Writer: Sally S.Y. Cheung
People always focus on others’ achievements but forget the effort behind the scenes. There were many times when my friends said to me ‘You are having so much fun in Australia’, ‘I am so jealous that you can live by yourself’, and ‘You can have a lot of freedom overseas’. I won’t deny that I am really lucky that I get a chance to study overseas. Compared to the local students back home, I get more chances to practice my English since I am living in an English-speaking environment. I have more opportunities to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. My horizon has become wider because I see so much more than I would see in my home country. However, things always have two sides, who will understand the other side of an international student?
Because I am an international student, I can never cry at the airport when I have to say goodbye to my family. It is because it makes my parents feel more worried about me. However, who knows the feeling behind my smile?
Because I am an international student, once I arrive in a new country, the first mission I have to deal with is finding the way to my new home. In order to save money, I need to take public transportation with my 40kg luggage, which means having to go up and down to transfer from another train and bus.
Because I am an international student, I know what the actual meaning of ‘cold’ is, when the temperature is down to 0 degrees, and I also know the actual meaning of ‘hot’, when the temperature is up to 49 degrees.
Because I am an international student, I have no one to rely on except myself. Therefore, I have to be stronger and independent. When I am sad, I can only cry inside my quilt at night.
Because I am an international student, I cannot see my parents all the time like my hall mates. When I see their families come to visit them during the weekend, I can only be jealous and wish I could see my family soon.
Because I am an international student, food can always cure my homesickness. Although I know the Chinese food here is tasteless and it never tastes the same as the original back home, I still insist on going because it makes me ‘feel like home’. Also, instant noodles have become one of my favourite foods, especially during the assignments deadline and exam period. Plus, I now understand how precious my mum’s cooking is.
Because I am an international student, I always like to stick with a group of people because it doesn’t make me feel lonely. However, I need to control myself well, because there are many temptations (such as smoking, alcohol and drugs) out there that can help you release your pressure but they are never good for your body.
Because I am an international student, I have to pay a huge amount of school fees. Therefore, I have to handle my money meticulously since I don’t want to burden my parents on financial issues. I only buy the lowest price products in the supermarket and sometimes I eat food which is expired. I have to consider carefully before every purchase.
Because I am an international student, I have to live up to many expectations from different people such as my friends, my parents and my whole family. Since English is not my first language, compared to the local students, I have to pay extra attention in order to get a great result.
However, ‘No pain no gain!’ Because I am an international student, I know my hard work is worthwhile for my future.
Sally is an international from Hong Kong and completing her Master Degree of Communication at VU.