How pets affect overseas students’ life

It’s a sunny morning, a burst of sunshine sent a beam of amber light through the window. Before going to school, Danny Chen changed cat litter in box, filled the food bowl with cat dry food mixed with cat tuna can. Then Danny patted his cat, Curry, picked him up, kissed his furry face and said goodbye to him. It is the beginning of one plain day in his daily life.

Danny Chen: My cat lets me become a photographer

Danny Chen is an international student coming from China, he has been in Melbourne for about 2 years. When he was a ten-year-old young boy, his family took him to have a travel in Melbourne. The natural beauty and magnificent humanistic scenery of Melbourne gave him a deep impression and he decided to study in this city in the future. Two years ago, he achieved his dream. After graduating from high school in China, he achieved offer from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology(RMIT) University. Later, he came to his dream city, Melbourne, and started his first independent life far away from home and family. On the airplane, Danny was so excited, it’s his first time to go abroad by himself. He looked forward to his new life and imaged a lot of colorful life scenes in RMIT university.

Curry (photoed by Danny)

However, the real life was quite another thing. When Danny settled down in Melbourne, he found life was not as easy as he thought. He had to learn a lot of things, including both life skills and study skills. “When I first came to Melbourne, I didn’t know how to cook, the only food I can cook is boiled eggs. Also, my undergraduate major, advertising, is very difficult for me as I had no basic knowledge of it.” Meanwhile, Danny felt lonely and miss his friends and family in China. “At that time, I felt depressed as I had no idea about how to integrate into the life of studying abroad. I became uncommunicative and moody. This situation remained for a period of time until I met Curry.”

Curry is Danny’s pet cat, it was named after its fur color. Danny still remembered the first time he saw Curry. It was a cold rainy Friday afternoon, Danny finished his part-time job in Sushi Bar and on the way home. He was so tried and the bad weather made him in low spirit. Suddenly, he saw Curry in the transparent window of one pet shop. Curry was only 6 week old at that time. He was very cute with pudgy body. “He was looking at me with lovely eyes flashing, and a feeling of well-being came over me and warmed my heart. I decided to keep him at that time. And two weeks later, I bought him from this pet shop. I still remember the feeling when he first time molded himself into my arms. ” Danny said that while showing me some photos of Curry.

Curry (photoed by Danny)

Curry’s appearance took great changes to Danny’s life. Not only has curry help Danny better integrate into new life abroad, it’s also a catalyst that help Danny becomes a photographer. When Danny keeping pet, he became interested in taking photos of Curry. Coincidentally, his major includes one course about photography. “I want to record Curry’s growth by taking photos at beginning. To my surprise, the photos I put on social media get popular among people. That really inspired me and I decided to become a photographer.” Gradually, Danny has become an amateur photographer and has begun to take photos for others as a part-time job. This job lets him have more chances to communicate with others. This gives him the opportunity to meet new friends and lets him feel comfortable about the new environment. “Curry helps brighten my life,” Danny said, “He always company me whenever I feel lonely or depressed. He followed me all the time even when I take a shower. Also he helps me find what I’m good at. He makes me become confident and happy.”

Curry and Danny

Dr Nadia Timol, who are the doctor of one veterinary hospital, Flemington Vet, is the person responsible for Curry’s health. Every month, Danny takes Curry to Flemington Vet for routine check. “Curry maintains good health as vaccinated regularly,” Nadia Timol said, “The first time I met Danny, he was too shy to speak more. He said he hadn’t adjusted to his new life in Melbourne. Now he looks open and bright, and are willing to share me some interesting stories about Curry.” When talking about the phenomenon that international students keep pets for companionship. Nadia Timol said she has quiet a few clients are overseas students. “An increasing number of overseas students keep pets for companionship compared to several years ago. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Pets may enrich their studying abroad experience. For most of them, it’s the first time to keep a pet by themselves. They can learn a lot form the experience, like how to become responsible and patient.”

Hye Sun Kim: Oh god, Mary saved my life.

Danny’s pet Curry helps Danny become a photographer and make more friends. Hye Sun Kim’s pet, Mary, saved her life 2 months ago. Hye Sun is an international student from Korea. Mary is a 2-year-old labrador. Hye Sun has been in Melbourne for more than 5 years since she was finished her middle school course in Korea. When she first came to Melbourne, she lived in a host family. The family includes a nice couple and a cute dog. Hye Sun spent a pleasant time living with them. When moving out to a studio, she felt lonely and decided to raise a pet. She thought that instead of buying one pet, it’s better to adopt one from animal shelters. “My host family’s pet also was rescued from animal shelters, I searched the information about the animal shelters like RSPCA Victoria, The Lost Dogs’ Home and Lort Smith Animal Hospital, and then adopt Mary from the lost dogs’ home.”

First coming to Hye Sun’s home, Mary was kind of out of control, he fouled Hye Sun’s house and barked at her all the time. Hye Sun had no choices but took him to dog obedience training school. “It’s an interesting experience in dog obedience training school, I met friends who also keep dogs here. Also, I learnt how to control my dog’s behavior. It makes me become more patient about everything.” Now Hye Sun can guide Mary to sit down, stand up, run and get things back. Mary also knows how to greet people by rubbing against their legs now. When Hye Sun takes him to walk in Carton Garden, Mary always show his happiness by spinning in circles. As an international student, Although sometimes busy with study, Hye Sun spares one hour to take Mary out for a walk everyday. “It’s Mary’s favorite time of a day. I’m his only friend that can’t let him down.” Hye Sun said, “He is not just my friend, he even saved my life.”

Mary’s favorite part of a day

Hye Sun never forgets the day Mary saved my life. It was weekend evening, Hye Sun was watching video in bedroom with Mary. Mary put his head on Hye Sun. Gradually, Hye Sun felt sleepy and dozed off. Suddenly, Mary barked loudly and pulled Hye Sun to the kitchen. Then Hye Sun noticed that she forgot the boiling milk for a long time! The kitchen was filled with smoke and the boiler almost on fire. “Mary waked me up just in time and saved my life.”

The statistics from Australian Veterinary Association, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, about 63%. Pets are humans’ good friends. Keeping a pet brings owners a lot of fun and affection. For international students, who may feel lonely and depressed when live far from home and family, it’s kind of a trend to keep pets to company them. Caring a pet helps them have more communication with people as you need to take him to vet hospital or obedience training school. It’s a good chance to make friends with people who also keep pets or love animals. Also, Keeping pets help oversea students better integrate to new life abroad. You grow up together with your pets as you learn responsibility and patience from them.

After finishing the whole day courses, Danny went back home. When he opened the door, his cute kitty, Curry, ran to him and licked Danny’s feet. Then, Curry looked at Danny and said “meow” -as if to say, “Welcome back.”

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