The face of the CBD

Being a 28-year-old Chinese Australian with three tertiary degrees, CBD resident Wendy Liu could very well be the face of Melbourne’s CBD.

The latest census shows 38.4 per cent of Melbourne CBD residents have Chinese ancestry. The median age in the CBD is 26 and 57.8 per cent of residents are tertiary educated (read the story on page 1).

Ms Liu said the CBD’s Chinese population was growing so quickly that native Chinese-speakers did not have to speak English to survive.

“My parents don’t speak any English and when they came to visit me they were able to get around easily because there are many people speaking Mandarin here,” she said.

The 2016 census shows 30.7 per cent of CBD residents speak Mandarin at home.

She said the never-ending festivals and events in the CBD also made it easy for newcomers to adapt to the new culture.

“I’m settling down in the new culture quite well, even though I’m still finding my place,” she said.

“Here in the CBD I get to eat Chinese food and speak Mandarin a lot, so I remain very connected to the Chinese community.”

Ms Liu said the CBD has changed dramatically over the years she had been here.

“When I arrived here five years ago, there were not as many Chinese people as today. Now when I walk along Swanston St, it’s like walking in Wangfujing in Beijing,” she said, likening the bustling Swanston St to Beijing’s busiest shopping strip.

“It’s so busy in the CBD that I can easily bump into someone I know,” she said.

Ms Liu came to Melbourne from Beijing five years ago and studied engineering and management at the University of Melbourne and later MBA at RMIT University.

Having completed her undergraduate in engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology and played the piano and percussion professionally, Ms Liu is a high achiever.

After six rounds of competitive interviews, she won the 2017 Telstra Retail Graduate award, which comes with an 18-month program for graduates to explore and enhance skills in areas such as business, IT and engineering.

To Ms Liu, there is no better place to live or work other than the city.

She has been living in the CBD for the past two years and said the location was a helpful boost to her work and social life.

“My apartment is so close to work, to restaurants and to my friends,” she said.

“I hate public transport and it’s wonderful I can walk everywhere in the CBD. I feel very comfortable here.”

She said one of the perks of vertical living was being near friends and neighbours.

One of her good friends lives in the same apartment building and she gets to socialise with friends frequently because everyone is within five minutes’ reach.

“I think because we live so close together, friendships can really develop. I didn’t know the friend living in the same building very well before, but we’ve now become really close friends because we see each other almost every day,” Ms Liu said.

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