Student stories: Making a fresh start in Melbourne

FROM overcoming crippling shyness to making positive life changes, Kat Trinh shares her story of her first week in Melbourne. 


The idea of going far away from home and living on my own has been in my head since forever.

Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too many American teen chick flicks filled with the complete and crazy freedom of living independently. Or maybe I’ve romanticised too much about being overseas. All I can remember is excitedly packing 50kg of all the random stuff I could push into my luggage, awkwardly hugging my friends, family and cat goodbye and heading to Melbourne.

Melbourne said hello to me with its cold freezing wind, but back then, it felt like a summer breeze of freshness. The school’s chauffeur picked me up at the airport and I remember curiously looking out the car window with a flood of questions in my head: Why are there so few people? Where are the familiar noises, crazy traffic and streams of motorcycles on the street? What will my roommates be like? Where is my school? I felt like a bird being released from her 20-year cage.

My first week in Melbourne was pleasant; I expected a lot of homesickness and difficulties, but everything passed by smoothly and somewhat lazily thanks to my housemates. They guided me around the city and some of Melbourne’s famous spots; they even took me with them to their hangout places.

The RMIT city campus was so big and beautiful compared to my old campus in Vietnam and the weather was great. I know to some people it might sound ridiculous to say Melbourne’s winter is great, but that’s the advantage of living through a Hanoi winter becasue I can confidently say I love the chilly wind and blue sky of Melbourne.

My problem, however, was not with my surroundings. It was me. I wanted to find out who I was, so I chose to live a completely different life in Melbourne in an effort to change myself and reach out to the world.

In the first week, the different-life-scenario was set, but I didn’t change at all. I still found myself awkwardly standing alone, feeling too shy to start a conversation with anyone at the orientation day. I still refused to exercise in the morning and was too lazy to start doing anything. Procrastination thought: “Hey it’s still just the first week so why work so hard for?”.


I spend a lot of time alone with my camera because I felt too awkward to talk to real humans. Photo: Kat Trinh

It’s weird isn’t it? Being super excited about something, but when you land on the first step of doing it, you get lazy.

Knowing what my problem was, I slowly started to add changes in my life. I started cooking healthy food, exercising, applying for the jobs I wanted to try even though they were not really related to my studies and volunteering.

I went to Sydney alone on my semester break. I’ve made friends with people from all over the world and from all different fields of study.

It’s been two months since I arrived in Melbourne and I can’t say I have managed everything well. The journey has been bumpy and being away from your most loved ones makes it worse, but Melbourne has given me the strength to deal with it and grasp the cooler sides of being an independent kid.

So Melbourne, thank you so far and let’s continue this beautiful adventure together.

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