In an increasingly globalised world, I’ve come across a lot of people who have experiences of more than one country. On my flight to Brisbane I met Petr, 26, who was born in the former Czechoslovakia before immigrating to Australia when he was 7 with his family. He was returning home to Brisbane with his wife from Thailand, where he had been working for three years. In Bangkok he worked as a teacher, supporting students to learn more about web design.
‘I don’t know much about the central european system as I didn’t go to school there; what I have heard – from my family back there, is that it is similar to the Thai system, which seems to take its influence from the British system. The pressure is evident; high demand for students to get to certain Universities – those with high reputations. Certainly there is pressure from parents.’
‘In Thailand I taught a lot of Thai children – often parents choose the subject or degree of subject that their children study at Uni. And then, irrespective of that – in many cases students end up then working in their family’s small businesses. This appears embedded in the culture – it’s the strong expectation; because parents provide for the children – the expectation is they pay back to their parents by working for them. And this is especially the case with the oldest child.’
‘I grew up in Australia and went to school there. Primary school was laid back; but High School was laid back as well. I remember there being a lot of high achievers, but also a lot of kids who didn’t seem to care – there really seemed a mix. A lot drop out at Grade 10 when compulsory schooling ends, whereas afterwards it is not. There was some pressure when I was at school – you need certain results to get into a certain course; there was a lot of pressure on some subjects – e.g. medicine and law, but not across the board. I found Uni a lot more relaxed than high school. You are there because you want to be there. Bit more expectation for me as being from Europe my parents had to pay for the experience.’
‘When I was 16 I wanted to be some kind of artist – I was specialising in digital art at the time – and am still in that field now. My ambition is now more refined; it’s a more specific area of art – now, it’s game design. It combines a lot of many different art forms together; film, fine art, graphic novels – many things, but also creative writing. So it became more refined over time; when studying my bachelors degree it was a multimedia course and this opened opportunities and each semester I did something on digital art and this really opened my eyes to the other things – for example 3D and from that onto games.’
‘My advice to my sixteen year old self would be to ‘expect the unexpected’ – if someone had told me I’d be living in Thailand for three years I’d have said you have to be kidding. And yet it happened.’