By students in Oz, for Indian students

Farzana S Kader

I haven’t faced racism but there are a few things that is done by the desis (Asians) that gives the rest of the desis a bad name. For example:

*Listening to music (English, desi, doesn’t matter) on speaker phone in public places like the train. We are not in the middle of Mumbai.

*Talking LOUDLY on the phone in public places. Again, we are not in India/Dhaka etc.

*Staring. I have faced this a lot. Staring is simply rude. I know all these White people, or the occasional desi might seem interesting, but no. You don’t do that here.

*Important: Western women deserve as much respect as desi women. Many Asians are given the wrong impression that western women are easy/cheap unlike desi women. That is not correct. The clothing style and culture might vary but that’s about it. I have come across so many men who play around with girls here and go back to India to marry a virgin. Selfish I think.

*Its comforting to stay within own cultural group, but in a foreign country why not mingle with different races?

*Though this is a safer country than most Asian countries, don’t put yourself in situations where you can be targeted. For example, catching public transport at 1 am by yourself, walking home alone. Gives you a higher chance of getting stabbed, and you will be target because you are vulnerable at that point, not because you are desi.

(The writer is a university student, born in Bangladesh, raised in Melbourne.)

Wayne A Morris

A few things students should understand/follow to respect the local culture. Australia is a very multicultural country. There are some very obvious differences between the culture of India and a lot of western cultures, including Australia, namely difference relating to how long a person stays at home and how open people are towards sex in general. I think it is important that Indians, who come from a very conservative culture understand that a person’s job does not dictate their rank in society in Australia and we don’t consider people who do trades to be lower in society than someone who has a Master’s degree in Physics. More often than not a person who left school at 15 to take on a trade such as brick laying or electrician work would be financially well off and looking at building their first house at 19 where other students, who stayed at school, would only just be getting into university. It is not uncommon for a tradesman to make over 100,000 a year which is far more than someone with five years of education.

I have known a number of girls whose mothers have told them to stay away from Australian men. I think this creates a stigma surrounding Australian men which can be detrimental to functioning productively in a social environment. Each person should be taken on their own merit.

In Australia children leave home anywhere between the ages of 16 and 21 and usually do so when they move away to university or they get work and support themselves. It is much more common for girls to be nurtured more by the home environment and for longer than the males who would usually move out with mates as young as 17.

Sexual equality is very strong in Australian universities. More often than not the more dominant personalities in university groups will be females, who will organise a lot of the work and get better grades than male students.

Dos and don’ts

*Don’t expect Australian students to accept you too quickly. University is a highly competitive environment. This depends on personality types as well. If you are an outgoing person you will probably find it easier to make friends, as is the case in any culture or race. Popularity at university is a fine balance of academic ability and how well you are at interacting with others.

*Don't have preconceived notions of how your Australian experience will be. If you come over thinking that all Australians are racist, then you have already closed the door for you to make new friends...

*Do take time to experience the Australian landscape, which (apart from its lack of elephants) is similar in some area to that of India. Experience it in your own way.

Not racist

Like elsewhere we have some bad apples. This behaviour is NOT tolerated in Australia.

(The writer is a university student, local to Geelong.)

Vishnu Kumar

Most students go to an agent to help them with admissions to a university. The agents are paid a commission of over 15 per cent (upto $3000-5000) of the first semester fees. Find an agent who doesn’t charge you anything. You will be indirectly paying them once you pay your tuition fees. Contact IDP (established by Australian universities) at www.india.idp.com/australia/home.aspx

Research, research!

This experience is not just a degree you get after the end of four years of study, it is a lifestyle change. Everything around you will change. It’s up to you to be prepared.

*Search the internet, read books, talk to people, use Facebook, Twitter and student fora.

*Once here, approach your University’s international services department. They are the people to  help you settle down  and will be there to help you throughout your stay as a student.

*Any question is a good question. Ask anyone, they expect you to.

* Speak to people politely (this is a very specific cultural difference). We as Indians communicate casually. In Australia, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ are words very much valued. Get to know the local language on www.aussieslang.com

*Respect the country, its culture. Find out everything about local food, slang, social occasions etc. If you want to be more prepared for it, read an Australian book, watch a movie. When in Rome, you do what the Romans do.

*There will be students and people from all over the world, studying and living with you. Local people can help you get around things that a foreigner/international student would not know. Mannerisms and cultural differences is where locals can help you out. Have fun.

*Universities provide a range of various student services like counselling, accommodation help, study skills etc. Jump on their website to find out or ask around when you get here. There are also various clubs and student organised activities that you can take part in. Get involved in university life.

Not just White

Australia is as multicultural as you can get. Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of migration. There are people from all over the world living here as Australians but are from India, Greece, Vietnam, Portugal, Brazil, Zimbabwe, America, China, Thailand etc. There are 1,53,579 Australians of Indian origin (source: wikipedia).

Australia is not a racist country. However, there may be racist individuals.

(The writer is a university student from India.)

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