independent Tag Archive

My First Ever “Breaking Away” in Australia

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

It’s hard to define “home” when you don’t stay in one place for an entire year.

In my case, during the first half of the year, I lived in a homestay. During the winter break, I went back to my home country, Malaysia, to visit my family before coming back to Australia. Just recently, I moved out of homestay into a shared house with friends.

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Living in different places brought out different aspects of my personality. While I was at the home stay, it seemed imperative for me always to show my best behaviour because it was like I was representing my own country. I would consistently wake up early, get myself ready for classes and get my laundry done on time. If I didn’t, I felt it would reflect poorly on my parents and how they have raised me. At the same time, it was the right kind of pressure, the kind that makes you a better person. I felt much more productive, and I certainly got a lot of things done, and I was also able to enjoy what Sydney had to offer in the spare time that I had.

Ice skating with the ladies

Ice skating with the ladies

But now that I’m living in a shared house, it feels like the pressure is gone. I don’t have to put myself on a pedestal and demand myself to be the best example of a Malaysian girl because I’m in a house full of Malaysian girls. There’s no reason to try to stand out because I belong. Of course, at times I do feel left out and awkward, but it happens to everyone. These kinds of awkward moments only last for a split second…then life resumes its course. I’m slowly learning to work through them because if I think about it, in the long run, this is where I can learn more about who I am and establish a closer connection to people from my culture.

Im Ready yo

It may not seem like much but living in a shared house tests my independence and maturity. I am even more in charge of my survival than before, especially when it comes to food. I now have to decide what to eat every day! That’s super stressful! If it were up to me, I’d just eat instant noodles, but I hear that’s not exactly healthy. Really, I have the utmost respect for mothers and fathers that always know what to cook for their families (y’all got it figured out). Also being in university, I am wholly in charge of my studies. There’s a lot of gap time in between classes and what I do in those hours could either really help me or hurt me. Of course, the first few weeks of uni I messed around and slept in my free time. But I’ve grown to realise the importance of setting a routine early on in the semester when it comes to studying. That is certainly something I will work on next semester.

The ladies from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney

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Being able to live in a shared house with different people has also allowed me to meet more people and more friends! It was something I was not able to do back in the homestay as I was living with one family. I recently met my housemates’ friends when we went on a trip to the Blue Mountains together. We hadn’t met before, but during that journey I found that I really connected with them and felt at ease. We have since become friends, and it’s helped me feel that I won’t go through life alone.

The Malaysian sensations from the recent Blue Mountains trip

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My parents have told me stories from their university years about finding a close-knit group of friends, and I have always wanted to experience something similar. I wanted to find people I could seriously consider my brothers and sisters in this new city. By deciding to move to this shared house, I feel as though I have done just that.

It feels like home away from home.

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Little Ms. Independent International Student

Written by Student Life

It’s pretty common for teens to wish they were on their own, living the independent life, with no parental units breathing down their necks. We’ve all been through that. I’ve always wanted to be independent — I’ve always dreamt of going to university, living on my own, setting my own curfew, exploring and absorbing culture through my pores. I just never thought that time would come so soon. I’d always prepared myself for the separation from my parents after I graduated. It was the norm. I’d come to terms that graduation marked the beginning of my adult life. But, alas, that is not always true.

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It was the summer after my junior year. Australia wasn’t a curve ball my parents threw out of nowhere; it’s been in the works since the beginning of the school year. I was excited. And nervous. Really, really nervous. I was no stranger to uprooting to a strange land; I’ve had to move to Saudi Arabia at 9. Settling into Saudi Arabia, however, is far easier than Australia. You’d think, “Well, you’ve lived in a conservative society all your life, wouldn’t you want to be independent?” I did. But there was a catch.

I had to do it without my parents.dsc_0757

They flew Down Under with me, of course, but they were only around for 1 week. I was only 17. How was I supposed to survive three months and three weeks without my parents?! They don’t teach you this kind of stuff in school. But thankfully, my mamma didn’t raise no fool. I could take care of my basic necessities just fine – I knew how to wash my clothes, change my sheets, wash the dishes, clean my room, the simpler stuff. I just couldn’t handle finances well. But it wasn’t something I couldn’t learn.

“When I first moved to London, I felt very homesick and yearned after the countryside a lot. Because London’s hard. It’s a big place, and it’s lonely. It takes a while to get into it. But once I got into the flow of it and started to grow up, I realized that my home is wherever I am.”

– Toby Kebbell

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Because I am underage, I had to stay in a home-stay. Living in a home-stay helped ease the homesickness – my host will usually have guests and they would treat me, almost, like their own. It made me feel very welcomed, except when they would begin to speak to each other. That always throws me off course. I went from smiling, laughing and trying to make small talk to just staring at a point on the wall or just staring at the TV as they spoke in rapid-fire Greek. 0 – 100 real quick. But I got used to it.

It was a challenge for me to enjoy myself here. There was this one time that a friend of mine pointed out that I was very cheerful and I was “emoting”. It was very interesting of her to say that – I had always thought I was emoting. Unknowingly, I had this solemn, somber, indifferent look on my face if I wasn’t particularly into conversations; probably an RBF but sadder. I was immensely insecure about being miles and miles away from my comfort zones. It was my defense mechanism.

I didn’t want to be one of those small town people who forgot themselves once they moved to the big city, the big leagues. Focused on not losing myself and home, I refused to enjoy what Sydney had to offer. But that always resulted in my sitting in my room, taking long walks down memory lane and getting lost in a whirlwind of emotions. That’s not healthy.

nazihah5Coming back for my second semester here, I’ve resolved to enjoy myself. Sure, I’ve had to grow up and mature pretty quickly, and I’m still a bundle of nerves anxiety. But, I’ve begun to accept that I’m 17 and miles away from home. It can only be a good thing in the long run and it’s the start of something great. The weather will change but it doesn’t mean I can’t get the most out of it.

I’ve got a mission here and that’s to make my parents proud, to make myself proud, and to grow. Like waves in the stormy ocean, responsibility and life broke the shores of my consciousness and washed me awake. Trying to surf the waves when I’ve only been practicing for 3 days is deadly. I will fall and get hurt but I’d hurt myself even more if I didn’t try.

It wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy and I don’t expect it to be. I’ve always got support from my loving parents and my wonderful friends back home and here Down Under. To help myself enjoy myself Down Under, I chronicle my adventures on my blog here and through photos on my gallery.

How long was I going to live under my parents’ wings?

I’ve got my own. Let’s give them a test run.

 

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