It’s MEL-buhn, not Mel-BORN

Landing in Melbourne the second time ― the first time was an eight-hour layover before my flight to Perth ― was a relief because I was stuck in a narrow window seat, slowly being crush by both the man beside me and the built-up anticipation for what was to come.

And what was to come was honestly amazing.

Outfit | Food | Sites | Architecture | People | Miscellaneous | Takeaway

The Outfit(s)

Melbourne fashion is amazing.

Of course, you get your average, run-of-the-mill outfits in Melbourne (as you do in any city), but I really feel like even those outfits are great. The big fashion trend in Melbourne is to wear whatever the eff you want and it seriously works. There are no go-to styles that run rampant in the city; everyone is doing their own thing and doing it well. The second biggest fashion trend is to layer, which, as a seasoned citizen of Canada, I happen to be very good at. #winter #layers #cardigansfordays

But seriously, there are times when I wear an outfit that, in Calgary, I would feel pretty good about wearing that just don’t cut it here. Just gotta step up my fashion game, I guess.

Goal before I leave Australia: be able to pull of either a cashmere cape/poncho or to pull of a mrop mop (male crop top, duh).

The Food

This conversation happened between a friend and I a few days ago:

her: oh my god, all the food there looks amazing!
me: that’s because I don’t instagram or snapchat when I’m eating at mcdonald’s

Now, to be fair, my first impression of the food here is that it is amazing. Everything from my morning ― and afternoon… and evening ― coffee (which needs it’s own post, you know?) to the toasties I consume on the daily is delicious and mouth-watering. I would even go as far as to say that I have found the best latte in the entire universe here (shoutout to Padre in the South Melbourne Markets).

The biggest contribution to how great the food is here would probably be how fresh everything is. As my friend pointed out after her first grocery trip: most everything you buy here is made in Australia. Though it makes sense given their relative geographical isolation, it’s still cool knowing that food I’m eating today is probably made from ingredients harvested just a few hundred kilometers away.

Whatever the secret is, I’m (obviously) excited to dig in to more Melbourne grub all in the name of research.

I haven't had a single bad cup of coffee here.
I haven’t had a single bad cup of coffee here.
I have never had a better veggie burger tbh.
I have never had a better veggie burger tbh.

The Sites

From the beautiful Yarra River, to the rustic laneways and dazzling arcades, to (what seems like) hundreds of beautiful parks, Melbourne sites are BOMB. From what I’ve seen (about 0.00001% of everything I need to see), Melbournites are spoiled when it comes to choosing places to take their visitors, significant others’, and the occasional international exchange student looking for someone to go on adventures with (ahem).

My absolute favourite thing about the sites in and around Melbourne is that if you just pop into the Visitor Centre at Federation Square (not Confederation Square, as someone pointed out. Sorry, my Ottawa is showing), you’ll see walls lined with brochures, maps, and tour information regarding all the things to do! I was also told that they have volunteers who offer to take visitors out on a tour of the city for free! Just make sure to buy them an amazing cup of coffee when the tour ends!

This is terrifying, I know.
This is terrifying, I know.

The Architecture

Y’all know that I love me some architecture. Let me just get real about Melbourne architecture for a second: it’s a beautiful mix of new world architecture and contemporary styles. There are houses here that take my breath away and highrises here that make me poop my pants.

The residential architecture here, from where I’ve been and where I’ve lived (4 different places in a month!), is very different from places back home. Different even from neighbourhoods in Perth. On one end, their older homes seem like they’ve come straight out of late-19th century England, which makes total and complete sense. However, seeing such ornate ironwork and mesmerising arcades on houses is still such a wonder. Their newer homes are a modern take on the prairie style (can you hear the squeals coming from my mind right now?), complete with red brick (or beige stucco), horizontal wood panels, and low-pitched roofs. They also have examples of everything in between and, honestly, they are just as great to look at.

The older highrises in the city are constructed with stone or brick and are beautiful examples of classical and neoclassical architecture. There are some gothic buildings thrown in as well, just to shake things up. Walking up and down the streets of the city has been one of my favourite things to do over the last month as I get lost in the columns, pediments, and ornate stonework present in the older buildings. Unlike many Canadian cities (with the exception of oldies like Montreal and Quebec City), Melbourne’s whole CBD is dotted with historic buildings.

Usually, I am not a huge fan of modern and contemporary highrises because they tend to look the same. Melbourne’s architects have completely turned my views of contemporary buildings on its head as they’ve designed buildings with cool facades, great stories, and weird materials. I don’t even have the knowledge to talk about these buildings (as many of you know, I’m way more of an architectural history buff), but that’s not gonna stop me from appreciating them and educating myself on them in the future!

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The People

Alright, brace yourself because this is gonna be a slightly less-optimistic impression of Melbourne than the rest of them have been.

People in Australia are not as nice as they are in Canada. This is a general blanket statement, of course, but from what I’ve seen over the last month, that’s the only conclusion I can come up with.

People in Australia are still very nice people but, as a whole, there seems to a be just a smallest thing off in comparison to Canadians. Maybe it’s because the service is just a taaadd bit more forced, or because my usual hangouts (cafes, shopping centres, etc) stress people out ― I mean, who doesn’t get stressed out making coffee for people who expect the best? ― but I think my friend hit it right on the head when she said that “Canadians are too scared to start shizz.” We generally don’t get lippy, we err on the side of being too polite when it comes to customer service, and we usually feign fault (I’ve said sorry to someone who has bumped into me more than a few times in my life).

Again, this is just a general impression of Aussies and it’s by no means making my time here any less eye-opening! In fact, I have also met some amazing people here (including family members that I didn’t know I had!) and they completely make up for any less-than-polite people I’ve met here.

New friends at school!
New friends at school!
Cousins all spiffed up!
Cousins all spiffed up!

The Miscellaneous

  • Shopping: The shopping here is pretty… different. Not worse, per say, but definitely different. The stores (aside from international retailers like H&M and Uniqlo) are completely different and even after many shopping trips, I still find myself having a difficult time navigating the retail terrain. From what the shopping I’ve done, however, I can say that I’m a pretty big fan of Cotton On and Muji! Though still international retailers, we just don’t have them in Canada so they’re new to me!
  • School: I’m sure many of you know I’m here in Melbourne as part of an exchange. If not, surprise! The school that I am attending here is a TAFE, which seems very similar to a trade and polytechnic school back home (makes sense, right?) and these past two weeks of classes have been super eye-opening! They put more focus on different aspects of the architectural process here and, to top it off, they’re working on buildings that we haven’t even touched on back home, so all I can say is that this is gonna be interesting. Fun and educational, but also interesting.
  • Transportation: Public transportation in Melbourne is amazing. There are a million train, tram, and bus lines that will take you anywhere and everywhere (mostly). The Public Transport Victoria phone app is also super great and makes travelling so much easier (trust me on this… I’ve used it while less than sober).

The Takeaways

  • Melbourne is an amazingly alive city with so many things to do, places to see, and food to eat. I’m super excited to try it all out!
  • School is gonna be tough, but I’m confident I can fight my way through any adversities to my progress (as I always have).
  • With every single day that passes, I feel my future in Melbourne solidifying. After I leave, I know I’ll be back!

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