Olivia: How Res Colleges helped my transition from China to Australia

Blogger: Shaoying Huang (Olivia)
Olivia is studying a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Accounting) and lives on-campus at Steel Rudd College. She has made many friends since arriving in Australia as an international student and is keen to share her tips and knowledge to help other Chinese students make the most of their Aussie study experience.

As a Chinese student living and studying in Australia you may be curious about some tips for transitioning to Australian life. You may want to know what the biggest cultural differences are between China and Australia. That’s why I’d like you to join me on a multicultural journey to understand my experience at USQ. Hopefully it will broaden your horizons and help you to experience a new point of view. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Making Aussie friends

Res Colleges are a melting pot of many different cultures. Students come from all over the world to gain their education at USQ. My friends at college are not just Australian, but are also Chinese, American, Arabic and Indian. Even with all our different backgrounds, it is the greatest thing to find we have much in common because of our studies and living on-college. I have immersed myself in the local culture and made friends by joining college meetings, attending the Res College formals and playing games and sports with my roommates. My English is not perfect, but that is not an unsurpassable barrier to communication. My Aussie friends reassured me that nobody would judge my grammar when I was speaking and that they would be focused on listening to my ideas and understanding what I had to say. That encouraged me to speak English with more confidence and helped me to develop my language skills very quickly.

Another distinct difference between China and Australia is that it is normal here for strangers to say ‘Hi’ and smile at you, but in China people will not greet strangers. Also, instead of saying ‘How are you going today?’, ‘Have you had lunch/dinner yet?’ is the most popular way of sending others regards in China.

Starting my career

As a Chinese international student, one of the biggest cultural differences I found throughout my personal experience while living at USQ’s Residential Colleges was how independent Australian students are. It is common for them to earn money from a part-time job in order to afford their tuition, daily expenses and to pay for recreational activities. In comparison, Chinese culture is centred on the family unit. We tend to form our social networks based on our family connections and Chinese parents are more willing to support their children financially until they graduate and get a full-time job, which is a custom that has been passed down through the ages.

My Aussie college friends shared much with me about their work experience and what it is like to have a job in Australia. For example, they explained that if you don’t have a lot of experience you might apply to be an apprentice first or get a certificate. They also discussed with me the mindset of Australian employees. By understanding the culture of work in Australia I was able to get a casual job over the end of year vacation and became more independent, just like the local students.

Being a successful student

Living on-college in the closest accommodation to the University campus has helped me to be more efficient in my studies. On the one hand, I live in self-catered accommodation, which means I can prepare all my own meals and then take them across to uni with me when I have class or study to do. This has been important for me because it means I can eat the nutritious food that I enjoy, which keeps me focused and healthy for my studies. On the other hand, sometimes I won’t leave the library until midnight but, fortunately, I don’t need to be concerned about my safety or walking home alone because I can call the USQ Security team and they will drive me back to college. Living on-college means you can be more flexible with when you study and can adjust your study schedule around other things.

I have never regretted my decision to live at Residential Colleges. If I didn’t live here I wouldn’t have been brave enough to push myself into the local culture, to cook with my Aussie friends in the same kitchen and share our food as well as our experiences. The biggest and most important benefit is that it has helped me to improve my English quickly. In my opinion, only by digging into the social background and mentality of native English speakers can we as international students hope to communicate with them effectively. College life has enriched my studies and my whole experience of living abroad and I recommend it to any student coming to Australia for their studies!

Are you interested in studying with USQ and exploring the Australian lifestyle? Contact the USQ International team to find out more about your study options! To learn more about the USQ Residential Colleges and how living on-campus can enhance your study experience, check out the Res Colleges tag on Social Hub.


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Jessica: 4 unexpected things I’ve learned from studying in Australia

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