It’s been 2 years since I move to Perth. I still find it quite challenging to settle in. I am not sure if I am getting older and less adaptive. Or else, it is because this move is not for study, or work, or travel as I used to. It is solely a family reunion. That means it is full of possibilities, and lack of directions. In 2016, it was crazy. I was in the process of getting driving license, finding a place to live, seeking employment or study opportunities. In 2017, it is still crazy, but I re-establish VAI YOGA, meet lots of interesting people at both work and community events, and learn lots of new things. I am glad I get a bit more understanding of Perth too. It is time to reflect on my 2017:
1. Understanding Perth
I find out everyone loves Bunnings. I feel really isolated in Perth before I know Bunnings. Everyone likes DIY and gardening in his/her houses. They are so excited about their projects, fixing toilets, building steps, etc. I used to live in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong. We don't have energy left to DIY after working long hours. We also don’t live with front yards as well as backyards. Many of us see mangos but never see a mango tree in our life.
Gumtree is also a very interesting platform that you feel more connected with Perthians. When you buy or sell, someone's lifestyle is somehow exposed to you, which may be completely different from you. My husband bought a motorbike from a guy who lives in Rockingham. WOW,…His house is in the middle of nowhere, 13 acres bush land, with a few dogs, a few horses, a few motorbikes, a few cars, etc. The seller is an interesting person. Some others mark up a price of a second hand item higher than a market price of a brand new item. Some others put an ad up and it is free to good home. How funny! We never go to a stranger’s home in Hong Kong.
I used to be a public transport person and enjoy a convenient city life. In Hong Kong, we are able to access to almost all necessities in 20 minutes travel time. "I don't yet arrive" is now always in my mind when I need to go somewhere. Having said that, Perth is such a gigantic and multicultural city. Everyone has more choices if you are willing to travel and look for new experiences. I find more Asian cuisines here than in Hong Kong. I discover many beloved Asian dishes that I’ve never tried before, including Burmese noodle soup Mohinga (hot and sour fish based broth with intense aromatic ingredients) in Girrawheen, Cambodian Amok (diced emperor fish steamed in coconut cream, egg, lemongrass and lime leaves) in Mount Hawthorn. So yum!
Choices of lifestyle in Perth are beyond my imaginations. I’ve met people living in 10- acre bush land with horses and cows. Some others have caravans parked in their front yards and ready to go camping anytime, or live near the beach and enjoy all sorts of water activities. In Hong Kong, we all live in apartments, just a matter of bigger or smaller.
2. Improving English
I am embarrassed to tell you I learned English since I was in kindergarten. However, we never speak English in our daily life in Hong Kong. We are able to write and read, but not speak and listen. Since we don’t have an English-speaking environment, our English is from textbook. Now I know some words like ‘muffin top’, ‘sillybilly’, and so on. It’s funny. I did a few accent reduction trainings. Apparently it is hard to change our accent after 12 years old, but we are able to train our mouth muscles to pronounce some sounds correctly. For example, Cantonese, my first language, doesn’t have any sound you need to put your tongue between upper and lower teeth (the "th" sound). So I practice that. Lucky enough, Perth is very multicultural and they get used to communicating with others in different accent.
3. Meeting lots of people
This is the best part of my life in Perth. I feel alive when I interact with different people who share their life experiences with me. I am grateful I meet lots of interesting and nice people through my work as a yoga teacher. I do chair yoga for seniors in Bassendean 55 plus. One of my students, a 80 year-old man, takes the responsibilities of setting up the room with chairs. He told me in the old days, there are clear roles and responsibilities between women and men. Women do cooking and washing while men do heavy work. I like this gentleman very much. I met a lady who came to Perth by boat 30 years ago due to communism in Vietnam. She told me in those days, they knew they were very lucky to arrive in Australia, as many people could not make it and die in the ocean. After they arrived, they had a very clear goal to settle in Australia, learn English, and make a living. They didn’t waste a second to look back.
4. Learning new marketing skills
I used to work in credit card marketing in banking industry in Hong Kong. I am surprised my corporate marketing skills cannot apply to small business and I have to learn everything again. There are many free or low cost business workshops or business consultations from Business Stations / Business Foundations. I can learn social media marketing, how to write blogs, how to plan a marketing calendar. It is overwhelming when I wear so many hats at once as a small business owner, planning and teaching yoga classes, telling people my existence, managing finance and administration, etc. These workshops are a great platform to learn new skills. It is also important you meet other small business owners and I know I am not alone.
In 2018, sharing the joy of yoga with everyone continues to be my big goal. I am also eager to understand more about the culture of this gigantic city, and what Perthians value, and what they like to spend their leisure time. Could you tell me something about Perth and the people?
Wish you a Happy New Year!
Rachel is the founder of VAI YOGA and an occupational therapist. Her yoga teaching focuses on blending two powerful healings, yoga and occupational therapy solutions, to help people face practical aspects of life.