Where is the heart?
First published by Woroni, the ANU Student Newspaper, on 16 February 2015. By AZIM ZAIN.
Many ANU students from overseas find themselves torn between their cultural home and a love for their new country.
I'm an international student but I'm told that it doesn't really show. Whatever that really means.
I made the move from Malaysia to Australia since February 2009.
I've been living and studying in Australia for about six years now, give or take summer and winter holidays.
During the most recent summer break, I went home and I felt something that seems to have been bubbling away for a while now.
Home is starting to feel less like home and more like a holiday.
As great as it is seeing the ol' family, as great as Malaysian food is, I increasingly feel like I no longer belong there.
I'm sure this is something quite a few international students in my position might feel.
For a long time, we feel like foreigners in a strange land, attempting to deal with that unspoken pressure to conform and adapt to a new environment.
Some may find groups of people with similar experiences and cultures and join them instead, as it is always easy to connect with similar people.
However, some learn to speak and act as the locals do.
They embrace their interests and concerns as their own (I have learned to love Vegemite and the AFL).
The issue that I have, however, is that after so much time has been spent growing as a person, I am still tethered to my homeland.
By family. By familiarity. By culture. Yet at the same time, there is a disconnect with certain aspects of where I come from.
I still feel that connection to my people, my culture and its traditions. I once exploded at my own (Caucasian Australian) girlfriend for making remarks insensitive to the experiences of international students and immigrants in the heat of argument.