An insider’s guide: How to make Melbourne your home away from home

University of Melbourne international student, Felicia Novina, shares her story on how she made Melbourne her second home.

It was daunting, yet exciting when I first arrived in Melbourne in February last year. I didn’t know a single soul and I have never lived abroad before. I packed my bags and stepped into the unknown. While I knew Melbourne had been awarded the most liveable city in the world five times, the move still frightened me.

I spent my first few weeks getting lost and complaining about the weather, but that has all changed. I love living here, and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. Melbourne has become home.

The best thing to do here is to take a stroll around the city. One turn might bring you to the artistic Hosier Lane, where the walls are covered with incredible street art. Another turn could bring you to Block Arcade, the 19th century shopping arcade (where you should definitely make a stop at Hopetoun Tea Rooms for a sweet treat).

Hopetoun Tea Rooms

Who can resist the temptation of these sweets from Hopetoun Tea Rooms

The best thing about being in Melbourne is you can do the simplest thing and it becomes a new experience. Being a student, there are days when I’m working on my assignments. My favourite place to do this is the State Library of Victoria. It has extensive literary resources, massive reading rooms and a great lawn just outside. And the Dome is pretty awesome. When I need a break from all the work, you will most often find me eating a white chocolate-glazed Belgian waffle from Waffee, while laying down on the State Library Lawn.

Every other night, I venture to Southbank to sip a hot chocolate. It’s just a beautiful place to relax and the mistletoe bridge throughout Christmas was a real favourite!

Waffee

My go-to waffle shop, I love the white chocolate glazed waffle so much!

There are days when the classic student life makes me feel the pinch of a tight budget. Going out seemed expensive at first, but I soon discovered a place called Asian Beer Café, where you’ll find $20 cocktail jugs and three tapas for $12. If you’re in budget mode and in the mood for a movie, go to the artistic Cinema NOVA – it’s only $7 on Monday before 4pm!

Pidapipo

Rewarding myself with my favourite gelato in town

After winding around the city or studying at uni you should reward yourself with a delicious dessert at Pidapipo Gelataria down on Lygon Street. My personal gelato choice is their Mint Choco Chip with Nutella Swirl – it just tastes divine. On a colder day, it might be a good idea to stop by Embla on Russell Street and get cosy while sipping a coffee.

I just love Melbourne despite its crazy weather. You get used to it. What it lacks in weather, it makes up for with extraordinary experiences.