Integrating into local life

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Gary Yin, 25 years old, a Chinese boy in Australia. Now he is major in Marketing at University of Technology, Sydney. He came to Sydney just about two years but he has already decided to settle down in Australia.

The portrait of Gary (Photo:Cassie Zhao)

As for International students, is it difficult to melt into local life?

When first asked about this question, he said: most of the people may think there are many difficulties, the difficulties do exist. However, the situation is not so horrible.” He thinks that choose to study abroad is not only means to study in another country but also means to choose another lifestyle.

The common impressions of Chinese students are unassertive and hard-working. They gather together and do not like to communicate with other people. But Gary got to make a range of local friends through his part-time job and his hobbies.

Although studying in Sydney just for two years, he had done for more than 10 kinds of part-time jobs. The delivery driver of Dominos, car mechanic, a staff of insurance company, he tried to work in the local company to improve his spoken English. His accent is pure and communicates freely just like local people. Although the time since he been into Australia is short, he adapted himself well enough into the country.

This boy looks gentle and quiet. But, one of his hobbies sounds really crazy.

“Car is my life.”

26th May 2017.

This Friday night is different to Gary, at this time before, he might drive his car to the Royal National Park on the mountain to take part in the car meeting. At that place, various modified cars from the whole Sydney would be shown off. It is a grand event and huge underground party to him. “Modifying cars is my hobby,” he says, “I also made a lot of friends from there.” He also told me most of these car fans are local people, a small range is from Japan, Taiwan and other places. They made jokes with each other and drive their cars over the speed limitation on the mountain road. However, this kind of car meeting was banned by the government. So he had nothing to do on Friday evening.

“As for me, the best method of integrating into local life is to make friends with local people, I feel lucky because my hobby provides me an opportunity.”

He bought a second-hand car which was imported from Japan. The car has a high-powered engine and after buying it, he modified the exhausting system,  air intake system and the outlook of the car. Some staffs from the modifying mechanic became his friends and introduce his car to a magazine, the magazine shoots a series of pictures for his car and publish it. “It was really exciting for me because my efforts were accepted by the authority.”

Gary’s car in a magazine (Photo: Matt McCamley, Street Cover)
The photographer is shooting Gary’s car (Supplied: Gary Yin)

He also said that China is a country without car culture, the government has strictly banned the high-powered and modified cars. However, Australia is like a paradise because some of the modifying are legal and the government does not intervene much, furthermore, the price of a car is lower than China.” That’s one reason I like here,” he said, “to experience the difference between the cultures is an interesting thing, you may feel the shock all the time.”

However, this rainy Friday night he had nothing to do, after 45 minutes’ driving, Gary arrived his home at the southwest of Sydney where is far away from his school, UTS. “I don’t like the noisy place so I choose to rent a house there.”

“Try to settle down in another country do not make me feel strange.”

Gary’s Cat (Photo: Gary Yin)

Home is a warm place for him, “the meaning of home is not the place where you stay, it is where you can find the belongingness.” The first week he arrived in Australia, he bought a ragdoll named Fat Dragon. The pet is like his family member here, “Even at midnight I miss my family, I do not feel lonely because I have his accompany.”

He tried so many things to tailor to the city, to the culture, but, have him considered that he had already adapted to the local life?

He also pointed out some barriers when joining in the local lives. The language is the main one. Lots of students do not confident at communication,which cause they far from local lives. Another point he mentioned is the lifestyle. Gary mentioned that the local people prefer to live a healthier life that they sleep early and get up early at morning. And they care more about the body practice. However, some international students always focus on the games and night clubs. This is also one essential difference between the lifestyles of local people and international students.

Some suggestions

He suggested that if someone would like to join the local lives, it is better to have some brilliant ability at speaking English. Because speaking is the basic method of communicating with others in Australia. He also shared his method of practicing English speaking. He always tried to sing the English songs and would like to listen to the BBC channel. All these methods may help him improve his English speaking. Another important thing when facing local people is that he suggest being confidence even if you can not speak very good English. But that does not matter, the local people just care about whether you indeed try to talk with them. Thus, he suggested that if you would like to join yourself into the local lives, it is essential to be very confident at communication with others.

A Survey of Australia government shows that China owned the largest number of overseas students in Australia and the number is rising every year. Gary is just one of those overseas students, they study abroad and live alone. No matter what original intentions they have to go abroad for further study, they make the same choice and can not look back. They feel lonely, they experience the different life and struggled. Integrating into local society is a compulsory course for all the overseas students even if it has a long process.

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