Lunchtime Stories was a live storytelling event at Curtin University. It focused on sharing international students’ stories to inspire understanding and empathy between Curtin peers; and to energise the Curtin community–leaving a positive impact on storytellers and listeners and to refresh their day and minds.Nur Hazirah is a student at Curtin University originally from Singapore. In her story, she explored the negative perceptions many of her peers have towards international students. Hazirah talks candidly about complex family debates, as well as, her own cognitive dissonance and frustrations she encountered before moving to Australia to pursue a Bachelor of Primary Education. Hazirah shared her story on 14 May 2019.
Copyright © 2019 Nur Hazirah
These stories have been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of these stories, please contact the Centre for Stories.
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Hi, it’s Hazirah, and I’m from Curtin University, and I’m doing Bachelor of Primary Education. I’m an international student, and I’m from Singapore.
I don’t know if you guys have seen pictures of international student memes, but if you google them, there’s a lot of them, and one that I found was this lady wearing a LV (Louis Vuitton) sleeping mask, and it says ‘if birdbox was starring international students.’ Yeah, it’s all funny until you start reflecting on them. People have a certain perception towards international students, that we are rich, we are spoilt, we are lucky, but just like any other normal people, we also have our own problems, that we deal differently. Before I came here, I had this big argument with my dad, a very big argument that lasted for months. My dad wants to choose my life, he wants to decide on my career, on my future.
To me, its unfair because, I am the one living this life, and to listen to what he suggests is like, it’s a dilemma, because you want to make them happy, you want to listen to what they want, but at the same time, it’s not something that you want to do. So, yeah we had this big argument and he didn’t give me an option, he told me to continue pursuing engineering which was my background, back in my poly days in Singapore. And also to study overseas, which I didn’t like because I hate separation, I’m an overly attached person.
So, yeah, I gave him this choice, it’s either, one, I am studying engineering but stay in Singapore, or two, go overseas but choose the course that I want. So, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher because it has been a childhood dream, but the reason why he didn’t like my choice, was because in my country, teaching is not paying well. So, he just wants the best for me. So yeah, when I hear all his, you know he always gives me articles on teachers in Singapore are not doing well, they are stressed and whatnot, so he’s not supporting on my choices.
I get angry, like he just don’t respect my decisions, but he totally understand where he’s coming from, because back in his past, he didn’t get to finish high school because he could not afford to pay for his examination. So, his parents couldn’t pay for his exam fees, that he had to ask for his aunt, and his aunt had to break her piggy bank just to make sure he completes his high school. So, it wasn’t a choice for him, it wasn’t easy. Education wasn’t like—education was a privilege for people like him. So, he had to work hard and earn money so that his children don’t have to go through what he go through. So, that’s why he wants the best for us.
I did share this with my friends, on my dad’s decision, and all they had to say was ‘oh you don’t have to worry because you’re rich, and whatnot.’ To me, it’s like, when you don’t understand where I’m coming from, and all you see is the end product, and not the process of it—it wasn’t easy for me to decide. So, then we decided to talk about it, just like father, like daughter, we are stubborn.
So we decided to compromise, and we only get one of what we want. So, he gets to choose that I get to go overseas, and I get to choose my career… my choice of course. So, at the end of the day, I’m here now, studying in Perth, and he’s happy for me. We’ve talked about it and we have settled, because at the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world. We are still blood, we respect each other’s decisions, and I still stick to my principles, but with a little bit of compromising. It can be done, so people shouldn’t stereotype, or see international students as a privileged one, because sometimes its not what we want to do.