Shortlisted for the High School Category of the 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Love & Melbourne' .

Falling in love with Melbourne

By Jiaqi (Winnie) Weng

It had already been two months in Melbourne. Our school carried out an excursion in the CBD for year nine international students. I was nervous, but excited, as it was my first time visiting the city. That day, I viewed the unique architecture in Melbourne, and experienced the lovely atmosphere of the city.

Flinders Street Station and traffic

After an hour on the tram, we finally arrived at Flinders Street Station. It is Australia’s first city railway station. Many people pass through this station every day. The iconic clock and the building style are an enormous beauty. Everything is totally different from my home country.

While appreciating the scenery of the CBD, we had to complete the tasks assigned by teachers and find landmark buildings in the city. We ended up finding and drawing the buildings in front of the State Library. We were left with the last task, which was also the most challenging task for me – asking strangers to draw smiley faces on the task paper. It was hard for us, as we were not familiar with the city, and we were afraid of rejection. Standing in front of the Library, we hesitated. Finally, I took a deep breath and decided to try. We looked at to two young men selling caramelised peanuts in front of the Library and walked over to them. They smiled and greeted us. I handed them the paper and asked if they could help us draw a smiley face. They agreed without hesitation and began chatting with us. I told them we were international students from China and explained that it was one of the tasks of the excursion. We thanked them for helping us. What surprised us was that one of them then replied in Mandarin. It was unbelievable for both my friend and I to meet a native Australian, who could speak my home country’s language. He told us that he had learned Mandarin for a long time. He also encouraged us and told us that we didn’t have to worry, we would get used to this new city very soon. Before we left, they also gifted us some caramelized peanuts.

Even though we were strangers, they were hospitable to us and wanted to give us a hand. They shared their kindness with us and gave us support. How friendly! Eating the sweet caramelised peanuts, breathing the fresh air, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and remembering the conversation I just had with those young men, I couldn’t help smiling and feeling happy. Ever since that experience, I have felt like I belong here, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart.