Natalia Palacio Vasquez won the Vocational Education & Training Category of the 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Love & Melbourne' .

What it feels like to make a dream come true

By Natalia Palacio Vasquez (Colombia)

Two years ago, I began my journey towards a new life, a fresh start far away from my hometown in Medellin, Colombia. Melbourne had been in my mind for many years as something I had wanted to experience and it would bring a smile to my face every time I talked about it. To me, the dream seemed to be very far away and hardly achievable.

As time went by, that desire of being here became stronger and I decided that it was time to make my dream come true, that the time was now and the city that I wanted to pursue, was waiting for me.

The sense of arriving on a different continent, literally on the other side of the world, and taking a step forward into the captivating world of unknown territory made me feel full of life and made sense when I landed in Melbourne.

As a person that enjoys long walks, art, film, different landscapes and has a passion for trying new things, Melbourne has been the perfect fit since my first day here. The city has given me a taste of freedom and a sense of responsibility that I would have never imagined I could achieve. Moreover, there was a glimpse of a challenging process of continuing and evolving in all levels, in which I’m still going through.

The fact that I am part of a multicultural environment, meeting people that come from a wide variety of backgrounds, far countries and different traditions, to me is a privilege and one that Melbourne has given to me and that I experience every day while I’m studying, at my workplace, on the public transport and, finally, with the friends that I’ve made here.

Perhaps the reason why I love Melbourne so deeply is because of the changes that the weather brings. I´ve been through changes during every season enjoying each part of it, from putting a smile on my face to crying when it is necessary and inevitable; but overall, being resilient and grateful for the privilege of being in one of the most liveable cities in the world.

There’s always something on in the city. It only takes a tram to go to the beach, to visit a street full of Italian food, to go to cosy places that serve the best ramen which I totally love, to go to a park, to see the autumn leaves or to simply watch musicians playing on the street in one of the most iconic spots, the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Street.

I always bring my country with me, as a matter of fact, there’s always something in Melbourne that reminds me of home. A song playing in a bar, food that I´ve tried, a friend that I haven´t seen in a long time, even the smell of a rainy day and the beautiful sunrise or sunset that comes after it. Over time, my connection with the city has changed too, and despite the fact that to everyone else, a normal daily routine seems like something without relevance, here every day turns into a story that I share with my friends and loved ones: the day I went camping for the first time in my life down at Torquay; my favourite event in Melbourne, the stunning White Night; the unforgettable road trips along the Great Ocean Road and to the Grampians; and when I got my first job as a professional in Melbourne.

Twelve Apostles

All those moments have given me confidence and filled me with gratitude to keep going with my journey in this country and I make sure to keep them vivid in my mind as a reminder of the decision that I made one day at home. That decision of challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone to experience the world with a different view, to stop hearing other people´s opinions and experiences about how it is to live in Australia and do it by myself, to live it and write my own story.

I love Melbourne because here I have found the opportunity to give the best of me. The teachers, colleagues and managers that I have had in different schools and workplaces have helped me to understand their culture, how the professional environment works and how I can learn from them and at the same time how they can learn from me as we work together despite our differences and find things in common along the way.

I love Melbourne because it has taught me that, when you take risks, the only thing that could happen is you win, that you never make a wrong decision; that perhaps, as a good friend told me once, a decision is only one more stepping stone that allows you to be in the place that you want to be. Maybe that situation takes you on a longer path, but it was a decision that you made by yourself and you should feel proud about it always.

Infinite love for this city.