CB5. My personal history in moving to a new country

15 May CB5. My personal history in moving to a new country

“Sydney is the daughter city of London” was my impression when I first arrived in Australia. It would take many years for me to be convinced that I have arrived in the “Lucky Country”. There is a lot to like about living in Australia as I have my abode here year after year.

move abroad
  1. After my return to Malaysia from Europe – I was in the United Kingdom and the (European) Continent for a period of one month sightseeing, and taking in what I have seen like a sponge – I learnt that my studies were to be continued overseas, in Australia.
  2. The reason for the ‘sojourn’ overseas was that it became clear that there would be better opportunities for a student like me (to become ‘someone substantial’) in another country, where very good education is provided. Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada are famous places for young Malaysian students to go to, in order to continue their studies.
  3. The thought of continuing my studies overseas was exciting. The application process to study in Australia was relatively easy and I received my overseas student visa within three months. Of course, my family (my benefactor) had to sign documents to ensure that all my costs in studying overseas would be paid.
  4. The first object was to undertake pre-university studies in Sydney, Australia, and this would start in the following calendar year. I bid my time that year and took my flight to Sydney in January 1982.
  5. Arriving in Sydney, I discovered that the roads in Sydney have similar names to the roads in London. Even the main park has the same name of Hyde.
  6. The weather in Sydney is better (cooler) than in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and also better (warmer) than in London, England.
  7. People whom I have come to meet were generally articulate, nice and polite, but a little distant. Making friends took a bit longer than in the past.
  8. Sense of humour. There is a lot of that in Australians. At first, I was taken aback by some of the crude (or unrefined) jokes made, but after a few months, I got used to them.
  9. My pre-university studies were undertaken in Homebush Boys High School.
  10. Out of about 100 boys in my year, only 10 were serious students (me included) who wanted to get into university and the rest were just ‘marking time’.
  11. I studied English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Bahasa Indonesia (Bahasa Malaysia was not offered) and General Studies.
  12. I met an English teacher by the name of Jim Kable who till today maintains contact with me.
  13. Jim took me and some of my classmates to meet with Ronald McKie who is the writer of a book called The Mango Tree, which we had studied in class. We went in Jim’s car to Bowral – about one hour from Sydney. This was a highlight. It enthused me further in wanting to read more. I went on to buy Mr McKie’s other book called Echoes from Forgotten Wars – where he wrote about his time as a war correspondent during WW2.
  14. Jim Kable and Ronald McKie left a lasting positive impression on me. They are proud Australians of Anglo-Saxon or Anglo Celtic heritage. Another is Richard Gorrell whom I would discuss in a future blog post.
  15. I applied to do part-time or casual work. I worked as a warehouse assistant and then as a factory worker. I also worked as a kitchen hand. The pay received was good in comparison with what I would get for doing the same job in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So, I was motivated to do many hours.
  16. I worked enough until I was able to buy a second-hand car – a Datsun 120Y (an old Nissan car). I did not use my family’s money to buy this car. It was akin to a luxury item for myself.
  17. With this car, I got to know Sydney really well. I went to Bondi Beach many times. And I went to see my new girlfriend very often.
  18. Girlfriend. Before entering university, I met Aeline – who later became my wife. She and I were mere friends when we first met in Kuala Lumpur. I liked her company and started seeing her regularly in Sydney. We became boyfriend / girlfriend relatively quickly.
  19. Aeline’s family migrated to Australia, whereas I was an overseas student.
  20. Aeline and I ended up in the same university – Macquarie University in North Ryde, Sydney.
  21. Doing the Higher School Certificate (HSC) was tough going. I studied hard. I think studying the HSC was harder than doing my undergraduate course of five years.
  22. Having a car made studying full-time and working part-time convenient.
  23. I earned enough money to holiday back to Malaysia. Aeline went with me. That was in my second year of studying the Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics (majoring in Accounting) program.
  24. I also earned enough to upgrade my car to a Mitsubishi Galant – still a second-hand car, but newer and more comfortable.
  25. A lot of the time spent together with Aeline was in the library of Macquarie University. Aeline studied the Bachelor of Economics (majoring in Accounting) program.
  26. She graduated first and worked at the ANZ Bank as a bank officer.
  27. In the fourth year of my five-year course, Aeline and I decided to marry. We married on 19 December 1987. Around this time, I graduated with my first degree of Bachelor of Economics (majoring in Accounting).
  28. A year later, I graduated with my second degree of Bachelor of Laws.
  29. After the wedding, Aeline and I lived in an apartment in North Ryde which belonged to her parents. Later, Aeline and I bought a house in Winston Hills, near Paramatta in Sydney.
  30. In my fifth and last year of University, my application for Australian Permanent Residence was granted based on Partner or Spouse migration.
  31. My first full-time job was in accounting. The firm put me in the Tax Department since I have a law degree.
  32. Then came my and Aeline’s first born, Melissa.
  33. Family life would be a subject of another blog post.
  34. The first few years of life in the new country went quickly. I think I buried myself in studies although I worked part-time, saw my girlfriend who was supportive of me in my studies and in my work, and ‘went to Bondi Beach’ – my favourite beach.
  35. I think I really started “living and liking it” in Australia after I had worked for a few years full-time and later began my law firm of Comasters.

2 Comments
  • Jim KABLE
    Posted at 18:49h, 01 June Reply

    I see I have a mention – a positive mention – thanks Jeff LEE Tin-Siong! Of course when I taught you in Year 11 at Homebush Boys High you were part of a class of what I recognised as high achievers and I was determined that I would teach the class as such – even though most other members had not the degree of English that you had. I chose books which have an Australian historical perspective: Ronald McKie’s The Mango Tree – leading into the Great War era in a coastal town – a disguised Bundaberg (where the author had himself grown up); and Frances Letters book of time in South-East Asia during the 1960s, The Surprising Asians. I had you write letters to Ronald McKie – he wrote back – eventually – he’d been researching another book in England. By the time I wrote again to thank him for his kindness, I was an Education Officer in a Head Office NSW Dept of Education – and in trying to organise a visit as he had suggested I might make with students, it had slipped into the Christmas holidays. I was able to get in touch with you and your friend PK was visiting from Perth – we three went to Bowral to see Ronald McKie and his wife! Good memories!

    • comasters1
      Posted at 14:29h, 02 June Reply

      Jim, Good teachers will always have a positive influence on their students. Your English classes were interesting and you correctly identified that the Australian word “Dinkum” comes from the Chinese reference to Real Gold. Jeff

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