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.


About lildoro

I'm a uni student who procrastinates way too much. I like saying stuff about things.

Posted on May 30, 2010, in Mindless Dribble and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. lol #4 happens to me heaps
    usually they just laugh cos of the situation, actually they dont really laugh in my case, they just smile and nod a “thank you anyways”
    sometimes i reply “mou sik teng ah” and my canto sounds legit hahaha but no one has ever gone back and said “are you sure?” lol

  2. I remember talking on the phone to one of Zac’s agents (his name was danny i think) about inspecting an apartment. I went to the place to meet him and a guy in a suit comes out. He got out his phone and started calling someone and my phone starts to ring. He realised he was meant to meet me and we started chatting. He was like “On the phone, I was thinkin i was talking to a blonde surfie guy.”

    I’ve also had some old man in japan try to ask me for help with an atm. I said “Sumimasen” and we parted ways. Asians seem to look the same to asians too =p

  3. “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”.

    Working closely with many teachers and educational staff members, they have told me frankly that they find the students with the “best English” are international students or rather, students who speak English as a Second Language. Especially so are students from Hong Kong and although there oral communication may not be up-to-par with those of us who speak English on a daily basis, their written communication is superb, spelling and grammatical structure. In a way, maybe international students put in more effort to learn English and use it properly as opposed to those “born using it” and thus from an academic standpoint appear more outstanding, but it is indeed true that looking at some of my peers back in high school who utilize English natively, really scared me at how low English proficiency is in Canada.

  4. Greetings from NZ!!/your neighbour. 🙂 🙂

    Everything underlined in your post happens to me on a regular basis. I am not an international student. But unlike you, English IS my second language and I spent most of my childhood in China. Although I find it hard to detect, I realise I may also carry a faint Chinese accent.

    I used to LOATHE the world when number 4 pops up. hehehe. JUST KIDDING 🙂 But seriously – I am still amazed that the colour of my skin should bear any consequence before I even have the chance to open my mouth. I find that the people who stereotype are generally the oblivious/ignorant/uneducated members …..in the wider society.

    I’ve learned to, literally, laugh out loud when I detect signs of prejudice and realise that it is just a a shameful but inevitable part of life.

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