6 to 8pm as well. Both programs run for seven weeks and cost $250 each, including materials.

Tai Chi classes are also offered at the Institute, and cost $77. They are held on Thursdays, 12 to 1 pm, and 1 to 2 pm.

Check the timetable for detailed class times.

Confucius Institute, 172 Bouverie St, Carlton. Phone: (03) 9035 8203

Mangala Studios of Yoga and Creative Dance

If you grew up in the late 90s, you might remember Baz Lurhmann’s ‘The Sunscreen Song’. The inspirational spoken word song was taken from Mary Schmidt’s article (a commencement speech which went viral then) and a memorable part of it goes like this: “Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

It’s a quote that comes to mind when we think about Mangala Studios.

Mangala specialises in yoga, and offers creative dance as well. The studio has developed its own unique style since it was established in 1970. There are also diploma courses on offer for those looking to teach dance.

There are different levels and a range of yoga and creative dance programs you can choose from. Yoga and dance are $18 for a single class, but you may want to consider buying dance passes valued at $85 for five classes (valid for eight weeks), or $160 for 10 classes (valid for 13 weeks). Concession rates are available for students, so do take advantage of the discount.

Alternatively, sign up for one term of unlimited classes for $260 (concession $215.15). You can check out the studio’s timetable online.

On a separate note, Mangala also offers tai chi classes and ink brush painting for those interested in traditional Chinese brush painting.

Mangala Studios of Yoga and Creative Dance, 73 Grattan St, Carlton. Phone: (03) 9663 5603. Email:

No more excuses now, to say you’re bored! Tell us too, in the comments sections below, what passions and interests you would like to explore.