Study Melbourne partnered with Melbourne Writers Festival 2018 to host a storytelling competition for international students. ‘Finding My Place in Melbourne’ by Zhao Yang from China was shortlisted in the Higher Education category.

Finding My Place in Melbourne

Myself – it is an invisible thing which only can be reflected by the other thing it interacts with, like a city, some people and some new experience. Once we found ourselves, we will find our place.

For me, Melbourne is a place with multi-faces – each part of this city represents a different personality. It is really hard to meet all of its “faces” in one day, but they can be explored by meeting different people, or simply let yourself comfortably “getting lost” in Melbourne.

I found Brunswick and Sydney Road from one of my cool friends who loves skateboard, gang films, and bands from his youth back in Italy. I heard that if you walked along Sydney Road, you would reach Sydney at the end of this journey; which makes me love this long road for one more reason. I’ve tried my first felafel and browsed my first Italian grocery store here. By keep walking in here, I can see African Music Bar and self-design jeans store with Vietnamese tailors – Dejour Jeans. As my impression to my friend, this region is like the “cool kid” side of Melbourne. I may never have known I would enjoy independent bands and shredded jeans before I discover this “cool kids” side of Melbourne.

I’ve known Fitzroy through the angles of two artistic friends. They all told me they love Fitzroy for no reason. I walked through different lanes with my camera and captured their favourite routes. For no more reasons, I also loved to spend an afternoon in here with those unknown lanes with street-arts, unexpected boutiques, and even those colourful Victorian-style houses. Fitzroy is like the “free artist” side of Melbourne, where everyone can feel free to express their perceptions towards arts and amaze by the self-defined beauty – it can be street art or a bike randomly parked in somewhere.

Until now, I still keep the habit as a tourist – always hold my phone and standby for catching some pictures on my daily journey. I call those random pictures “the highlight moment” of my day. One of my international student friends told me, even she stayed more than two years in Melbourne, she still cannot get rid of this “tourist habit.” I thought the reason could be we like to expect something new happen in every day.

Since I moved to Melbourne, I’ve always had the mood of discovery. Those highlight moments and new experience I had in this city can reflect my new interests, perceptions and different sides of me. I prefer to say this ongoing journey of “expecting and capturing the new impacts” as “the discovery of myself.”

In the past one year, I found that I become more frequently to say “I will never know something about myself, if I didn’t do this.” The new thing I experienced can be something big, but can also be something as small as my new lifestyle.

I found that when I left Melbourne for the holidays, I will miss the coffee and start digging the local café. I noticed that the importance of respecting girls’ power when I joined the march of Women’s day and yelled in front of State Library for girls as a strong community; as well when I sit in a “#me-too” seminar in Human Rights Film Festival. I start to look forward to outdoor activity, the weekend is not just for shopping and cinema, but also for exercise, picnic, beach, and sea.

I was touched by people who care for my different ideas and opinion, in the classroom, in a theatre workshop, in student programs. I grew up and spent over 20 years in China. Before I started my new life chapter in Melbourne, I believe that some values and perceptions may not be changed merely because of living in another country. However, today, they all changed somehow in a
more complete way.

In the first semester in Melbourne, I found it really difficult to find my place in this city with my strong cultural background – I thought I did not belong to any communities and felt nervous and self-conscious in this new environment. However, as time goes by, I find that finding my place in somewhere is also discovering myself in this context. I need not be in any named community or culture, but I can explore my different possibilities through the different sides of this city.

Indeed, Melbourne is a place where can motivate people to discover different possibilities in every period of their life. Be a cool kid, at the same time you can also be a free artist, a coffee lover, and a feminist; there is no conflict among your possibilities. One can belong to diverse communities and culture, overall, we all belong to Melbourne.