Just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I’m an international student
I didn’t think I had such a heavy Asian accent, but it seems some people can’t tell that I’m not an international student! I don’t have anything against international students, but it’s just amusing to observe how quick people are to stereotype.
Example 1: Someone sees me walking down the street and hands out promos to Asian people. I wonder if it’s for a new predominantly Asian club like Bamboo, but it’s not. It says: “International students, this is your chance to win an iPad!” Dammit. If I could fool them into giving me the promo, then I could definitely trick them into giving me an iPad because I’m so international-looking. My kimono just screams out ‘international’, doesn’t it.
Example 2: A classmate will ask me what country I’m from or when I came to Australia. When I say I was born here, they’d say “Yeah I was gonna say that your English is really good.” Hmm. Thanks? I’d hope so. Now that I think about it, it’s kind of insulting to say that only people who were born in Australia could possibly have good English. Sorry to all the British, American, Canadian or other English-capable migrants in Australia, your English just isn’t up to scratch for some people. Actually, I think some international students’ English (grammar, spelling, etc) are a lot better than people who were born here who still don’t know when something should be plural or in past tense, or can’t tell the difference between “there” and “their”.
And then there are people who are ‘surprised’ that I don’t have some kind of an accent, or that I can actually form some sort of coherent sentence in English. Is it really that surprising to find someone who can properly speak English in an English-speaking country? I didn’t realise Australian standards have sunk so low.
Example 3: Sometimes librarians or tutors will speak to me slowly or loudly when I ask a question but will speak normally to other people. Sometimes I feel like saying, “I’m foreign, not deaf!”
Example 4: I’m walking down the street and a girl stops me. She starts speaking Chinese to me. I say, “I don’t understand.” She kind of laughs at me and then walks away. Jeez, if real international students assume that all Asians are international students, I guess there’s not much hope for me.
I’m not offended by this behaviour (I don’t think I’m offended by anything), but it is quite funny. The funnier thing is, I’ll be studying in Japan in about a year and a half and I think it’s likely that people will think I’m a local because I’m Asian, when I’m really an international student.