02 October, 2007

No.20: Melbourne - Culture Shock

Need I mention that I had culture-shock in Oz? I say....definitely! Lemme write some of my interesting, hilarious, goofed up and first time experiences :P

As informed by my Aussie friends before I went to Melbourne, the climate was very unpredictable. One moment it was sunny and extremely hot and the next instant....there tends to be a downpour! When it's sunny, it's extremely hot and can burn your skin. I can't recollect ever having sun-burn until I went to Melbourne. I ended up buying sunscreen lotion which I never had the need to use before. And during one of these extremely hot days, we'd just stay indoors with our swimsuit on and take a dip in the family pool at various intervals. We needn't even take off our swim-wear; we'd jump into the pool, then would go inside the house to relax and after a while would take another cooling dip in the pool. Though it's summer, when I went out, I learnt to go well equipped to face any kind of weather....I'd mostly take an umbrella and a sweater along :)

Having gone from China where there are lots of people everywhere, I was sometimes a bit lonely and scared the few times I went out walking alone in the empty and deserted streets in Melbourne. By around 7:00 pm, most of the shops are closed in the residential area and people mostly go to bed by 9:00 pm. I'm a latie...I normally go to bed late and I often find it hard to go to bed early. I would either read books or watch television before going to bed. And I just couldn’t have enough of the television. I didn't realize I was yearning for English Channels. In China, all the channels are in Chinese and I hardly watch them. But in Oz...purrr...I spent a lot of time watching the television. It was during my stay in Melbourne that 'Prison Break' was advertised and started airing only after I came back to China. Haven't missed any of the episodes so far...and of course not on the television but through the internet....lolz. In fact, I watched the latest one last night :)

I've often heard of expressions that Churches in the west are deserted and are now used for other purposes. Well, I merely had the general idea but seeing these deserted Churches with my own eyes had a very great impact on me. I was filled with nostalgia seeing Churches at different intervals. It doesn't seem to emit warmth like Churches back home. It looks forlorn and ill-maintained. It was quite saddening to see them. But on the brighter side, that doesn't mean Churches don't exist anymore. I attended services on Sundays in Churches that looks like normal houses but filled with warmth and passionate believers.

Traffic rules are strictly followed in Australia whereas in China and India it's pretty chaotic. Somehow, when friends offered to take me out driving or sight-seeing, I always ended up in the drivers' door side. :) Reason: it's opposed to the driver's side in China. It took me quite awhile to get used to the systems in China, and I had to struggle all over again in Australia. I needed some time to get used to it again. Sigh!

During my stay there, I had one birthday party experience. It was Jen's Birthday. She invited several friends to dine out in a Thai restaurant in the city. Four of us went together and met the others in the restaurant. City life is quite another thing. It's full of life till late in the night. In the restaurant, we had to sit on the floor and were served in Thai style ;) It was quite interesting. One thing I'd like to mention is....all of us made a donation for the meal at the end...quite unlike the tradition I'm used to back home. To us it's always like...it's your birthday? Ahhh...you have to 'treat' me....rite? I understand it's not always expected to 'go dutch' in Oz either. But the idea is quite appealing to me. We get to enjoy...including the birthday girl/boy...not having to pay for everyone. Everybody's happy this way :P

One day, Mar invited me to go to a cinema. I didn't have other plans that day and I was all enthusiastic. She drove me to the Rivoli Cinema in Camberwell, a very famous theatre in Melbourne. The Rivoli Theatre is where the likes of Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon, Daniel Radcliffe (to name a few) had attended the premiere of their new movies. There were several movies to choose from. And there was this new movie called 'The Brokeback Mountain' and looks quite interesting with a western cowboy theme complete with horses, cowboy hats, boots etc. We had no idea what the movie was about and had chosen for the sole reason that it was recently released and looked as though there's gonna be lots of action...we were soon to find out that it's not quite the kind of action we expected :) We bought the tickets, bought some coke and popcorn and were comfortably seated in our seats. The movie started...halfway through the movie, we started to shift uncomfortably with boredom. Imagine the look on our faces after the movie was over.... :o)

Another thing I wanted to do was to see a real live casino. One of those places we don't have back home. Jill had previously offered to take me round the Yarra River and other 'must-visit' places in Melbourne. She agreed to take me to the Crown Casino which was conveniently on the way to the places we were planning to visit. She drove me to the Crown Casino in the evening. It was larger than I expected and was buzzing with life inside. Hundreds of people were there hoping to strike big. I was there merely to see what it looks like so we didn't stay long. I wasn't quite sure if we were allowed to take pictures, but I attempted a few quick shots anyway which, sadly in my hurried state, turns out to be all blurry. Even though I didn't actually take part in the gambling itself, yet it was an interesting experience for me...:)

I often went out walking or sight-seeing on my own and when I went out, I mostly use the Metcard for train, trams and busses.Once, my friend Mar invited me to have lunch in the city. As she was already in the city, I was to go and meet her at Flinder Street. I decided to go by train. I had taken the train once with another friend and I was confident I could make it to the city. I waited for the train in Auburn Station, boarded the same (I thought) train my friend and I took before. I'm pretty good in remembering landscapes/landmarks. As I was quite confident that I took the right train, it was after several stops that I looked out the window and realized I could not recognize the places we passed by. I quickly looked at my map and when we stopped at the next station, I realized I went right the opposite direction from the city towards Lilydale ! Hahahaha...It was too late for me to get down at that station but I got down in the next station. I rang up my friend and explained the situation. We had a hearty laugh during lunch.

Once, the B's took me shopping in a mall not very far from their house. I was meaning to buy Aussie souvenirs. But imagine my disappointment whenever I looked at the tag in the clothes, shoes and many other items. On it were written....'Made in China'! Thud! I didn't come all the way from China to buy Chinese made souvenirs...:)
Another time I went shopping with Kel, we were to go to the second floor and had to use the escalator. There were many people that day and the escalator was in frequent use. Once on the escalator, I found that the people going up were all standing to the left side. I innocently stood beside my friend to her right. I was finding it rather odd why all the people chose to stand only to the left. Hmmm....something's going on but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Must be cultural thingy....On reaching the top, I asked Kel why all the people stood to the left. She replied saying that the right side is often made empty so that people who are in a hurry could speed up by walking on the right side. Arre....I wished she had told me that earlier....or perhaps she was afraid she might offend me...dunno what but I felt like a complete fool. No wonder, several people who were behind me were looking up at me with those curious and questioning eyes...*_*
(All the names are shortened)


  1. @ Prison Break: Haha! I'm a bigger fan than you are. We used to download the episodes from the net the day they were released in the US thanx to people who uploaded it. I was completely crazy about it, and I still am. Now its time for the much awaited season 3. woohoo!

    @ driver seat: lolz. Remends me of my friend Ishwar. Dude spent a month (just a month) vacation in US, and when he landed back in India, his cousin went to pick him up from the airport. Ishwar met his cousin, proceeded to the parking lot, and then got in to the driver seat and sat. His cousin asked, "what the heel are you doing, you don't know how to drive", to which Ishwar reacted, "Oh! its the driver seat! Sorry, in US we sit on the left side and I got used to it". Yeah right, he was in US for just a month, and like he couldn't see the steering wheel? :)

    @ Birthday treats: Yeah, thats the culture shock many of the foreign exchange students at my college in Bangalore gets. Here in India (and maybe there in China), birthday treats are sponsored by the Birthday boy/girl. But at other places, its the friends of the birthday person who throw the party.

    @ Brokeback Mountain: You think you were in an umcomfortable situation? I was watching that movie with two of my guy friends, and I've never been in a more uncomfortable situation than that! lolz. We fast forwarded most of the part, and eventually never finished seeing it. lolz.

    @ escalator left side: lolz. i in hmeh tawp, manner nei miah lova mi lo block te hi. :)

  2. @Illusionaire: Vei lama din tur tih ka thiannu in min hrilhlo kha chu pen kerh ka chak tak2 ani :)

    Ahh, now I understand...so it was while you guys were watching B.Mountain that you realised you're..ermmm...'guay'...hahahhaha

  3. haha..ngaihthlaknawm ve leee..kan Bak Daktawr chu ram pawh hmu zau ta hle mai.Hetiang thiltawn ngaihthlak hi bengvar thlak ka ti .

    Kima chu koment thui ve le,in-nun a phal mi aaa..:DD

  4. Ku Seki, nang tehmeuh in a ngaihnawm ilo ti chu lomom hle mai...ka chet chhiat na lai ho anih vang chauhva ngaihnawm ti inih loh hram ka beisei...hahaha

  5. Having gone from China where there are lots of people everywhere, I was sometimes a bit lonely and scared the few times I went out walking alone in the empty and deserted streets in Melbourne. By around 7:00 pm, most of the shops are closed in the residential area and people mostly go to bed by 9:00 pm This is weird. !!!!

    and that driver seat & left side is LOL!!! interesting

  6. Yea mnowluck, cultural differences can be quite shocking at first and interesting at the same time....:)

  7. When I first met Jinx and mnowluck in person, their faces scared me so much that I not only got culture shock, I also got traditional shock, emotional shock, heritage shock, racial shock, ethnic shock, scary shock, heart-attack shock, high blood pressure shock, human being shock, mankind shock, ngurthangvela shock, India shock, pakistan shock, etc etc shock, blah blah blah shock, every type of shock!


    I don't know what type of shock I will get if I meet Sekibuhchhuak in person. I heard he's worse than Jinx and mnowluck. I am dreading it! Haha.

  8. Illusionaire, lemme simply coin one word for you for all the shock's you've mentioned.....'WOW' shock..:P

    I'm warning you...when you meet Sekibuhchhuak, you'll roll your eyes, bite your tongue, convulse and then faint...:o)

  9. jinx - swimsuit pic (ringawt ka buaipui :P) a te eee, a hla ltk a, a dang rawn post leh la! Beauty contest ni lo a Mizo swimsuit ha lai ka hmu ve chak tlats! LOL

  10. Jerusha, ka hrethiam ltk che,,,hak ngai loh phei chuan rilru a kap ve duh reuh ltk..mahse 'thil engkim hi engmahlo mai alo ni' tih kha han changchawi ve top la...dik vek mai ang :o)
    Pic lian kalo post chuan contest a tel turin min sawm ang tih ka hlau alom...hahhaha

  11. heti chuan zin ve ang tluk deuhthaw kanni alom,ka kallohna chiahin a dal ta:)jinx te,i blog visit anuam top!

  12. Sino te, va han ti lomom tak iam. Tikhan i chhiar apiangin min kalpui ani mai alom...tiro :)

  13. @Kima+Hma-i :hahah..nge helai ah i lo pawt zawt zawt a..:)Kan in hmuh hun chu i chalah pa pen ang che a nga,i uite ka tiduhdah bawk ang....:))

    Jinx leh mnowluck ai chuan tha sim sim :D:P.Thlalak aiin ka tha heu :))

  14. Thiannu,your 'shock' are shocking.. hehheh.but they do add spices to our lives,make life more interesting..don't they ? :)

    First time I came here I always thought the vehicles were all on the wrong side of the road and that they were going to crash into each other ,hahhaha.

    Talk about culture shock, there are so many instances..maybe we all can write em up and post em...:)

    I totally,fully,completely.. empathise with u in all aspects :))

    Nice pics ...droooollllll lolzzz

  15. @Seki: Engvak ka soi lovang. Hla ami ka quote ringawt ang.
    "HMU TU TEN AN HRE FO...." :P

    @C.Treasures: I'm interested in cross-culture...so these cultural differences sure do stirs up my life :)

    Now that you've come up with a topic...why don't u update ur blog with your culture-shock experiences in China. It'll definitely make an interesting read...:P

  16. restaurant ah khan ke hlang chunga chaw ei tur tihna nge..lol

  17. Maruat, ke hlan chang nilo...bawkkhup, bungbu, zangthal..mahni duh duh dan in a ei theih. Free ishtyle vek mole...hehehe

  18. Illu, tunlai chu ka buai ltk a ka update hman thlots lo...:(

  19. Center shock chewing gum i pailo nia :-) phir si vek mai ang. Ti hi chuan i thlahrung hauhloin fa neih veleh Ramfangzaui/a tih ka rawn phuah dawn a nia :-)

    Ngaihnawm satliah mai lo a a ropui zek zuk a ni e :-)

  20. Lal Sompui, ti lomom ve, ilo leng lut ve zuk a :) Center shock anlo zuar lova thil dangin ka shock ta vel mai2 nih kha :o)