Experience at Taylor’s College and Sydney
I am a recent graduate from Taylor’s College Sydney, I have attained a GPA (Grade Point Average) of 9.0/10.0 entering Bachelor of Commerce/Law at the University of Sydney. Since I have been in Sydney, I have always wanted to share my experience. There certainly were enlightening experiences, but there were also inevitable challenges and obstacles along the way that would have hindered success if was not for the mental preparation I had received and strong will.
I was one of the first batch of 334 students and had completed the HKDSE with rather unsatisfactory results. I was not particularly keen on the idea of studying abroad at that time probably because I have lived in Hong Kong all my life and I was not ready to step out of my comfort zone. But as I had not gotten the desired university offer in Hong Kong, I had no choice. I then decided to do as much research as I could to familiarise myself with life in Australia. In hindsight, doing research was definitely the best thing to do before going abroad. I had done research on the Internet, gone to various expos, talked with friends who were studying abroad and attended the sharing sessions of Australian university graduates provided by the AAC. With all the clear goals and expectations I had in mind, I felt more comfortable with the idea of studying in Australia after all the effort.
When I first arrived in Australia, I immediately noticed the pleasant autumn weather, it was rather dry and sunny with a nice breeze. However, the weather would sometimes be quite unpredictable, it might be sunny one minute and raining the next; warm one minute and chilly the next. So checking the weather forecast every day before leaving home is essential. Nevertheless, Australia has one of the most moderate and pleasant climate in the world.
Settling down in Sydney, involves strenuous work being done. You would have to apply for a bank card; register with a new telephone service provider; set up your internet connection; learn how to pay bills; familiarize yourself with your neighborhood and the school area; buy groceries; buy furniture in some cases; step out of your comfort zone and get to know new friends et cetera. Though these are not easy work, you would find yourself in a more comfortable position and more at home after all the effort.
Another major problem for me was of course the language barrier. As Hong Kongers, we are more used to the British and American English accent. We do not often listen to Australian English. In the 18th century, the Englishmen landed in Botany Bay, Sydney, the English language thus, was brought to Australia. The Australian accent is actually a variation of the British accent, some people describe the Australian accent as a more strong toned version of the British English, but no, their accent does not sound like English prisoners or farmers. A lot of teachers, lecturers and professors here are Australian, thus they will have an Australian accent. Many students that I have encountered made this an excuse for their poor grades, saying that ‘I can’t understand the lecturer’s Australian accent!’ or ‘I can only understand British English because I am from Hong Kong!’ These people are doomed to fail. The Australian accent is a beautiful accent with little variations from the British English, so if you still cannot understand this accent after one month, it might be your lack of English proficiency. If that is really the case, then read more, speak more, write more and open yourself to the locals, there are no shortcuts to this, only practice makes perfect.
No, studying is not easier in western countries. A lot of you may come to Australia thinking that you have escaped from the hardships of studying, and thinking that since you have failed and left Hong Kong, you automatically become the first honour student in Australia. These do not happen. Yes, the mode of learning and teaching might be different in Australia and some people find it more comfortable learning in western countries. Nevertheless, success only comes through perseverance and determination.
Above all, studying in Australia is an eye-opening experience. This international community allowed me to interact with people from all over the world, I have made friends with Indians, Pakistanis, Canadians, British, Mainlanders, Australians, Vietnamese et cetera. I have also become more independent through all the challenges thrown at me. I have also acquired essential life skills, become more organized and overall, a happier person. Finally, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to AAC and Joshua Tang, my agent for guiding me through all the complex procedures and heavy work.