Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Sons for the Return Home

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  • chris,

    Dropping in this wonderful photoessay, What are Young Chinese Thinking? because it deserves to be shared, and this is a slightly less arbitrary discussion than most.

    Nice one George, thanks for posting that link. This might also interest you, photos taken by Chinese Uni students. Some of them are gold (WARNING - frat antics - NSFW).

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 902 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I do see Australia as a foreign country. We share remarkably little of each other’s news, and it feels somewhat culturally different when I’m there.

    Quite - the thing I find pleasurably disorientating about visiting Australia is that it's just similar enough not to go into full on culture shock but just weird enough to be interesting. Still, no matter where you are the Eurovision Song Contest is horrible but impossible to look away from...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    80 million?

    No, the 1.2 million that they say were born in Ireland and are living abroad, which gives 18.8% comparing apples with apples. 80 million is 13 times the population of Ireland. It's an interesting number, sure, but you get that when you count everyone with any descent from your country for 3 generations as your own. Still impressive, even then, to increase a population 13-fold in only 2 generations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I find accents hard to pick out abroad, including the kiwi. You lose the reference point, and it's comparably hard to achieving perfect pitch in music. If you get a tuning fork, someone with the same accent talking next to them, you'll spot it straight away. But doing it raw, after your ears have been hearing foreign sounds even for only a few days is much more difficult.

    Also, just guessing people's accents for fun doesn't really help, unless you actually ask them afterwards. You could just be wrong and not know it. There's quite a range for some accents - the country Ozzie drawl is totally different to the fancy accent of a privately schooled Australian, which can sound almost English. Ozzies will slip back and forth between this one, if they can, depending on the other Ozzies they are with. There are also some differences between the states. Similarly a rural kiwi accent is a lot different to a posh one here. And anyone traveling usually alters their accent somewhat to make it clearer for locals. I think I'd rather pick the difference between a Thai and a Malaysian accent, some of the time, at least the tonal cues are consistent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Sacha,

    Nah, that's just wrong, eh. :)

    It was a very, very long time ago. I could've substituted Lion Brown or similar but not much else. A Steinie was the height of Kiwi sophistication then.

    It was. Really.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    A Steinie was the height of Kiwi sophistication then.

    This is scarily true. I still preferred wine cooler, though, preferably from a cask.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is scarily true. I still preferred wine cooler, though, preferably from a cask.

    And Müller-Thurgau never really recovered from its association with the Equiticorp crowd.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    A Steinie was the height of Kiwi sophistication then

    Thank goodness for the arrival of Macs Gold..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    wine cooler

    Miami vice

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I lost the ability to tell the difference when I lived in London -- and gained the ability to tell a North Dublin accent from a South Dublin one.

    That really is impressive. I am married to an Irishman and still struggle to tell a Kerryman from a Dub even, let alone south Dub vs north. Though I can hear there is a difference. Subtleties in Irish accents fascinate me, as I think I would struggle to hear the regional differences in NZ the same way they can be distiguished in a similar size population in Ireland.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 124 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    A Steinie was the height of Kiwi sophistication then [mid 1980s].

    This is scarily true.

    Indeed, but after sponsorship of Round the World yachting and the All Blacks and reducing the price differential with standard beers, by the mid-late 1990s careful observations showed fully half the hoon-tossed bottles littering the streets of Gisborne were Steinlager. It would be an interesting study in marketing strategy and outcomes if it hasn't been done already.

    Yes, as a cyclist I had a special interest, more in the fragmentary bottles, but still the green glass was an almost reliable signifier of Steinlager then with numerous labels for sample calibration. Not the same now, so much more choice in that end of the market, so many more greens ... The things you can see from the seat of a bicycle!

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to chris,

    Generally speaking, The attraction of the New Zealand beyond the obvious aesthetics is that it’s a second chance for Chinese students who failed the local university entrance exam or were unable to complete highschool, and it’s seen as a soft touch for immigration, serving as the perfect springboard for emigration to more attractive countries such as Australia or Canada.

    I certainly recall this in some cases, but we did see a lot of young Chinese, Korean and Japanese students here to complete a second degree in an English speaking Uni, or with genuine intent to do well. One of the biggest problems with IELTS is the tendency of many schools to just teach the test, not the academic skills required to succeed at tertiary level. It was 8 years ago, as mentioned, but the school I worked at did better than most in providing proper English for Academic Purposes courses, and over the 9 years there, students tended to do well at Universities after completing usually 6 months to a year of studies. We tended to aim at IELTS 6.5 or 7 too, which helped a bit.

    Anyway, thanks for all the updated information as I haven't been immersed in this for some time.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Still, no matter where you are the Eurovision Song Contest is horrible

    Hey, watch it there, young man!

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to chris,

    As a business option, NZ universities could offer some 100-level courses with Mandarin as the teaching language? That would allow Chinese kids with a poor grasp of English to start giving us money while learning enough English to do the usual classes in the second year.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4501 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'd still caveat that with leaving out the car or motorbike.

    Depends how 'custom' (and therefore emotinally attached) it is.

    I have a friend who brought his old matchless over in a container years ago, and still hasn't got round to putting it on the road, but he doesn't regret doing it.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Brigid and I play a game on the train in Bangkok sometimes to kill a moment - you see an antipodean (they stand out strongly) and try to pick whether they're Australian or New Zealanders.

    I used to play a similar game when travelling round Indonesia and strolling on the beaches. Picking the nationality of the tourist group I was walking past. The English were embarrasingly easy, being round and red with a tendency to waddle.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I went to a course on teaching international students a couple of weeks ago, and got some fascinating insights from other staff members who had come here as international students. One woman from Guatemala (true!) said that she had arrived with an IELTS of 7.5 (that's very high), to do a Masters, and she struggled to understand anything at all for the first three or four months.

    We face a further problem with our international students, in that many of them don't want to be doing business degrees, but their parents insist on them doing it. They get perfectly respectable grades in the subjects they want to study, but their business grades are appalling.

    New Zealand tertiary education as a whole is not particularly poorly funded, but the split between support for students and support for institutions is... interesting. We spend a high proportion on students (allowances, interest free loans), at the cost of institutional support. Investment in tertiary institutions has been declining, and now the costs of that decreased investment is starting to show in our falling rankings. However, there are more students, or votes, than there are staff, or votes.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Sometime last year I came to the sudden realisation that British accented English now sounded normal to me. It happened in the middle of the working day and it mildly amused and confused my English colleagues. However I am still not quite sure what I meant by that comment.

    I do also share the fear that my accent is either now, or on its way to a halfway house of not British and not Kiwi. Not much I can really do about that I guess, except move back to Oamaru asap!

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 897 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    Hey, watch it there, young man!

    What happens on holiday, stays on holiday. That's all I'm saying. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Deborah,

    One woman from Guatemala (true!) said that she had arrived with an IELTS of 7.5 (that’s very high), to do a Masters, and she struggled to understand anything at all for the first three or four months.

    Was that because of language problems or culture shock? I don't mean to sounds like some immigrant-basing arse but if I got dropped in the middle of Guatemala de la Asunción or Beijing I don't think I'd handle it at all well for a while either.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    When I was 16 I went to Tahiti on a student exchange for french class - my host family was amazed that I could tell kiwis/americans/brits/aussies apart, even when they were speaking french (I guess we all mangle their vowels subtly differently) - to the french we all sounded like english people speaking french

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Language. Or to be precise, she said it was language, and that even though she had a high score on IELTS, she was nowhere near the proficiency level she needed. I guess the point is that even if we set the IELTS entry standard higher, many students would still need a great deal of assistance in the first few months as they learn how to live in English, not just read, write and speak the language in test situations.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    In my travels in Argentina and Chile in particular, it was interesting that the local people we met who spoke English did so with an American accent - as they had been taught by Americans. It was also interesting that they struggled to understand our Kiwi English. One of our group has an American father and a mild American accent, and they found him much easier to understand.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 665 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    could be the results of American TV too

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Was that because of language problems or culture shock?

    I think this is certainly a problem. Arriving in Tokyo without any Japanese, they ran courses on culture shock at the youth hostel. Well, I certainly remember being told about the roller coaster ride that would be my life for the first 3 - 6 months. Aspects of it lasted the whole 14 months I was there.

    They get perfectly respectable grades in the subjects they want to study, but their business grades are appalling.

    Ain't that the truth? Probably equally so for many Kiwis nowadays, with the stigma attached to the 'arts' subjects.

    One woman from Guatemala (true!) said that she had arrived with an IELTS of 7.5 (that's very high), to do a Masters, and she struggled to understand anything at all for the first three or four months.

    Again I think it's because IELTS doesn't indicate proficiency in things like discourse, extended writing in English, or cultural competency, which are all significant factors when trying to succeed academically overseas. In general it can take at least 6 months to a year to acclimatise properly, IMhO.

    ETA: Excuse the random reply to.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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