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Melbourne Beginnings: Denise Hung

Presented in partnership with Study Melbourne, this annual storytelling competition is open to all international students living and studying in Victoria. This year, entrants were invited to write or create a visual work that shares their Melbourne story.

Winners will be announced at a virtual award presentation ceremony on Thu 21 Oct. Book your place here.


Higher Education Shortlist

A fish out of water by Denise Hung

I was not always a curious child, but I was a fish out of water. My family moved frequently, so friendships did not outlive our stay and were difficult to maintain. I learnt to become my own best company and found solace in nature and food. This is how my story began…

Four years ago, I enrolled myself into a Naturopathy course in Melbourne which slowly branched out to Chinese Medicine. The dietary therapy of Chinese culture had always been in my bones and blood. Unnoticedly, I was always telling others to drink more warm water or keep their feet covered. Little did I know, I was already practicing a form of medicine just by maintaining a daily lifestyle.  There were many moments of becoming the person I am now, and even with the present moment, I am growing. Finding my sense of community in Melbourne has been a continuous effort of staying honest to myself.

Melbourne is a city of possibilities. An infinite opportunity for anyone with odd quirks, silent demeanours and an edge of characters. With its wide range of personalities, I find myself sinking into a melting pot of diversity. One so large, that inclusivity becomes a key ingredient. During the pandemic, I lost all income support and work, the sad stories of an international student struggling overseas soon clouded over my roof. An independent soul who had always found ways to be self-sufficient, I had to face another hurdle: asking for help. And with a long arm stretched barely out of my 5km radius, all the kindness started coming in. Boxes of essential food and vegetables, rental support, utilities bill payment and handwritten letters rekindled with overseas friends. I never felt more welcome and at home in times of crisis. More than ever, if the pandemic has taught me, is always how generous humanity remain and how resilient we can be.

As the city continues to stay afloat this lockdown, I still get help from the community. A surprise grocery box to help me during the week, a kind check-in message from a friend overseas and so forth. I have found ways to give back in return by baking banana bread for my neighbours, holding meditation space for international students and joining volunteering groups to give talks about wellbeing. The value of becoming is not in finding goals, but adapting to the journey and learning to bend with the road.