Study Melbourne partnered with Melbourne Writers Festival 2017 to host a storytelling competition for international students. ‘Victorian Experience I will never forget’ by Anna Faciejew from Poland was shortlisted in the English Language Training category.

Victorian Experience I will never forget

I lived with my Australian boyfriend Robert for two years before we decided to move to Australia. I am usually not a fearful person, but my God I was hesitant about this one. Despite many comforting and reassuring words, it was very hard to forget the images of giant spiders hanging off every possible surface and snakes sleeping inside toilets, which at the time I thought happens in Australia on a daily basis. After a couple months of packing up my life into 27kg suitcases, saying goodbye to friends and family, and few unreasonable panic attacks I found myself sitting on a plane to Melbourne, thinking whether I will ever be able to make it my new home.

We arrived on a rainy Monday morning but to my surprise the city didn’t seem grim. Streets were filled with colourful murals, posters and original shop windows. It smelled like freshly burnt coffee beans and wherever I went I could hear rings of trams. That day I had a chance to have a brief conversation with an elderly lady in a bookstore. She couldn’t understand what title I was after, so I left without a book and with an unpleasant feeling of being an outsider. My boyfriend was bending over backwards to show me the best of Melbourne. We went to the State Library, Botanical Gardens, and to arguably the most hipstery café in the most hipstery suburb, but it wasn’t until Saturday that he managed to succeed.

All I knew about footy back then was that it used to wake me up at 4am for the “Grand Final”. This Saturday, we walked down the Yarra River all the way to the MCG at a civilized time. It was a crisp but sunny day and the stadium looked just stunning. The crowd of 85,000 people in colourful jerseys loudly applauded players running onto the field and shortly after the game started. There were a lot of goals, points, pushing and jumping accompanied by clapping and yelling of the crowd. The game was very even, exciting and at the end decided by less than a goal, which left fans of both teams very fired up. To my surprise all the emotion disappeared with a final siren and fans of both teams left the ground, side by side, without the presence of police or security.

This experience hasn’t changed my life but it made me realise that sport in Victoria is a beautiful concept that creates a united society that shares the same passion and values.

For these 3 hours people from different backgrounds can feel like they are an equal part of something bigger. As for footy itself, I think it is the most exciting game that’s there and it helped me find my place in Melbourne.