留学改变了我

或许每个人都是这样,因为年龄增长的关系,会变得很是不喜欢从前的那个自己。但我很是相信,是澳洲的留学经历让我产生了这样的变化。记得在18岁那年准备来澳洲时,很是自信的向父母保证过自己在出国后依旧将会爱自己的祖国,发誓一定会向澳洲人展现中国人最完美的一面。但现如今,当每每听到有人做出相类似的宣言时,心中却只剩下了苦笑。

刚到澳洲并未觉得这相较国内有多发达,反倒是很是敏感于任何澳洲人的不文明。每一天都在充当着“祖国的卫士”,抵抗反驳着任何针对中国的批评和负面评论。我自大的以为自己来自于这世上最幸运,最团结,最善良的国度;我自负的认为自己有着绝对正确的思想,算个好人;我甚至于自私独裁到以为要是所有人都能按照我的想法来生活,那么这个世界就不会有那么多的纷争了。

自然,这一切,都因为在澳洲的生活而被彻底的改变了。不是说,现在的我就有多么的不自私。而是,我原先以为地那坚固的不得了的价值观很快的就崩塌了,身份认同开始动摇然后变得越来越模糊。从无知自大,到有些自知之明,到识破许多许多谎言后的愤怒与痛恨,再到现在地相对地平静,这中间的周折和经历,让我好好的审视了自己个性里地所有。我曾经以为我有的那些品质,我以为我有的那些好,原来通通都没有。在澳洲的时间越长,才发现国内和它的距离越大。原先所在乎的表象--高楼大厦,华丽璀璨的夜景渐渐的被内在被细节的东西所取代,比如办公楼是否有残疾人通道,是否洗手间内有手纸,是否有个人,政治,思想自由。

出国前的自己,是典型的愤青,政治修养上无知保守而又专制。那时的我相信强权,信服一切表面上的强大,沉溺于所有空洞而又形式化的盛典。我所仅有的就是一些对社会弱小的关怀,但大概正因为有了这一点点正义感,也就觉自己所坚持的政治信仰在道德上便占有了制高点。来到了澳洲,当没有人再向我灌输意识形态,当没有人再向我宣传绝对性后,只有大学里朋友间的言行身教时,形成的观念和价值反倒更是坚固和持久。生活中那一点一滴的潜移默化,比如对人平等的态度,独立地生活方式,和不可怜自己的思维方式等等,彻底的让我受到了震撼和影响。首先,很是明显的能感觉到自己有被人重视与尊重:他们没有因为我的成绩,因为我的能力或者政治偏向就看轻我或者我的观点。其次,澳洲人的幽默,乐观和简单传染到了我:不论当时的我是带着多大的恶意,刻意的讽刺澳洲的政治和政要,到最后他们的真心和认真总会让羞愧难当。然后,澳洲社会中那些不炫耀的善良,简单粗糙的友善让许多意识形态失去了吸引力与号召力:让我意识到做一个能够对陌生人友善的人要强过那些听起来高尚的不得了的信条。最后,社会里的言论自由和对不同意见的容忍度慢慢的也渗透到了我的生活中:让我接触到了更多和更真实地信息以及争锋相对的意见,让一直束缚着自己思想的火柴盒能够得到一些小小的扩张。

记得,08年奥运火炬传递到了澳洲,许多中国同学邀我一起带着国旗去参加和保护火炬传递时的”顺利“。当天我跟随着大家喊着口号,很是兴奋骄傲的挥舞着国旗,但直到我看到我们中国学生对那些执不同意见人的粗暴和残忍。从那天起,我心中便有了转折性的变化。第一次,我开始有了一个留学生不该有的想法,我曾试图说服自己的大脑,试图解释这样的暴力是合理的,直到后来我没有办法再去解释。我只有根据我自己内心的好坏标准,相信了自己,而不是别人的教导,做出了属于自己做判断与决定。这第一块砖倒下后,自然后来便是整面高墙的崩塌。当我迫不及待的想要将这最新的发现告诉国内的朋友和父母时,迎面而来的便是他们不可理喻和愤怒,认为我是受了蛊惑和洗脑。只是我心里很是清楚和清晰的知道,我终于找回了些做为一个人的意义,卸掉了那沉重的意识形态的束缚,重新拥有了独立思考的能力。

从前的我从来都未曾设想过,将会有一天,我会如此的相信民主,自由和平等。留学之前,在我的脑子里只有阳光海滩,慵懒而又肥胖的澳洲人。以前的那个我,应该无论如何也无法相信,这样一群”没有凝聚力,不努力“的澳洲人能够教会我人生中最重要的课。胡适先生在美留学时就说过:“世界上没有以中西或东西之分的真理,只有好坏,对错,有用无用之分。而且,这好坏,对错,有用无用之分,是普世皆准的。”在澳洲的留学生活,让我很是坚定地相信做一个好人比什么都重要。还有让我相信,我们每一人都有着自己存在的价值和与众不同的特质,所以,任何一个人都没有资格去要求其他人要怎么样去生活。不论长相,能力,智商,每一人都应该值得受到社会的尊重和重视。而目前,只有民主,法治,自由的社会才能够基本保证每一个人的诉求。

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Study Abroad Changed Me

It is perhaps the case for everyone that as one ages, one comes to dislike one’s former self. Yet I believe it was studying abroad in Australia which gave rise to this feeling in me. I remember as I prepared to come to Australia at the age of 18, I confidently assured my parents that even after leaving China, I would still love my homeland exactly as before. I vowed I would give Australians the best and most perfect impression of Chinese people possible. Nowadays, however, when I hear people make similar declarations, I can’t help but smile wryly to myself.

Arriving in Australia, I didn’t think it seemed much more developed than home; on the contrary, I was very sensitive to anything relating to Australian people which I considered uncivilised. Every day I acted as “guardian of the motherland”, resisting and refuting any criticism or negative comments towards China. I arrogantly thought I must be from the world’s best, most fortunate, most united, and most honest nation: conceitedly, I believed all my thoughts were absolutely correct, and I considered myself an utterly good person. My way of thinking was egocentric even to the extent that I believed if I could dictate how everyone else lived their lives – according to my ideas – the world would be a better place, and there would be far less conflict.

Naturally, since living in Australia, all of this has changed. Of course, that’s not to say I’m not still a little egocentric! It’s simply that my originally firm beliefs and values rapidly collapsed; my sense of identity began to shake, and subsequently became increasingly blurred. From ignorant arrogance, to an increased understanding of myself; from the anger and hatred which came of seeing through the flaws and falsehoods of my mentality; now, I have emerged relatively calm and at peace. Going through such twists and turns and experiences has allowed me to take a good look at my own personality. In what concerned my intrinsic qualities, I originally believed I was made of only good ones – yet as a matter of fact, I was entirely mistaken! Furthermore, the longer I stayed in Australia, the more distant I came to find my homeland. My former ideas and memories of the place – high-rise buildings, resplendent and dazzling night views – were gradually replaced by smaller details: for example, whether or not office buildings had disabled access; whether there was toilet paper inside bathrooms; and whether there was personal and political freedom of thought.

Before going abroad, I was a typical example of a loyal young Chinese person with extreme nationalistic tendencies, my politics cultivated by ignorance through conservatism and autocracy. The me of that time believed in power, was fully convinced by all superficial shows of might, and also greatly enjoyed all grand yet empty formal ceremonies. I was only mildly concerned for the poor and weak of society – yet because I did care a little for China’s poor and vulnerable, I felt righteously certain that my political belief held a moral high ground.

Once I came to Australia, there was no-one to press their own ideologies onto me, or to encourage me to think in only one particular way. With nothing but the words and deeds of friends in college to serve as examples, the ideas and beliefs I eventually formed were actually strong and lasting. Little by little, the ideas with which I came into contact – such as developing an egalitarian attitude towards people, fostering an independent lifestyle, and not necessarily favouring my own opinion – exerted a striking influence on my thinking and my character. Firstly, I noticed people’s basic standard of respect towards me, and value of me: it wasn’t conditional on my grades or my abilities, and people did not take my political bias or point of view as a reason to look down on me. Secondly, the Australian sense of humour and optimism was simply contagious: no matter how many prejudices I had, or how much the Australian government and its officials had been satirised to me, in the end Australians’ sincerity and conscientiousness brought my assumptions to shame. Moreover, the kind-heartedness without exhibitionism, the simplicity, and the friendliness of Australian society weakened the hold of many of my former ideologies, rendering them unappealing to me. I realised being a friend to strangers was a greater act than to self-isolate out of devotion to what I had considered a noble creed. Finally, the freedom of speech and tolerance of dissent in Australian society gradually permeated my life: it allowed me to come into contact with more authentic news sources, and to challenge my opinions, enabling my little box of ideas to expand.

I remember back in 2008, when the Olympic torch relay came to Australia, a lot of Chinese students invited me to join them in carrying our national flag and guarding the safe passage of the torchbearer. I went along with everyone that day, shouting slogans and waving the national flag with pride and excitement – but only until I realise that the people I was with were cruel and intolerant of anyone who disagreed with them. It was a further turning point for my heart and mind. From that day on, I began to have thoughts which an exchange student should not have. I tried to convince my brain to think otherwise; to justify such intolerance as reasonable; yet eventually I concluded that I have no means of explaining the thoughts away. I now simply live according to my own standards of good and bad, have faith in myself rather in someone else’s teachings, and make my own decisions and judgements.

Once the first brick fell, naturally the whole wall collapsed. Later, when unable to hold myself back from sharing my realisations with family and friends back in my homeland, they were angry and unable to be reasoned with, believing I had been misled and brainwashed. Yet my heart and mind felt quite clear; I finally feel as though I have found some purpose. Furthermore, now that I have been relieved of my former heavy ideological restraints, I also feel I have regained the ability to think independently.
My past self never imagined that someday I would believe in democracy, freedom, and equality. Before studying abroad, I only believed I would encounter sunny beaches and lazy, obese Australians. In any case, the former “I” did not believe Australians – with their “lack of cohesion, and poor work ethic” – would end up teaching me the most important lessons of my life.

When studying abroad in America, Mr. Hu Shi (ed note: a famous Chinese philosopher, essayist, and diplomat, and a key contributor to Chinese liberalism) said: “In truth, the world is not divided into Chinese and Western; it is only divided by only good and bad, right and wrong, and useful and useless. Moreover, whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, and useful or useless, can be universally determined.”

Living an as exchange student in Australia has made me very firmly believe that being a good person is more important than anything else. I also now believe that we each have our own individual worth, special qualities and that therefore nobody has the right to demand that others live in a certain way. Regardless of appearance, ability, or IQ, everyone deserves respect and attention within their society. And at present, only democracy, the rule of law, and a free society can adequately assure the needs of each individual.

Translation by Rosalind Moran