The climb down south

People think that when you’re living overseas, you’re having the time of your life. There’s this notion that life in a first world country is almost like having a permanent vacation, that life inevitably falls into place and burdens are easily lifted. This transition of moving from poor to rich has defined the way people of the 21st century perceive happiness. The disposition of economic conditions across countries has been the demarcation line of how people evaluate their lives.

Where there is wealth, joy will follow.

Well, at least that’s what I thought.

While most people overstate the cause, they belittle the effect. Life abroad isn’t as easy as they think it is. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Living in Australia does have its perks, but not without its share of tribulations.

Acceptance

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It’s difficult to feel fully accepted in a foreign country. Which is why I personally chose La Trobe because they’re welcoming to foreign students and they make things easier for me. After my first semester, I thought I would’ve fully adjusted but somehow I still feel like that transfer student. The student that comes halfway in the semester and sits in one corner while everyone else is mingling. I’m quite thankful La Trobe gives me opportunities to meet new people through school activities.

Language and Context

I didn’t know anything when I first stepped foot in Australia. Not the public transport routes, current news affairs, footy teams, celebrity figures, economic status, prominent journalists, social customs, and party places. I just wanted to be a journalist.

                  I had to learn how to use the word toilet instead of restroom.

                  Bin instead of trash can.

                  Chemist instead of drug store.

                  I had to learn how to spell the word flavor as flavour.

                  Center as centre.

And so in most of my classes in my Media and Communications degree, I’d instantly be lost when professors and other students start talking about the latest trends in news and sports. I wish I could understand what they were talking about. During our group sessions in La Trobe’s editing suites, some of my classmates would make jokes about Collingwood and I just sat there not knowing if I should laugh or smile.

Family

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The most difficult part of life overseas is having to live away from your family. I do have my uncle and his family, but it just doesn’t suffice with life back home. A country I saw through poverty; I now see as treasure.

The days and nights become terrifyingly quiet. There’s no late night eat-outs, sleepovers, out-of-town trips, gatherings, and everyday fuss. Social media becomes your closest taste of what’s happening in the only world that you know of. I’ve spent more time on Facebook in the last few months than I did years ago.

But in the end these sacrifices are the cost of the lives we want to live.

By Haj Songcuya

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