If you are really lucky on a weekend, you might get a table in The Hardware Société (Melbourne’s top brunch café) under half an hour. Otherwise the queuing time can stretch up to a maximum of three hours, but despite the insane wait the place is constantly packed. This is Melbourne! The breeding ground for cafés and restaurants, a foodie’s heaven. You can have up to five different cuisines within a 200m walk along Swanston Street, which is the main stretch of road in the city’s centre. A majority of the international students succumb to the temptations of the delicacies and eventually we all become little food critics, rating and commenting on the restaurants we like or wouldnever- frequent-again.

The word “Urbanspoon” surfaces in our conversations at least once a day. Melbournians take pride in their food and café culture, they even have an app for it – Urbanspoon. We will not go anywhere that is rated less than 80%! #firstworldproblems I’ve been studying in Melbourne for three years. “It’s a dream!” Everyone said it would be and they are right.

There are immense amounts of luxuries and privileges living in ‘The World’s Most Livable City’. University (RMIT) continually inspires, despite being occasionally frustrating and people here are friendly (at least most of the time). However, I occasionally forget to pay bills and sometimes I burn my food… or explode an egg in my oven (once). It was the untold struggles that made me grow up. I was the “ang-mo kuan” (westernised) girl when I was growing up. I watched American television and that shaped my thinking and the way I identified myself. I took pride in the recognition I got for resembling any medium that was considered “international” or “foreign”. Until I came to Melbourne, and I discovered a new sense of security in my own identity – I am Malaysian, totally, fully and wonderfully Malaysian. You know what. I like dropping the ‘lah’ word here and there and mixing multiple dialects and languages into a single conversation. I love the fact that we take off our shoes before entering houses and we have no need for past or present tense when we converse. Wise words from my tutor: “Why try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out.”

The truth about studying overseas is this: Students come from all corners of the world and no, we don’t embark on a series of wild parties every single night or ‘shop till we drop’ every waking hour of the day. We are broke. We live on tight budgets and honestly, we would rather gather at a friend’s place and eat $2 ice cream. We try our best to create the comfort of home. I enjoy Melbourne so much because I found my little ‘Kuching’ in the midst of a bustling city. The thing about us Kuchingites… You can take the person out of Kuching, but you can never take the ‘Kuching” out of the person.

Joyce is an RMIT Media graduate who loves writing, music and all the other things that 21-year olds love. She moved to Melbourne to study but is continually on a journey of learning and experiencing new things in life.


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