It has been four months since I took my first steps on Australian soil. My voyage from India saw me travel 7,500 kilometres, three flights and 26 hours for this “once in a lifetime experience”. When I arrived in this island country, I was awestruck by the natural beauty of Queensland. The splendiferous beaches and unique flora and fauna are a treat to the eyes. Doing my postgraduate degree in engineering in such a scenic place is a dream come true.
I chose Rockhampton for my study destination because the campus here is the main one. The “uni-life” which I desired to experience is here. The other most important reason was, since Rockhampton is a small town, the university’s community involvement is always at the next level which will help me grow professionally and personally.
Keep reading for my personal experience so far in this beautiful country…
Laid-back Culture and Informalities
While I was changing my flight from Brisbane to Rockhampton, I was taken aback by the friendliness of the people here. I was stuck with checking my luggage when an Aussie voluntarily came over and helped me out. I also found that Leisure time is taken seriously indeed. Australians are very easy-going and love to spend their weekends at the beaches hanging out and relaxing after a busy week. I would also say Aussies are very polite as they use “Please”, “Sorry” and “Thank you” very often.
In India, I was used to addressing my lecturers as “Sir” or “Madam” but here it is completely different. In Australia, you can call almost anyone by their first name, even though it sounds rude in India and many other countries, it’s normal here – another sign of the laid-back Aussie culture.
When I first came here, I noticed that the shops started closing at around 8 – 9 pm which was very early. Cafes and restaurants often shut by 9 pm. If you want to have a late-night meal, the only option would be drive-through fast food chain. Unlike the Asian countries, food stalls and live music are not that common on the Australian streets. Generally, Australians are early risers hence they do go off to sleep early in the night which results in an early dinner.
Australians are crazy about sports. India and Australia share a long cricketing history, and things were spiced up recently because we had the cricket world cup during the previous term. Australians astonishingly play numerous sports like rugby, swimming, tennis and list goes on and on. The fancy costumes and crazy merchandise we see the people wearing in a sports game on the television is a reality here which I’ve witnessed quite often. The complete madness and aura of fan support is unparallel. The biggest events being the AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League).
Make the words SHORT
Aussies (there you go!) use shortened forms of words in their day-to-day verbal communication. Commonly used shortened terms are “brekky” for breakfast, “Maccas” for MacDonald’s, and “Servo” for gas or petrol station. Sometimes these slang words are very confusing at first, but I guess with time I started catching on and even started using a few myself. I feel this language barrier is bound to fall once you start mixing around with more people and start talking with them.
Unlike in India, Australians use less or no cash. I have hardly used cash in any store since arriving here. PayWave technology is quite common , so losing cash is minimized. Even when I use cash, I don’t need to carry the change because each shop can give me the exact change right down to the cents which is uncommon in India where shopkeepers give change of a bigger denomination.
These are just some of the differences I’ve noticed. I’ve found from speaking with other students that sometimes these differences can cause a phenomenon called ‘culture shock’. My personal suggestions to overcome these difficulties are:
- Mix with everyone and don’t keep only to your own cultural background group because I guarantee Australians are the sweetest and most supportive people and socialising is very important while studying.
- Take professional help from the university services or other external organisations.
- Do talk with family and friends regularly and get involved with the celebrations like Easter, ANZAC day or the State of Origin.
- Have a good sense of humour and don’t take all things personally because Australians love to crack jokes.
I hope this advice will help make your journey from “Namaste” to “G’day Mate!” smooth.
If you are struggling with cultural shock, feeling homesick or would just like to talk to someone, the University has a free counselling service available to all students. Please contact them for support.
Jeet Mukherjee is a current Master of Engineering student and member of the Social Squad – a group of content creators helping to promote student and campus life at CQUniversity.