Hi guys! I’m Elise, another Inbound Storyteller in this semester. I’m from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which some people have described as ‘Oriental Hogwarts’. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you really should come to experience all the things that you’ve read on the book, such as being allocated to a college by the sorting hat, passing through the cursed gate and even taking an express to school! I’m a Psychology student (but definitely not studying mind-reading as in the real Hogwarts!) and I’m now in ANU as an exchange student for one semester. I’ve been in Canberra for two months and I must say there’s a huge difference between the two places, which I shall share some of them below.


As I’m not a native English speaker, when I was first asked ‘How are you?’ in Canberra, I was freaked out and tried hard to think of all the vocabularies I knew to describe my mood at that time. Not only until I had taken the bus for a few more times did I realize nobody (well, most I’d say) really meant to ask for your day! That’s really a huge cultural shock for me since in Hong Kong, people don’t speak a lot so what they say must be something important and crucial. Let’s say you would like to order a burger from the Maccas. Below is a demonstration of how the conversation would be like.

You: Meal 7, coke and take-away please.

Staff: So that’s 30 dollars. Next please.

As shown from above, you can see how much we value our words (like as if we need to pay for every single word) and that how precise and concise we wish our words to be.

So, I’m writing to people whose mother tongue language is not English, but would like to come to Australia for exchange: Do NOT panic with your crappy English. Just be brave to say anything. Nobody notices anything wrong unless you have said something really serious or unexpected. Besides, don’t bother much by their ‘faked’ sincerity. I do believe, that their smiles and enthusiasm are true. 🙂


As someone who doesn’t like to drink, I have always wondered why Australians like to drink a lot (a lot for me as I doesn’t drink at all) at night or go on clubbing. I once asked a local student here for the reason and what she told me was ‘Well, we don’t have much to do at night’, which I think is quite true. It’s now getting warmer and warmer but when I arrived here, it was in its late Winter and the sun set at around 5:30pm. Most shops are closed at 5 or 6 p.m. So the best thing to do is probably going back home, then take a hot shower, have a night drink and sleep. It sounds really desperate to me since I don’t drink and all I left are going back home, take a hot shower and sleep.  Fortunately at last I have found my past-time – cooking!!!

Cake in a cup in 60 seconds using the microwave!

When I was in my home university, people rarely cook themselves as the meals in the school canteens just below the dormitories are so cheap (and not bad) while in here people rarely dine out. Thus it’s another big cultural difference.


Rice with corns, mushrooms and vegetables was all I had in the first week. To save cost, I didn’t buy myself oil or salt because I didn’t want to spend any extra money in buying a saucepan or a pot. All I bought were food that could be made with the rice cooker which was brought by me from Hong Kong to Canberra. That really helped save money but believe me, you wouldn’t want to have tasteless broccoli for more than two weeks!

So I’m suggesting another way to save money – gather bunch of your friends and cook together! It’s a lot more fun too even only when you guys are just looking up recipes to try out or go out together for a pack of eggs. You can also find a lot of interesting and new things in the supermarket! I once bought myself a bottle of pancake powder, which only requires me to pour water inside to make pancakes!!! I have tried making myself a small sponge cake in 60 seconds with the microwave oven as well! Doesn’t that sound amazing? Check out quick in Coles and you will find lots of ideas for a 3-course meal.

Traditional Chinese dessert Tang Yuan cooked by my friends and I


For sure there are still lots of exciting things to share so stay tuned! 😀