‘You’ve Been To China?’

The most common response I hear after talking about Shanghai is ‘you’ve been to CHINA?’ Hells yea I’ve been to China. Well one small part of one large city in one large country! Since I was little, I remember being fascinated by the Great Wall of China and was obsessed with Disney’s Mulan. So en route to my year abroad in London, I was lucky enough to spend three crazy days in one of the biggest cities in the world SHANGHAI! 

The Bund
The Bund

I was so pleasantly surprised with Shanghai. The people, culture, the food and the diversity. It’s where tradition meets the future and it’s such a surreal concept to experience.

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Whether it was getting my shoes shined on the street, visiting a sacred Jade Buddah Temple, catching a ferry across the river, trying to decipher Chinese street signs, eat street food, getting lost in markets, going up the tallest tower… there was always something to see and do.

One of the highlights of this spectacular city was actually getting off the beaten path and visiting a traditional and rural Chinese village on the outside of the Shanghai district, and if Shanghai city is the Paris of Asia, then this little village was the mini version of Venice. I booked the tour through Viator and we had a guide who was born and raised in Shanghai and spoke excellent English. He told us everything about his life in China and Shanghai, his family, the government, the media and it was so insightful and beautiful to hear. We drove past tiny ‘houses’ where pigs were hung out on lines to dry out, and ‘towns’ where they were just connected to electricity only a few years ago. In the village we took a ‘gondola’ ride around the many canals, walked through the narrow streets and stared at all the pork knuckles in the windows of food shops. I felt like I actually got a real tast of China, like the traditional dish, sweet and sour pork, it just leaves you wanting more.

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Some things to note. 

Maybe I was a little too naive in assuming that English was widely spoken. Whilst people generally spoke English where it mattered (in banks and hotels) however people on the street generally had very limited English. Whilst my Chinese is literally non existant, it was quite difficult to get around.

I also didn’t feel incredibly safe at night. I’m not sure whether that was because it was the first place I’d been and was more aware of my safety, I just felt a little unsettled walking around at night time.

We were also approached on every street and every corner by people selling products. Due to having red hair and pale skin, I kind of stood out like a sore thumb and was therefore quite an easy target. Without trying to be rude, I just politely smiled and kept walking.

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Shanghai was an incredible experience and I definitely recommend it to any of you contemplating going to China or even elsewhere in the world! I hope I get a chance to go back again soon.

xxx A

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International Education: Easy as ABC?

In the thriving 21st Century, finishing school and completing a university degree is simply not enough. Employers are now looking for employees with life skills and life experience; something that studying abroad facilitates. ‘International Students have a broader mindset’ (Top Universities, 2014), a desirable trait for companies in the current globalised economy.

International Students generally possess ‘high levels of motivation and dedication’ (Khorana, 2014). International Students but why do some International Students experience loneliness, isolation and anxiety when they come to Australia?

Surprisingly enough to us Aussies, Australia can be a very confusing place for people who have never been ‘Down Under.’ We do not speak ‘English’ as International Students are taught at schools. Instead we speak with a distinct Australian accent in a strange Australian language. Slang and colloquial words are used regularly in every day speech, we tend to shorten words like afternoon to arvo and university to uni which ‘confuse students who are used to a more formal type of English.’ (Kell and Vogl,2006). We don’t live lifestyles like those on Home and Away (or maybe those lucky enough to live in Wollongong might). What might seem like ridiculous stereotypes to us Aussies, can be expected from International Students who have had limited exposure to Australian culture. So when we’re not wearing thongs, singlets, have tans, a surfboard under our arm or cooking a shrimp on the barbie, it can be difficult for International Students to identify and connect with Australians. Some International Students can sometimes see ‘only Anglo Australians as ‘real’ Australians.’ (Kell and Vogl, 2006), however, according to the 2011 census, 1 in 4 Australians are born overseas. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

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Scene from Home and Away: Beach, Surfboard, Caucasian skin, tanned… Australian right?

I interact with International Students on a daily basis. I live at a university college… ‘International House,’ home to both Australians and International Students, and I now have friends from across the globe… Iceland, France, Sweden, America, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia, teaching them some vital Australian slang along the way, I too would like to go on exchange one day and seeing the strength, maturity, responsibility and confidence of International Students  I have come across, it is truly inspiring and motivating to take part in the global education the world has to offer.

References

Graduate Jobs: What Employers Look For , Top Universities. 2014.Graduate Jobs: What Employers Look For | Top Universities, http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/careers-advice/graduate-jobs-what-employers-look, accessed 20 August 2014

Khorana S, 2014, BCM111 Lecture Slides, Internationalising Education- Cultural Competence and Cosmopolitanism, delivered 13 August 2014

Kell, P., Vogl, G. 2006, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion. Everyday Multiculturalism Conference, Proceedings of the Everyday Multiculturalism Conference of the CRSI – 28-29 Sept. 2006: Online Publication, : Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University. Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011 Census reveals one in four Australians is born overseas. 2014. 2011 Census reveals one in four Australians is born overseashttp://abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/CO-59. Accessed 20 August 2014