By Yu Tan
Like many other Chinese students who choose to further their studies in Australia, Guang Yang, 23, decided to embark on a new adventure after he completed his bachelor degree in English at Chi Zhou University.
He is now in his second semester studying postgraduate journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney. While he says life in Australia is not easy, he describes it as “full of fun and challenge”.
“To be honest, the reason I chose English as my major in college was to set a good foundation for my further study abroad,” he says.
In fact, it is getting more common for Chinese students with good English skills to seek higher education in English-Speaking countries. Australia has been a hot choice in recent years for beneficial policies and flexible academic requirements; the number of Chinese students in Australia has doubled in the past few years.
“Except for me, almost everyone in my family had been to Australia before; in addition, one of my aunts is a teacher in Queensland. You can imagine that everything I heard about Australia is complimentary so it was really hard for me not to choose Australia as my destination,” Guang says.
It is not easy for a foreign student to adapt to a new environment, he says. Language and cultural differences are the most common problems that most Chinese students worry about. However, what really bothered Guang was the driving in Australia, “All vehicles keep to the left side of the road, and it really bothered me as we all drive to the right side in China.” But other than that, he really likes the people here, saying friendship is “simpler” with “not so much scheming against each other”.
But racial discriminations against Asian students – still seen in the news and real life – is difficult. Although Guang has not yet been involved in these issues, unfortunately some of his friends and classmates have suffered from this problem.
Could discrimination stop some Chinese students coming to Australia? “Not necessarily,” Guang says. He believes most local residents are friendly to Chinese or other foreign students. As Australia has always had a multi-cultural population, he says cultural pluralism helps reduce the incidence of discrimination to some degree.
Guang says he finds the most challenging thing is the “academic rigor”. While he accepted the easier environment he got used to in China, he feels the necessity to set a higher standard for himself to meet the requirements here.
“A lot of my Chinese friends and classmates always find themselves unprepared for the assignments and other tasks here. The only solution is to improve yourself, build a rigorous learning attitude.
“I’m still a rookie in this field; journalism requires far more than just language,” he says. Although Guang majored in English in his undergraduate degree, he feels his language skills aren’t good enough for his study and practice in Australia.
However, he has found UTS Insearch has been a great help to him. He says he learnt a lot during the 10 weeks’ preparatory study there; it helped him improve his English and also assisted him adapt to a new environment.
In addition to his work as a postgraduate student, Guang also works at a local seafood restaurant, a working experience he thinks has helped him to build a sense of duty.
“Patience and punctuality are two most important things that I learnt from my work, and it also affects my studying attitude in a good way.”
One of his friends says, “Guang really knows how to enjoy his life.” He has travelled a lot. It is said in a Chinese proverb that “traveling thousands of miles is better than reading thousands of books”. Guang says travelling to different places gives him some totally fresh ideas.
Being a journalism student means having to keep an eye on the hot topics. Guang is interested in the recent Ice Bucket Challenge where participants help raise money for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Guang does not pay attention to the belief that the challenge is just an excuse for some actors to gain publicity, “The starting point of this challenge is great; you can’t deny its positive influences because of some individual behaviour.” So he intends to take on the challenge himself and donate to ALS foundation.
Guang will finish his studies in July next year. Unlike many other Chinese students, he is not intent on getting permanent residency in Australia. Many Chinese students, particularly those studying business and accounting, aim to become Australian citizens, he says. However, the process is difficult and arduous.
“I don’t want to live such a tense and tired life, I’d rather let nature take its course.”
Guang doesn’t want to push himself too hard, and he says he might work in Australia after graduation. But that is not for the residency or citizenship, he values the working experience more.
When asked to give some advices to those Chinese students who plan to study abroad, he says, “Once you pick a path in the long road of life, you have chosen that kind of lifestyle at the same time. I just want to live my life in a natural way.” This is Guang Yang, a typical Chinese student with an untypical life attitude.