East vs West
Sydney Train Carriage Passengers

Cultural Differences: Yellow Fever In Australia

The Asian Girl On The Sydney Train

Australians may not like to admit it, but deep down, we all have a case of yellow fever.

In Australia, Sydney, on the train, I became seated upstairs in a train carriage.  In walked an Asian girl, very tall, wearing a long black and white patterned trench coat, and skinny black jeans.

She turned many heads.

The Asian girl sat down on the second three-seater on the top part of the carriage.


In the two-seaters across from her were three men, each with their hand across their two-seater, their body language looking over every now and again at this Chinese girl.

An Arabic guy was seated in front of her.  He turns on his seat so he is facing sideward, because he wants to look at her too.

All these people have different backgrounds and heritage.  One of them looked Indian, one appeared Arabic, one was tan-skinned, and one of them was me.

These four Australian men on a Sydney train were all checking out this one, skinny, tall Asian girl.

The Benefit Of Speaking Chinese

I was thinking, “Man!  Australians all have yellow fever.”

But the cultural difference with me and everyone else is that I can speak her language.

I thought, “All I have to do is go up to this girl and say, “你好。你会说中文吗?”

That would instantly break the cultural barrier, I know.

Language is one cultural advantage I have over all my competition in Australia.  I can just swoop all the Chinese girls up, if I wanted to.

The Problem Of Approaching Asians In Australia

But there is also a cultural problem in approaching Chinese girls in Australia.

Because, when I was looking at this girl, I felt in my mind that she comes off as snooty.

Most Australian people are friendly.  She does not look too friendly.

She looks aloof, assuming that if one of those men talked to her, she will act as if she does not get what they are on about, and she will try to separate her identity from those people.

That is what Chinese people do.

This separation on race is where the perception of racial discrimination in Australia comes from.

Australians would think Chinese to be haughty, or Asians in general to believe they are superior to other local people.

The impression that local Australians have is to suppose a Chinese person in Australia would think, “These local people can’t speak my language.  Maybe I can just hide behind that Chinese identity.”

The Perception That Westerners Do Not Speak Asian Languages

As I got out of the train, and saw a few Asians on the platform that I could speak Mandarin with, I began to think, “It is no longer an excuse to say that Australian people cannot speak Chinese, because I have been to China.”

Australians do not go to China in big numbers in order to be able to speak fluent Mandarin, but there are people from all over the world who go to China to learn the Chinese language, especially African and black people.

It does not surprise me that there are so many people who are not Chinese that can speak Chinese.

I think this stereotype that Western white people cannot understand the Chinese language should begin to be broken, especially from what I have seen overseas in China.

When Asian girls in Australia exclaim, “Oh you can speak Chinese,” I would reply, “Yeah.  Australian people do not go on mass to China, but everyone from around the world does go to China.”

…”And everyone else from around the world learns Chinese, and then they go back to their home country.  They might be small in number, but in China it is a big number.”

The perception that Westerners do not speak Asian languages is only a perception.  Asian languages are no longer the exclusive title of Asians.  Westerners have adopted Asian languages too.  There should be more cultural acceptance in both cultures for that growing trend.


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