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Second week in Australia.

July 24, 2009
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WHAT UP. I miss you guys. This is going to be  long post.

It has been a busy two weeks, and now I have some quiet time alone at home. I am also surrounded by the smell of Lauder Intuition for Men.

Last Friday, I moved into a house  on Broadway, two blocks away from campus. The location is very convenient, especially because the buses only run once every half an hour or once an hour after dark and on weekends. The house is nice, with 2 bedrooms, a humungous living room and kitchen, dining room, and a random room off the kitchen that we’re not sure what to do with.  And, windows everywhere 😀 Moving in and discovering the exact state of the house was an the adventure: slightly filthy, half of the light bulbs (“globes”) out of commission, and no hot water. Things are settling in nicely now, and we even got a fridge today 🙂

Yeah, I miss summer. When I sleep, I’m wearing tights, sweats, a tanktop, a ribbed turtleneck, and a fleece. Just like home, haha. I was describing to my mom how cold it was and how it reminded me of sleeping at home, and she laughed at me. My mom also mailed me a silk comforter from home to keep me warmer and shipping cost $45.90 –‘

My housemate, Damian, is doing his second semester at UWA in Commerce. Damian is Singaporean and I’ve been hanging out with his friends. I feel a little bit more like I’m in Singapore, not Australia. I have never been around so many Singaporeans at one time and am now getting used to Singlish. Singlish is English with Chinese grammar and shortened, plus a variety of Chinese dialects thrown in. Damian is a friend’s friend (thank you, Aster), but we didn’t meet in person until the day before we moved in. He is the type of person that you meet and instantly like. He is theatrical, talks a lot, and is slightly presumptuous (Hi, Damian). It’s definitely nice to be living with a friend, instead of a stranger. I’m sure I can learn from him many things, not the least of which is to cook. (Our deal is that I buy groceries, and he cooks.)

So far I have a bed, a mattress, and 2 comforters in my room (my own room!). Soon I will have a table, an office chair, and a floor lamp. We’re still waiting for the cleaners to come to clean out the closets, and then I will start moving my clothes from the suitcase, haha. It’s enjoyable to move in somewhere new and start making a home from it. Home will always be where the heart is, though.

Coming here to Australia, you’re restricted in what you can physically bring. You start thinking about how your real posessions are your experiences, not the things that you can carry with you. Living in a place where you don’t really know a single person is a good experience, I think. You think about how much of your identity comes from your own personality and how much of your actions were because your friends at home expected them.  Without a long-established support group in place, you feel pretty alone, and you need to tap into all of your own strength and resources to be successful in a new place. I also find myself trying to find support from greater beings, mostly by chanting ohm mani beh me hon.

That being said, the EAP director definitely emphasized that we always have support from the EAP office and from the campus international centre so future study abroad students, you’re definitely not completely alone.

Anyways, I’ve been meeting some people during orientation and in Damian’s circle. All the Asian people (read: Singaporeans) I’ve met think I’m very white (“Daphne, you should try soybean milk at least once.”, “You use chopsticks?!”) whereas all the white people I’ve met think I’m very Asian (“I’m from Vermont, which is on the east coast of the United States.”) Growing up in the Bay, I think most of us went through a period where we learned how to balance our Asian-american upbringing. For me, I’ve been in the same community for so long and have already settled into a pattern for balancing identity that I had forgotten about the tensions it can create. An Asian girl with an American accent. I feel like I have to hang on very tightly to my Americaness.  The Asian people are surprised that growing up Asian-american in California means there is a strong emphasis on retaining your mother culture, not necessarily on being in the great melting pot that American supposedly is. Yes, there is Salonpas. And Pi Pa Kao. And pearl milk tea. In America the Asians like to hang out together, just like the Asians here in Australia. The thing with growing up in America is not that you become westernized, but that you gain value on the boundary between Asian and white, able to function effectively in both worlds.  (My dad likes to stress value in being a part of the boundary conditions.)

I can pretty much guarantee that I’m not going to come back with an Australian accent, but I will probably come back with different vocabulary. Also, haven’t eaten any typical Australian foods besides vegemite yet. I’ll post again this weekend and tell you about my classes, like OCEANOGRAPHY.  Also, may possibly post photos. And I’m going to do the pre-interview, really.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sophia permalink
    July 24, 2009 11:56

    ARE YOU DOING THE MARINE BIOLOGY PROGRAM!?????????? Also, do try more Australian food and take pictures and post about it! And I’m curious to the different vocabulary/culture/customs are in Australia, especially between Asian-Australians and white Australians. How “melting pot” is Australia?

    I feel like a very demanding blog reader 😦

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