“When we were leaving Hong Kong, there was a choice between the USA and Australia. My father chose Australia because he’d spent many of his school days here. To him, it was an obvious choice. Being two years old, I had very little to say about it.
I’ve been here practically my whole life – Australia is home. However, when I was growing up, my brother and I were two of the only Chinese kids in school. When you’re a kid, you’re not aware that you’re different until someone tells you.
My parents were both working and weren’t around much as we’d emigrated with nothing. They worked hard to afford the house repayments and to give us a good quality of life. So I had a lot of time on my hands, riding my bike around and causing a lot of mischief.
One day my best friend, an Aussie kid, invited me to dinner. It was my first dinner with an Australian family, so I thought it was going to be cool. Now in my house, you make a lot of noise when you eat, which shows that you enjoy the food. I was slurping the soup, munching on the chicken with my mouth open and generally making a lot of eating noises when my friend’s dad said, ‘Learn some table manners, you need to eat with your mouth closed. Don’t make chewing sounds’. It was a complete shock! That was my introduction to a culture that I thought I knew, but really didn’t.
They also had alcohol at the table, which I tried and found to be amazingly horrible. It made me quit drinking even before I even knew what drinking actually was.
These experiences played a huge role in shaping my perspective.
My advice to new migrants: The worst thing you can do is find other people like yourself and stick with them, but that’s usually what you will do because it’s easy and comfortable. If you do this, you don’t get to experience Australia’s real way of life. Instead, do your best to find interest groups or people not necessarily from your country and get to know the real Australia.”