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Celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Written by Entertainment, News

The Mid-Autumn Festival has always been a huge holiday in China. In fact it is the second most important holiday behind Chinese New Year. On the 5th day of the 8th lunar month with the arrival of autumn and appearance of the full moon, this festival originally celebrates gratitude for good crops and harvest, explaining its importance to the large farmer population in China.

“Legend has it that Hou Yi, the powerful hero who shot down nine of ten suns, received an elixir that has the power to send him to heaven and transform him into a god. He secretly gave the elixir to his kind-hearted wife, Chang E, for safe keeping, unaware that Peng Meng saw it. Once Hou Yi went out hunting, Peng Meng rushed to Chang E and demand she hand it over. Refusing to hand it over yet knowing she wouldn’t win, she swallowed the elixir and immediately flew up into the sky. It was her love for her husband, however, that drew her towards the Moon, the nearest place to Earth. Devastated by what happened to his wife, he offered her favourite food on the altar as a sacrifice . After hearing that Chang E became a goddess, folk people have since offered sacrifices to Chang E to pray for peace and good luck”

The festive atmosphere starts as early as one-month prior  with lanterns decorating the streets, vendors in markets selling moon cakes and families beginning to prepare for gatherings.  However, decorations aren’t a common sight on the streets now; only certain areas hang lanterns or  red banners with yellow Chinese characters saying “庆祝中秋”(Celebrating Mid-Autumn).

In addition to lanterns on the street, occasional street performances can be seen featuring the vivacious dancing dragon, the rhythmic drumbeats and loud golden clash cymbals.

During the days leading up to the festival, moon cakes  are the most popular item in a supermarket (and often the most common gift my dad received from his colleagues).

Traditional moon cakes consist of a soft pastry with a chewy, flaky or tender crust,  chewy, flaky or tender, enveloping a type of filling inside.

  1. On the top: an imprint on the crust with Chinese characters meaning “longevity” or “reunion”, designed with additional fancy prints around the characters.
  2. Inside the moon cake:
  • various fillings, but lotus seed paste (with or without egg yolk)
  • red bean paste
  •  jujube (dates) paste
  • five kernels (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, or almonds) held by maltose syrup have remained as the four classics.

Today, a wide range of exotic options exist such as fruit, ice cream and even seafood fillings!

My fondest memories are of my dad coming home with boxes of moon cakes in which my family and I would indulge in (my favourite were, and still are, red bean, egg yolk and pork fillings).

Moon cakes have always been a staple of the Mid-Autumn Festival and eaten to experience this holiday in the traditional style. .

Of course, there are more to just moon cakes on this special occasion.

The most important aspect of the Mid-Autumn Festival is family, cousins, uncles and every family member unite at the same place, same time to celebrate in their own fashion. Families that are more into tradition might light incense to pray to the gods before heading outside to sit on wooden stools and chatter under the goddess Chang E  living on the round, silver moon. Families of the new generation like mine look forward to preparing a big celebratory feast at home or finding a nice restaurant to enjoy.

Fireworks and lanterns light up the skies while large light figurines of dragons or lotuses float on small bodies of water. Families go out together to appreciate the scenery, yet still others  choose to stay at home on the couch and watch the Mid-Autumn Festival Gala while eating sunflower seeds.  Some may find the gala  a bore, but it’s one of those traditions that complete the festival in a way.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Chinese holidays, seeing the banana that I am, but the Mid-Autumn Festival has got to be one of my favourites. As I grew up, my celebratory traditions have changed, but one tradition remains the same: family gathering.

My family might not be in Sydney with me to celebrate, nor are my senses able to pick up any of the usual Mid-Autumn festiveness in China but I have my new family of friends to eat moon cakes and attend the Cabramatta Moon Festival to feel at home with.

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Soccer – a bridge between NSW police and International Students

Written by Entertainment, News, Student Life

The NSW police force held a friendly Beach Soccer Tournament at Coogee in competition with international students last Sunday as part of a mutual bonding experience.

The multicultural-themed tournament started at 8:30 am with almost 200 students of all genders and ages from more than 37 countries hitting the sand and playing matches in a round-robin fashion.

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“Soccer, the world game, is a terrific way to celebrate different cultures and what they bring to the Australian community, while promoting social awareness and inclusion,” said Corporate Sponsor for the Safety of International Students, Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate.

Despite poor weather conditions, thousands of spectators showed up with high spirits to cheer on players and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere full of music, food and dance.

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The day concluded on a great note for the Chile team, after an intense grand final match against the police team, with Chile taking out the competition 1-0.

The event showcased a great deal of multiculturalism amongst students representing Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, India, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, all of whom study or studied at schools, TAFE colleges, English language colleges, universities and other educational institutions in NSW.

“I got to know different cultures and made some friends from Columbia, India and Malaysia,” said Bangladeshi graduate of the University of Western Sydney and winner of the tournament’s Strongest Display of Community Spirit and Support Award Anup Sarker.

“They’re playing in a different team but it’s nice that we are connecting [with] each other [from] all over the world. This type of event actually brings all the people under the same umbrella and we can connect so quickly and easily because we don’t have our families here so friends become family.”

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With a high influx of international students studying abroad in Australia, the police force priorities student safety as number one but given that many international students fear police officers based on personal experiences in their home countries, the NSW police aims to build trust and partnership with the culturally diverse communities.

“[For] a lot of the contestants we have here, [the police] in their home countries are not always the people you would go to when you are in trouble… The beauty of this event is we [police force] can show the students that we are approachable,” said Office Dean Lindley.

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“If they are in trouble, they should come to us; we’re not going to extort them for money or anything like that. It [the tournament] just breaks down the barriers between students and if they get into any trouble, they can come to us.”

This free, culturally-friendly Beach Soccer Tournament at Coogee of 2015 was the biggest and best tournament police have ever hosted since 2013.

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“We really appreciate the support from the local community, as well as the educational institutions, Randwick City Council, event sponsors and local business, all of whom played a part in making the day such a success,” Dept Supt Dengate said.

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Once Upon a Time on an App Called Tinder

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

If someone told me a year ago that I would be dating a guy from Tinder, I would have laughed my ass off.

Having spent more than half my life in China, I accepted the friends-crush-date-couple-lose virginity sequence. However, after four years in New Zealand and another ten in Shanghai, studying at an American International School (it’s complicated I know,but bear with me), I became open to “new options.”

16219770871_7fb4c8a9ac_kFor a while, I embraced the single life— drinking at bars, partying at clubs and making out with schoolboys. Then I started to feel a bit lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best friends in the world who cared about me and made me feel loved; but there was something, that special love from that special someone, missing in my life.

My bestie recommended Tinder but I opposed social media dating at the time. Then one night, I saw Tinder was one trending search on the app store. I found my finger tapping the app and looking over its summary.

I can get shy when it comes to approaching guys, especially attractive guys, which explains why I only had four guy friends. I’ve stopped drinking and clubbing too so I don’t get out there as much. But I thought, “It doesn’t hurt to try… right? After all, it’s just a platform to flirt around with, not like anything serious would happen”. Impulsively, I tapped “Get” and in 10 seconds, Tinder was on my phone.

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Tinder turned out to be fun to “play” with. In order to create a Tinder profile, it must be connected to my Facebook, ensuring legitimate identity of the person, .I chose my range in age and distance, and set my preference to view males only. Then came the fun part: the profile picture and bio. I chose the best picture I had of me on Facebook and a few other photos that were genuine and free of edits or (excessive) make-up. I knew a funny bio would be a big boost to my profile so I wrote “I’ll give 35% of a shit for your appearance and 65% of a shit for your personality. Sound fair?”. That sure got a lot of my conversations going, and it was the starting point for my relationship with my boyfriend, who I matched with early June.

Yes, it’s possible to find a boyfriend on Tinder. I am living proof. We have been dating for almost two months now, still in the honeymoon phase. I feel happier than ever and everyone around me sees the glow. I never believed in perfection, but he’s the closest thing to it.

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I know every Tinder story doesn’t end up like mine but isn’t all that bad. Sure it seems superficial because your swipes are based on appearance and a short bio, but in reality, we judge a book by its cover without knowing it. In a sense, Tinder actually cuts those boundaries because your personality might stand out as you engage in conversations with your matches. Your match might take your appearance less into account when he or she finds out how awesome your personality is during your date.

So give it a go; it doesn’t hurt to try.

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5 Secrets of Moving to Another Country

Written by Entertainment

Phase 1: Before leaving home

Family and friends overload you with instructions from their own experiences of travelling (but forget to mention things that actually needs preparation). It’ll make you have very high expectations for your dream country.

“Western countries have very high standards in terms of appearance”. You get nervous and shop for too much stuff that you don’t even need.

“Everything will be so thoughtful and well-organized, that for the first few days you will just stare at things in amazement”. That didn’t happen to me. My sister and I had to coordinate for quite some time to find each other. There were no gate numbers or even anyone around to ask!

Phase 2: Arriving at your destination

For the first few hours you are overwhelmed with all the details that pour in from all the sides. They’ll almost drive you out of your senses. Apart from long airport queues at the airport, I don’t even have much memory of the day I landed in Sydney. The confusion and strain made me forget that I was in a new country. I had to keep reminding myself that it would be exhilarating to look out the cab window and observe!

Phase 3: This place is different

Comparisons, comparisons in all sorts of scales and details. The most significant of them for me, were the sounds. In India, the short sounds of horns constantly teint-teinting becomes normal and the importance of the road is identified by the amount of noise. But in Sydney, the same thing is represented by silence. The busier the street, the slower the cars and NOBODY HONKS HERE! Instead, the most overwhelming sound for me was the walk-signal beeps. They were like firing machine guns, urging me to

Cross the street or you will be killed!”

Phase 4: Self-awareness

Sydney’s highly systematic approach begins to make one self-conscious: Always stand on your left on the escalators andmove ahead if you’re standing on the right, can you cross the street when the walk sign is red?

Did I place order for the coffee properly? Did I say thank you and please the correct number of times? This constant self-nagging makes you feel restricted. But hey, I would choose these restrictions over the uncontrollable chaos of traffic, people, dogs and cows any time!

Phase 5: The final phase

You begin to make peace with your country, and this can take as long as a few years or as little as a few weeks.

After spending almost two months in this land ‘Down Under’, a completely unbelievable thing helped me achieve this. On my walk from the station home, a patch of road was covered with the fragrance of eucalyptus. It strongly reminded me of the times when my home town would be covered with the Raat-rani flower fragrance. I thought,

“Although this land is strange and stressful now, I can find the tiniest possible tings to establish my own connection with it. And that would probably make it my most comfortable abode ever!”

What about you?

  • Have you been yet succeeded in finding your own tiny connection?
  • What are the things that affected you the most, or made you feel comfortable?
  • Apart from food, what things made you miss your country the most?
  • Write down your comments below!

Photographer: Gerogia and Youngtae Kim

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