I have been trying to put my thoughts in writing, but I never make it a priority. However, I am glad I post this now.
My goal this semester is trying to get more friends, but then I am intrigued with how the ‘social system’ works.
I am proud to say I have found some friends in Melbourne. All of them are Asians; Singaporean, Pakistani, Vietnamese and Chinese. But I don’t know why I don’t have the courage to start talking to non-Asian students. It’s too intimidating for me. Not that I don’t wanna know them better. I have this prejudice and it hampers my effort to further approach people. All I want is getting to know their way of thinking. I just wanna be a friend. But I don’t know why it’s so difficult.
Let me elaborate my prejudice:
1. Chinese students are making friend with other Chinese students.
The number of Chinese students in Monash is ridiculous. They are everywhere! 60-70 per cent of my classmates are Chinese. Sometimes I think I am not in Australia. I am not saying it’s bad, it’s just indicating how great this Chinese are doing. I am jealous they have so many opportunities to go to good school overseas. I wish more Indonesians could get the chance. They are very competitive and they are ready for the challenge. Imagine what will these people do in the next 5 or 10 years? They’ll probably be holding important positions in national or multinational companies and we need to be ready to compete with them.
My biggest problem with Chinese students are understanding their English accent. Sometimes I give up and just nod my head or smile because I TOTALLY DON’T get what they are saying. Most times they are speaking mandarin (or other different dialects I don’t understand) to fellow Chinese. I feel left out, but I do understand it’s easier to communicate in your own mother language. So why bother speaking English when you’re friends are all Chinese, right? People always gather with those they can relate to. So yeah, they make their own group of Chinese students in the class. Well, there is probably one or two Chinese students who are not joining the group, but I am pretty sure it is because this person is either born in Australia or have already pursued study in Australia for some years.
2. Non-Asian (Australian, New Zealander, European, American) are finding it easier to make friend with people whom official language is English.
I notice this situation in my class. When we have group assignment, they will try to get another non-Asian to be part of the group. Sometimes I think it’s unfair because I want to be chosen as part of their group. My reason is as simple as because I love the dynamic of working with people from different background and nationality. I want to know how it feels working with American/ European/ Australian! But I can’t get inside ‘their circle’. Sometimes I feel these people are actually the ones who are feeling intimidated with the ‘uprising’ and the domination of Asian people. That’s probably why they made this invisible line to keep their distance from the Asians.
3. I feel more comfortable not being in the same group of Indonesian.
I am kinda weird, I celebrate the fact that there is no Indonesian students in my class. I know some of Indonesians in the campus, but I am not really close to them (oh well, there’s an exception for my office mates who are also pursuing their master degree in Monash. They are the best! Guy friends are far from any drama and I love it!) So yeah, I don’t really have good Indonesian friends in my campus and I really don’t mind. I enjoy it :-)
4. It’s easier to make friend with Asian (Chinese not included)!
The fact that I am Asian gives a certain comfort to start a communication with other Asian students. They are friendly. Sometimes I don’t have to worry if they don’t understand my English, because we can always use sign language to understand each other. Sometimes we can only smile or laugh when we don’t understand each other. It’s not embarrassing. I don’t know how it started, but my ‘close’ friends are from Singapore and Pakistan. Well, we are probably not that close, but at least we hang out together. We went to cinema to celebrate our last assignment of the semester. We ‘liked’ each other’s Facebook pictures or updates. I believe it’s a stage of friendship.
5. Some people just simply love being ‘unaligned’ to anything.
Campus life is just like high school, you found different group of people with different interest. There are also people who prefer to be on their own. I cannot speak for them, there must be reasons. But I really don’t know how to survive campus life on my own. Whether I like it or not, there will be time when I should do group assignments. It will be better to work with a group of people I have known. Besides, killing time in campus will be boring when you only listen to your iPod :p
6. Most Asian students struggle with presentation.
English is not out first language so it requires special skill to do the presentation. I am not saying Asian are not smart, Asians are smart! Sometimes we’re just having difficulties to articulate ideas. Language barrier is not a simple thing. You cannot convince people when you don’t speak their language. My campus offers activities to accommodate those who want to improve their English, but in my opinion, the key to speak English fluently is having conversation to people who speak English! But then we are back to the first issue; Most Asians don’t really make friend with Non-Asians. I really hate this actually. I realised I probably the one who is making ‘the boundaries’. I am not confident and too shy to start talking to people. I realise I cloud my judgement with so many ‘unproven’ prejudice.
I won’t justify these prejudice for other people. So don’t make any conclusion from what I said :p I just love paying attention to what people do and what I wrote is based on my flawed observation :-) I don’t mean being a racist or anything.
“Choose your friends and mates, not by the money in their bank account, creed, ethnicity, or color; instead, choose character, actions, heart, and soul. When we bleed, we bleed the same color.”
― Ana Monnar