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.

On 7 May 2019 Faydra Nada Miranda, or Dira to her Aussie friends, shared her story of learning and studying abroad in the United Kingdom. Born and raised in Indonesia, Dira reflected on the cultural differences between Indonesia, England, and Australia. She shared her thoughts about stepping out of her comfort zone and finding new friends in unexpected places during exchange at Curtin University.

[Transcript]

My name is Faydra Nada Miranda and I’m here to talk about my experiences in learning and studying abroad in the UK. So I am actually an accident, I’m an unplanned child, my parents didn’t really want me at first. They had my eldest brother and then they were gonna have a second child together, a girl, and then they got my second brother, so they tried again, for the third time and got a sister, I mean a sister to me, a daughter to them. And then, they were happy, but then five years later they had me. And it was stressful times for them because they weren’t planning on getting another child, and four children is a lot, and they weren’t financially ready so it was a bit of a struggle for both of my parents, but nevertheless I’m born.

Since I was young, I didn’t really know who I am. I was always that good girl, I go by the rules, I obey my parents and yeah I just had high expectations as the last child because all my siblings had set up such a high standard for me. Even in my degree now, it started because my mum invited me to educational organisations and then after that she wanted me to become the minister of education. There was a lot of pressure, and I felt that it was the last chance for me to be able to make my mum’s dream come true. And at the time, I didn’t really know what to do, and I thought, “You know what, I like children so why not? Give it a chance.”

So I went to England, long story short, and people kept saying, “Wow, you’re so brave! You’re the youngest child, you’re a girl and you’re going all the way the England from Indonesia.” And in my head, I felt that it was fine, what was the difference between England, you know it’s far away but it’s still just another country. But little did I know, fifteen-hour flight later, I arrived in England, and it was such a different world, it was cold, everyone was different, they all spoke English, and I got so scared, I cried a lot of times, because I wasn’t sure. I started asking a lot of questions, I kept asking myself, “Is it worth the money? Do I really want this?” I didn’t want to eat. It was really hard, the first day, first week, first month. But then I talked to my parents, and then I talked to my partner at the time, and I got encouraged. As in, I hadn’t really tried it yet, so decided to explore and make the most out of it. It wasn’t easy, there was a lot of language barriers. They had thick accents and I got tired a lot from speaking English, and I was just really lucky at the time that I got a flat full of guys for my accommodation and they were just these tall, European guys and I felt really, really intimidated. I almost wanted to move, but luckily I didn’t. There was a time I went to the kitchen, and one of my flat mates asked, “You alright?” then, I started to think, “Did I not look okay? Did I look ill?” So I answered, “I’m fine, thank you. Why?” because I thought he thought I looked ill, but then he didn’t even look at me, didn’t expect a response and later I found out, that’s just how they say hello, and they don’t really expect a response back. And there all these things different, don’t get me started on the different phrases and words, such as chips and crisps, pants and trousers, jumper and sweater, and then one time I was gonna go camping, and they told me to bring a torch, and I actually thought that I was supposed to bring a torch where there’s fire on top of them, but when I came to camp, it’s actually just their way of saying flashlight, which is really interesting.

Then time after time, I met more people, I had more friends, I became more confident, and I had more time and space to discover myself. I didn’t have to report back to my parents, so I had a lot of decisions to make, which made me really confused, and I was still questioning myself. A lot of my friends at the time also, cause we were first year, did a lot of partying and drinking, and back in my country that was such a taboo thing, personally I didn’t like it, but at the time there was lots of peer pressure. I also met an atheist, and I found that my mind was open, coming from a Muslim country I haven’t really thought about a lot of not having religion, and I just realised that being here, that’s there’s just so much more than I know, there’s a lot of people, very diverse people, and things that I didn’t know was possible. There I am, questioning myself.

After that, there were two significant things that happened to me. One was, I was in an exchange orientation, and I was sitting at a table filled with Americans and Europeans, and I looked at another table in the corner, and I saw that the table was filled with just Asian people. Something that I thought I would probably do before, in my first couple of weeks, because as an Asian I know that we tend to do that. I realised that I’ve grown into such a different person, and I’m really proud of myself, for going out of my comfort zone. And then the second one was, I had troubles with my partner at the time, and then I told my parents, about it, and I got told by them what to do and given suggestions, and I didn’t really want to do what they told me, my heart and my brain said a different thing. And I realised that only I have the answer, I realised that I am who I am and I have no obligation to be a certain way, I actually can do whatever I want without any reason why, and that I’m not alone, that I have my community and friends that love me for who I am, and that it’s okay. I talked to my parents about it, and they both are really proud of me, and they are both really grateful that I was born.

Copyright © 2019 Faydra Nada Miranda

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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