Hi, my name is Van.
Lana was my English teacher in Suzhou, China, at the Suzhou Tourism and Finance Institute.
I studied for two years at the STFI and to finish my degree I came to the Blue Mountains Hotel School in Sydney. My major in Suzhou was Hotel Management and all our classes were in English.
Q. Why did you come to Australia?
I came to finish my education and graduate at the Sydney campus of the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School. I also knew it would be a better life and environment for me.
Q. How did your family feel about you coming out here on your own?
It’s a bit hard to answer. My mum was fine about it, she was happy for me to come, but my father misses me a great deal and it has been harder for him. He wanted to me go back to China after I graduated. My mother was very keen for me to come, but my father was not so happy. I think he would have liked me to stay in China and continue his business there.
Q. What was your first impression of Australia?
I stayed with my auntie for the first few weeks, so it was like a holiday. After that I lived at the school. It was not in the city, but up in the Blue Mountains. Not so many people live up there.
I was surprised at how blue the sky was and the air is so fresh. People enjoy their life here and love their country.
One of the biggest differences I noticed was that people here like to enjoy their life. At first I thought they were just lazy people, but then I realised they just prefer to enjoy life rather than making money all the time.
Q. Have you been able to make friends in Australia?
Yes I have but it has been harder to make friends with Aussies. I have many friends, but mostly from other countries, from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, more international people. The Australians seem to have their own groups and it is harder to melt into their groups. It seems to be something to do with the culture. But I do love it here, the people are very friendly.
Q. Did you find it easier or harder to study in Australia, compared to China?
It was easier for me. I could understand the teachers well. At first, maybe for the first month I had to get used to the fast speaking, but after that it was fine. I could totally follow everything in the classroom.
Q. Did you find it stressful studying at the Blue Mountain School?
Not really. If I wanted High Distinctions I had to study hard, but it wasn’t really too hard. Stress wasn’t a problem for me. Some of the others had trouble though. If their English was good they were okay but if their English was not good, if they couldn’t get a pass 6 in IELTS then they had some big problems.
Q. What do you think of the food in Australia?
The food is nice. It is nutritious. I gained a bit of weight when I came here. My favourites are steak, and bread and kebabs, (that is Arabian food). The bread here is much nicer than at home, not so sweet and no additives. I also like the pizza here. There are no foods that I hate. Australian food is safe and I really love it all.
Comment by Lana. I know you used to eat Western food a lot because in your training in Suzhou you learned to cook Western food and serve it in the restaurant attached to the school.
Q. When you graduated, what was your degree?
I did a business degree specialising in hospitality (hotel or event management).
Q. How did it feel to leave China on your own?
The first day I was really excited, but soon I realised I would have to take care of myself. I didn’t get homesick at first because I was staying with my auntie. I was a little worried and nervous at first. Everything was so new.
Q. Did it feel strange to see so many white people and not so many Chinese people?
There were lots of Asians round Sydney and at my school there were lots of Chinese. I am in Adelaide now. There are quite a few Chinese students in Adelaide too, but most of them are at the University of Adelaide. I am at the University of South Australia, and have more Australian friends here.
Q. What was the best thing about coming to Australia?
The lifestyle, and having more international friends. Eating different foods. I think living in a different culture has been the best thing. In China there is so much pressure to work hard and earn money. Here I think it is easier. One day maybe I can own my own home and car. And the girls here are very pretty.
Q. Do you have a girlfriend here?
No. I must concentrate on my studies now.
Q. What was the worst thing about coming here to live?
It is very expensive compared to China. If I calculate the money I spend in RMB it is a lot. The tuition fees are very high for international students. I have been legally able to work here and earn some money, so that helped. As part of my study we were sent to five star hotels for work experience and we got paid for that.
Q. After you graduated what did you do?
Before I finished my degree I had decided I wanted to be a nurse. So once I graduated I enrolled at the University of South Australia and I am studying nursing now. I live in Adelaide.
Q. Is that easier or harder than studying in China?
It is much harder because of the terms, the words for different parts of the human body. Many names for parts of the body come from Greek or Latin and they are harder for me to learn. So I have to study more. I don’t do any part time work just now, I must concentrate on my studies.
Q. Why did you decide to study nursing?
I had an operation on my heart when I was younger. And I just wanted to take care of kids and aged people, helping them. I wanted to get a qualification in nursing and work in Australia. Nursing is a good job and has good pay. I also learn how to take care of my own health.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
I plan to successfully graduate with my nursing degree. Then I want to work in Australia as a registered nurse. I will have to sit the IELTS test again later on. I will go back to China for holidays but I would like to live here now. I feel very confident on my own and my life is good.