What have you done since your hotel management degree?
“I’m now working in high-end retail and I definitely still want to do my master’s degree. But tuition fees are high in Australia so I may go elsewhere. My decision also depends to some extent on my partner, who has applied to study a master’s in Europe because he has dual citizenship – half Italian, half Australian. I have also looked into studying in Europe and it is relatively cheap. Also, it’s only a one-year degree so if he does get into university in Milan or Amsterdam, I might go with him.
“I’m happy with my life here but I’m always planning at least five years ahead. I am still holding a work visa, which limits my opportunities. This is because some companies don’t want to risk making the investment in someone who may not be around permanently, which I understand. Bigger cities like Sydney or Melbourne offer opportunities to go higher. I need to figure out how I can apply for permanent residency or if I want to study, to apply for a student visa. These are all things I need to figure out at this stage.”
Do you have advice for other Chinese students thinking about studying abroad?
“Firstly, I would tell them not to be afraid. Don’t be constrained by your own cultural norms and be open-minded to embrace the culture shock, the cultural differences. It’s going to be very hard at the beginning. However, when you put yourself out there to fully understand their culture, Australia is a very friendly place to live. And I think that’s not just Australia.
“Being Chinese, I know how they will think. They may be afraid to put themselves out there, afraid of challenges. But in Australia or any other country in the world, you have to be independent and that’s the big step. I cried many times the first year, but after a while, you adjust, and it can be an unforgettable experience. Now it’s common for people to say things to me based on their stereotypes of Chinese people – ‘wow, are you Chinese? I thought Chinese people can’t express their emotions like that!’
How did that make you feel?
“That made me realise that there’s a big gap between China and the rest of the world. I think we have to fix it, those of us who have been overseas and can truly understand the problem. The more I spend time overseas, the more I love my own country. I really want to use my own skills in social media or whatever to show the rest of the world how beautiful China is.
“The negative perceptions are often caused by a lack of understanding. There are always reasons, and seeing the reasons behind the problem helps you understand better. People are wrestling with negative thoughts about China because they don’t know the reason behind it. The one-child policy is a good example of this. And I think this needs people who see both sides to play an intermediate part, to connect China to the rest of the world. And that’s my dream – that’s what I want to do.”
“If my partner could land a job in China I would be more than happy to go back. I really want to experience the changes because China is being developed so fast. I feel like it would be such an honour to be a part of it, to actually witness the whole country developing – in Australia things change slowly because it’s a well-developed country. It’s something that me and my partner have to think about, but for me, I love China, so I don’t mind going back.”
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