Melbourne: Straya’s Chicago

As much as I loved traveling Asia, after five weeks I was yearning for familiarity. I wanted something to feel more like home, and Australia did all that for me and more.

Melbourne was the perfect place to start simply because it’s the Australian version of Chicago. This has even been confirmed by Aussie friends who have visited The Windy City, so I’m not just making this stuff up people.

The two cities share the same general vibe, with trendy cafes and shops galore, a river running through, a gorgeous skyline, clean but busy streets, and even an accessible beach.

On top of that, my Melbournian friends made me feel beyond welcome- seriously, from the moment I left the airport to the moment I returned, I was constantly surrounded by wonderful people.

My friend Izzy, who studied abroad at my University this spring, and his sister Hailey, picked me up from the airport and pulled me straight into Australian culture. From kebabs, to craft beers, getting a great view of the city from rooftops, to Golden Gay Times, I had the best first day in Straya.

I spent the next four days with Chloe, a beautiful artsy girl, who I had met on a boat in Vietnam only two weeks prior to my trip to Melbourne, but felt like I had known for forever. Chloe and her roommates opened up their home to me, took me out on the town, and even clothed me since its technically winter in Australia and my shorts and tanks from Asia were certainly not going to keep me warm.

I think what made Melbourne so great was that for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was actually living real life. Chloe took me to the theater, we went out to brunch with the girls, and we sat on her couch eating cheesecake and talking about boys.

See, you start to miss little things like that when you’re constantly exploring something that’s completely new to you.

Melbourne was technically new to me, but somehow, between the friends and the food- it felt like home and I loved it.

Huge shout out to Izzy, Hailey, Chloe, Hannah, Jamila, Tom and everyone in between for the grand time. You’re all stars.