“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring” – Catherine Pusifer
This isn’t far from the truth. When I planned to study in Australia as an international student, one of my main motives was to know and understand an entirely new culture and people. Having a network of friends or colleagues from different backgrounds not only helps you in having a great social outlook towards people from all walks of life, but also helps you in understanding cultural differences and embracing them wholeheartedly.
For me, embracing my own culture has taken some time. You see, being born into an Indian family in the United Arab Emirates, a Middle Eastern country, was in itself amusing yet confusing. I grew up in an environment wherein my tastes and interests were all a combination of Indian and Middle Eastern preferences. Naturally, I also studied in a culturally diverse school which catered to many backgrounds such as Arab, Indian, Asian and even European. Truly, I learned the values of cultural diversity through sharing and embracing these preferences.
Being born and brought up in a different country which wasn’t my own and living there for 20+ years not only taught me values such as kindness, empathy and cultural appropriation, but also widened my mind and spirit when it came to different backgrounds. So when I came to Australia, I was more than ready to embrace these cultural differences. And I must say, truly Australia stood its test of being a country welcoming all backgrounds.
From the moment I entered the Brisbane international airport, to my journey to my accommodation, I was met with different people. The immigration officers were Australians while the driver who drove me to my accommodation was Singaporean! What truly stood out to me was how polite and respectful these people were. I usually believe in the quote “first impression is the best impression” and truly, Australia and especially Brisbane have treated me well in the past two years.
I remember talking to the driver on my first day in Brisbane, saying how nervous I was and hoping my background wouldn’t be an issue here. The man looked at me and said, “If one doesn’t embrace cultural differences then how do you expect to live peacefully?” How insightful that was that?
Within the last two years of my life in Australia, I have met more than 30 people from different backgrounds, heritages and cultures. To say that we all look different is true but the fact remains that we all respect and embrace each other. Obviously studying at Griffith University has been a wonderful opportunity for me to meet various people from all walks of life.
Whether it be having coffees and pancakes with my roommates or having group study with my classmates, I am surrounded by different backgrounds everyday which lets me understand and enjoy different cultures. You know the world is a beautiful place when you are surrounded by people who do not look or act like you, but do share the value of being unified in diversity.