Humans of Interchange – Monchee

When did you first arrive in Australia?

Do you want the exact date? 28th December 2014. I’m studying nursing right now but back in the Philippines I already have a nursing degree. I even passed the entrance exams to go to medical school back home. I’m from Pampanga and life wasn’t hard for me there, I know I’d be okay if I remained where I was. But I wanted to leave my comfort zone.

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I don’t have much money to go out and get to know Sydney. Being the eldest in my family, I’ve already taken a big chunk of money from my parents and I don’t want to keep asking from them. I still have two younger brothers at home. The hardest part about living in Sydney is probably earning money. I had a job for a short while once, I was working in printing and helping to lay out designs. After three days they told me they didn’t have any more work for me, I didn’t even get paid for those three days. I didn’t know anything at the time. But I’ve recently been accepted as an assistant in nursing, so I’m excited for that.

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My Stinky Fish is being shy. I’ve always been shy because I live in a closed-off world. That’s why I’m here, to get out of my shell and make new friends. Now I’m still kind of shy, I’m not used to interacting with different nationalities. I’m really conscious of my accent. Their English here is kind of different, in the Philippines it’s more Americanised. Colours is colors, then there’s also changing the z to an s. And the alphabet to me is supposed to be x, y, zee not zed. But once you get used to it, I think the Australian accent sounds so much better than the American.

In the Philippines we have stronger family ties, whereas people here are more independent. When I watch American TV, they always show that when the kids are 18 or 21, they move out. Does that happen here too? In the Philippines sometimes even if you get married you just move into the family home. You move into the house where your parents, even your grandparents live.

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My Happy Fish is being optimistic. I’m a very positive person. I think being negative drags you down, when you’re negative you see the darkness in every person you talk to. But when you’re optimistic, with every opportunity you are able to see the good in it. The end game here is to get my own place so my parents can come visit me. Eventually I hope my brother will be able to come here to study and then he can live with me as well. I want to get my own place, have a good job and get a good computer.

My nickname is Monchee, everyone back home calls me Monchee. But here, nobody can really pronounce it. ‘Munchy? Munch?’, so I just tell them to call me by my real name, Ramon. Then they can go Ramon or Raymond, whatever they want to call me. But you can call me Monchee if you like.

Interchange is an innovative and design-thinking program run specifically for 200 undergraduate international students from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Australian Catholic University (ACU). Humans of Interchange is a mini editorial project to highlight the melting pot of diversity that exists in Australia and to give its international students a voice.

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