Aylwin Jong – Malaysia
I came to New Zealand with my parents when I was 19 years old. That was in year 2000. We stayed in Newtown when we first arrived, and enrolling in Wellington High School seemed to be the most obvious thing to do due to its location. We moved to Naenae the following year but I stayed with Wellington High as I was totally in love with the colourful, vibrant environment of Wellington High. Best of all, I didn’t have to wear any hideous school uniform.
In 2001, I finished my 7th Form with an A Bursary, and I got accepted into Victoria University. I started out studying design as I have always liked painting, sketching and making things. As I entered the second year in Design, I realised Design was something I wouldn’t do as a profession as doing so would take away the pleasure from it. As a result, I took the second half of the same year off and took up various part-time jobs.
One day during the height of summer when I was flipping through the course catalogue, something caught my attention. That was Linguistics. I grew up in a multilingual environment in Malaysia, and to be able to speak in 4 languages as early as 12 years old isn’t something you do for fun but a necessity for a typical Malaysian Chinese teenager. I had never heard of Linguistics in my life before but I knew it was something I could do for a living as well as for fun at that instance! I have always been good at telling people’s accents, self-taught myself phonetic symbols, Japanese characters and Greek alphabets, but I never thought there were actually people out there studying languages scientifically. Linguistics seems to be the perfect thing for me! It’s not just about studying the structure of languages, but it also covers a range of topics from the evolution of languages to language planning policy. In 2004, I enrolled in a few of Linguistics papers as well as Japanese and French introductory papers, and eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics recently in May 2008. It was quite a challenge for a non-native English speaker like me to do Linguistics, but my multilingual background has helped me tremendously throughout the courses.
Looking back, I don’t regret giving up Design and followed my heart in Linguistics. The time spent in studying Design wasn’t completely a waste at all as it has fine tuned my aesthetic sense and given me the ability to think outside the box. Likewise, Linguistics has really opened up my eyes to the diversity of the world languages, how languages shape civilisations and vice versa, and how much we take languages for granted in our daily communication. My next step is enrolling in Cert TESOL courses in this coming summer. Travelling overseas while learning foreign languages, especially to France and Japan, has always been my dream, and a qualification in TESOL will be my ticket to fulfil this dream.. Thanks for reading!
That’s the end of my story so far.