Melbourne Beginnings: Yokki Ang

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

The start of something magical by Yokki Ang

“May I know if this tram is heading to Royal Parade?”

“Ummm… I think you’ve caught the wrong one… this is 57 to West Maribyrnong.”

“Where on earth is West Maribyrnong… Wait, is Maribyrnong English?” Although the strange suburb name only left me with a massive question mark on my mind and did not help me to figure out the way to my accommodation (where I once resisted calling it home), I still thanked the friendly senior and got off at the next stop. It was already a quarter to ten at night, my phone was dying, and I had no clue about where I was. Winter night in Melbourne was freezing, especially to one that just arrived here from a tropical country and had never experienced any seasonal change in the past 19 years of her life. Anyway, two years later, I found out that tram 57 brings me to my favourite laksa in town.

That was my very first day in Melbourne.

This was how my story began.

I have always wanted to study abroad since I was young. When I first told my parents the idea about coming to Melbourne, my mother showed her supportiveness as usual, yet my father turned me down immediately. “How are you going to live alone? Especially if you are a girl! What if you need help? Who are you gonna ask for?” The typical Asian parents’ nagging. Despite his opposition, I still drafted a plan about every foreseeable concern of his to persuade him. This time, he has softened his attitude and a whole new life that was full of excitement was waving to me. At least I did not expect to have so many late-night bawls under my blanket as I have been on cloud nine with Unimelb’s offer letter in hand.

My first semester was amazing. I met my best friend in Melbourne- Ru Hui and she became my emergency contact now. Our encounter was magical. It was the second day of O-week. I was heading to one of the event venues but, again, I got lost on the enormous campus. When I walked near to a map board and tried to locate myself, the other girl approached the map board as well. “Are you going to the 1888 building?” I summoned up my courage and asked. “Yes! You too?” “Let’s go together! What’s your name?……” This is how our friendship started. Ever since then, we created most of our wonderful memories about Melbourne together and witnessed each other’s growth. We explored the coolest suburbs in Melbourne, checked out the fancy restaurants on our bucket list, visited all the remarkable exhibitions, listened to each other’s random thoughts that popped out of nowhere, felt lost about the future together and ranted about life when nothing seems to go our ways. I really appreciate her presence since the very beginning of the new chapter in my life. Although there was nothing of relevance between the courses we do and we never even had a chance to be in the same class together, the feeling of having someone that got your back was just reassuring.

Life in Melbourne is a thrilling adventure with fascinating landscapes- the magical sunrises and sunsets; the starry night sky.; the stunning St. Kilda beach that doesn’t require a 3 hours’ drive from the city; White Night Melbourne; The Royal Melbourne Show; the easter trip to Grampians National Park, first time driving to the regional suburbs; solo trip in Brisbane; not to mention every single cafe in Melbourne makes such good coffee! All these unforgettable, exciting, novel experiences are what my Melbourne life consists of. The time spent in Melbourne was just like the magical hours in my life. If my life was a rather blank canvas, Melbourne painted it with the most vibrant, uplifting and heart-warming colours she has.

However, moving abroad and living alone was never easy. When Covid hit, suddenly I needed to deal with rental disputes, worry about finding new accommodation and job loss. At the same time, I had no choice but to juggle with three assignments due in a week, classes to attend, chores to do, and still needed to cook for myself, do grocery shopping, manage my stress and anxiety. Oh, and to squeeze some time for Netflix and chill. Now when I look back on my most stressful time in Melbourne, disregard the fact that I cried my eyes out during that period of time, all these have made me grow up faster, nonetheless. I am still proud of myself that I have managed to handle all the struggles and unexpected events in my life and carry on with my daily life simultaneously.

Now, I am already a year 3 student that is still somehow struggling with my uni life between study, work, and personal time. Fortunately, life seems to become better along with some unexpected little spark of joy, and winter in Melbourne seems to be warmer now. What remains unchanged is, I am always looking forward to all the hidden surprises in Melbourne that are waiting for me to be discovered, just like how I first arrived here.

My Melbourne life continues… All the best!