My Melbourne Story

Walking through the streets of Melbourne, one is struck by how enjoyable the journey itself is. Instead of just focusing on the destination, the journey becomes equally as important.

In my home country, car was my main form of transport. The tendency would be to treat the journey as a means of getting from one point to another. I would get into the car and take a nap while I get transported to my destination, with no care for what happens along the way. In contrast, walking along the streets of Melbourne, I cannot help but take in its delightful sights, with its Victorian heritage buildings juxtaposed with modern apartment buildings.

The city becomes a classroom for learning. The bluestone pavements suggest traces of Melbourne’s rich history, the grid planning system is a testament to the foresight of our forefathers. Visiting the Shrine of Remembrance and St Patrick’s Cathedral formed an integral part of our learning, enhancing our course, especially since a Bachelor of Environments (majoring in Architecture) would naturally benefit from site visits around the city and beyond.

The laneways hide Melbourne’s artistic and culinary gems, providing something to be discovered by tourists and residents alike. The iconic Arts Centre and Sidney Myer Bowl make a statement about the prominence afforded to the arts culture, nurturing both established artists and young artists alike.

The classical buildings stand in the city impressively, inspiring awe among tourists and fellow regulars. The State Library is an effective wake me up to us university students making our way to our 9am classes. Coming out from Melbourne Central, the State Library hits you and serves as a reminder to us to appreciate our surroundings more, letting the beauty touch us. Similarly, along St Kilda Road, the Shrine of Remembrance makes itself known from afar, calling visitors to it. Nevertheless, noticing it from afar does not prepare visitors for the impressive walk up its main ramp. One is struck by the awe a building such as this inspires. When I first came to Australia to study, I was not familiar with its history, but Australia’s respect and gratitude to our war heroes can be glimpsed just from the Shrine of Remembrance, with its monumental building and the symbolic act of planting trees for our fallen heroes.

Even the regular commute to university has something new to offer every day. From the carefree skateboarders in Lincoln Square who are passionate about their pursuits, to the bustle of pedestrians walking along the streets, admiring our Victorian buildings. Observing the buildings and people while walking or sitting down becomes a form of contemplative experience, encouraging me to reflect on architecture, cities and life in general.

There is a certain sublime quality in embracing your city and considering your place in it. On one hand, Melbourne’s rich history gives us a sense of grandeur and identity. On the other, this is balanced by innovative and modern skyscrapers that demonstrate Melbourne’s advancement. The intricate web connecting buildings of various points in time form an integral part of the character and identity of Melbourne. Experiencing the city, there might be a tendency to feel insignificant compared to the vast network of buildings surrounding us. However, at the same time, there is a drive to take on our role as architects and planners, ensuring that the city of Melbourne will continue being the great city it is, to be enjoyed by many generations to come.

It is a refreshing change when one has the presence to take note of one’s surroundings, embracing everything from the architecture to the various people running their day to day lives in the city. For those of you who have not experienced this aspect, or have not experienced it in a while, I urge you to give it a try. Keep those phones in your pockets, look up and around you, notice the changes in heights and styles of various buildings; listen to the sounds of the streets, from the chatter of pedestrians, to the hum of engines and the rustle of leaves; feel the gentle wind on your face; feel the bluestone pavements, the gravel of the roads, and the crunch of leaves under your feet. Heighten your senses and feel the city as you make your way to your next destination. Above all, enjoy the city of Melbourne – as I had the pleasure to countless times.

Clarybelle Loi's story was the winner in the Higher Education Category: By international students studying at university.