Study Melbourne partnered with Melbourne Writers Festival 2018 to host a storytelling competition for international students. ‘In her stomach a flock of butterflies and bumblebees’ by Ana Jimena Hernandez from Colombia was the winning story in the Vocational Education and Training category.

In her stomach a flock of butterflies and bumblebees

The plane landed at 5 pm in Melbourne. For three days she had had accumulated sensations. Anxiety, emotion, doubts, dreams, fear. She had no idea of everything that was waiting for her. When she saw herself there, surrounded by the unknowing, she wanted to cry, but the tears were few, fatigue overcame her.

The next day she began to doubt that she had done the right thing. She felt lonely, lost, helpless. However, it was impossible to stop admiring everything she was seeing. She began to think that no picture she would take would do justice to the reality that surrounded her.

The months passed, and she did not realize how. Her English classes were her refuge, she spent her days walking by the Yarra river, enjoying the landscape and a cup of coffee, one different each time so as not to refuse to enjoy any.

Her smile was the key to everything. Without realizing it she shared it with everyone she knew and slowly she surrounded herself with people who smiled at her back. She was there, and it was hard to believe. In the mornings and at night she would call home to try to keep her memories alive through them. She used to share everything, every anecdote, every photograph or video, every story, it was so much information, that she knew she needed everyone's memory to not forget anything. Nostalgia invaded her sometimes and her eyes were filled with melancholy.

How is it possible feeling at home in such a distant and different place?

Melbourne rewarded her with art. She spent whole afternoons sitting on Bourke Street enjoying the music. She enjoyed walking among the small lanes within of graffiti and small restaurants, she felt she was someone else, a movie character.

Melbourne made her smile in summer, it left her ecstatic with the sunset at the sea. She was surprise with the multiple festivals, the plans and events of every week. Autumn came to paint her life in orange. Each tone was unexpected, each leaf was a proof that renewing is necessary. She still did not believe it, in her mind reality seemed like a dream and the dream had dragged on long enough to begin to look real.

Winter returned her nostalgia, however, her desire to see that which she always dreamed about and used to see so far away was her motivation. The snow covered her with white and it took away all the dark that she could have accumulated, all that bad energy that unintentionally we humans sometimes share. It is not possible to describe what she felt when she saw it. She wanted to cry but she feared that her tears would cloud the perfect landscape she had at that moment.  

The trees bloomed again, and she began to enjoy a different range of colours. Ana felt the butterflies and the bumblebees. The spring was there. A whole year of experiences, of valuable people and moments that had been settle in to her memory.

Thank you Melbourne!