Melbourne Beginnings: Claudia Viloria

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.

Vocational Education & Training Shortlist

Melbourne, my home away from home by Claudia Viloria

It was on the 5th of February of 2019 when I arrived in Melbourne. In less than 12 hours it rained,  then the sun came up right after, and the wind picked up three kinds of weather in one day! My  new housemates seemed to be annoyed about it but Melbourne’s weather is one of the reasons  why I love it, and I knew it from my first day. This is how my story began …

Before my trip, everyone used to ask why I was moving overseas. My attempt at a straightforward answer was “I want to improve my English”. However, this was only an excuse for me to start a soul-searching journey in the city I had dreamt of since 2015.

I was already in love with the city way before I arrived. But don’t get me wrong, I did struggle when I first landed. One of the first challenges I faced, which still catches me in funny and sometimes stressful situations, was being on time and in the correct spot to catch the transport.

Let me give you more context; before I moved to Australia, I lived my entire life—28 years—in a  small Colombian city where in 40 minutes you can reach the opposite side of it and I had everything I needed from a walking distance.

Once in Melbourne, when I was working as a domestic cleaner, I sometimes had to catch different kinds of public transport during the day. Sometimes I would arrive at the bus stop just in time but miss my tram or train. On those days, I would cry with frustration.

Nevertheless, I soon found that my challenges with transport – which were highly influenced by my terrible sense of location – and my exhausting job at the time did not sway my affection for this city. After just 5 months I already knew that I wanted to stay longer.

I never thought I would find a home so far away from home, and honestly, I came here thinking that loneliness would bring me back to Colombia. However, I met amazing human beings who  made me realise that I wasn’t alone.

I will never forget the celebration of my 30th birthday in the South Melbourne beach with my friends or the afternoons we have spent in the State Library, my favorite building, reading books, or just staring at the architecture of its high ceilings.

Melbourne is where my story overseas began; it has given me the chance to find a new path as a professional and individual; it is the place where I proved myself that I was capable of living an independent life. Melbourne has seen me grow, has taught me that we rise by lifting others, and has given me a life story I will be proud of telling to my grandsons and granddaughters if I have them some day.