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‘When I got off the airplane in Australia on my first day, I saw many Chinese instructions in the airport that made me feel very happy’ -Ben (from China and is an English student at Universal Institute of Technology in Melbourne) 

I’m Ben from China. When I got off the airplane in Australia on my first day, I saw many Chinese instructions in the airport that made me feel very happy. I didn’t wait in line to exit from the gate because there are some self-help exits for some countries. I just needed to scan my passport, then I could leave the airport. 

I felt so excited because I was going to have a new life here with no friends and no relatives. I need to fix every problem alone, sounds like I’m a brave guy, right? No, I’m not, definitely not. I was so depressed because I had no job, no suitable house to rent and everything is expensive here – until I met two friends. Then I started to enjoy my new life! 

For a new person here, I have to learn the stuff that is different from my country, for instance, when I cross at a zebra crossing, you need to press the button because the light won’t turn to green if nobody presses it. Also, I want to praise those drivers who are very polite, most of them will stop when people are walking or going to pass. I really appreciate that. 

Moreover, it’s really different about how to greet somebody. I know English speakers would like to say “Hi! Nice to meet you” or “How are you?” but when I went to the Woolworth’s and checked out, the cashier said, “How is it going?” I was so confused because she said it so fast that I heard “How’s going?” Of course, I didn’t know that’s the same meaning of “How are you?” So I just answered “I’m going home”and she stared me two seconds with a blank face. I was so stupid, right? 

Actually, the more stupid thing that I did was I spent almost $30 in Melbourne free tram zone to take trams. I saw the “free tram zone” words on the board, but I also saw some people touched on and off their myki cards in the free tram zone when they exited. I got confused then I touched on my myki too just for safety. (Editors note: Find out about how to use myki in Melbourne here!) 

There are still loads of interesting and strange things happening to me. So, I suggest overseas students like me to do some preparation first for avoiding some awkward mistakes.