29 May 2015 – 10:50AM

Jingyu SONG   Contact me with Email or Facebook

They are my precious, Vivian said.

Vivian(43), a medium-built study mother from China’s Guangdong province, wore a cool sunglass, talked about her Sydney life at Prince Alfred Park with a gentle smell. Her two daughters were sitting next her and listened carefully with the bright sunshine of April.


Vivian. Photo: JingyuSONG

Australia is a high education standard country, which attracts many parents and children, and Sydney is one city that owns world-class universities, such as the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales. The People’s Republic of China remained the largest source country for student visa grants, Chinese students made up 20.7% of student visa grants in 2013–14. Same as Vivian, many Chinese mothers come to Sydney with their children to seek for better education and living environment in recent years. But their life situation is not all the same.

The future of Chinese study mothers seems divided into three paths: become Australia immigration, stay in Australia as a student’s guardian or go back to China.

The Life dilemma that Vivian faced in Sydney

Three years ago, Vivian accompanied her children to Sydney. At that time, those two girls were in high school. Now, one of them was enrolled in the University of Sydney, another one was still in high school and preparing to go to the university.

When talking about her children, Vivian said with proud, “After arrived in Sydney, they become more independent and sensible. Last month I caught a serious fever, and they looked after me without a break before I fully recover”, she continuous, “sometimes, when they have free time, they even taught me how to cook by searching new cooking recipes. I feel very happy.”


Cake made by Vivian and her daughters. Photo: Vivian

Vivian thought her relationship with her daughters was enhanced, she said, “Before we came to Australia, they studied in boarding school and only came home once a week. But now, we lived together every day and we have more topics to talk about.”

The current happiness life is really satisfied Vivian. However, cross the time that Vivian just arrived in Sydney, she confronted a lot of troubles.

The first three months is like a torture. At that time, I almost shed tears everyday.” Vivian talked frankly.

At daytime, her daughters went to school; at night, her daughters are busy with their assignments. She had no one to talk face-to-face. Besides, some details of the daily life in Sydney also troubled Vivian.

“The way to get off a bus is different between Sydney and Guangdong. Once I got on a bus, I pushed the get off button, but suddenly I found that it was not the station that I wanted to get off, and no one else got off at that station. Finally, I got off at the wrong station because I thought it may be embarrassed if no one got off the bus with a rang bell”, she said with a helpless smile.

Talking about those days, Vivian said, “I feel truly lonely, boring and depressed. They are the dark days in my life.” But now, she is totally accustomed to the life in Sydney, although her English is still a problem.

Vivian came to Australia with the guardian visa. According to the Australian Government, Vivian can stay with her children until their student visa overdue. When talked about their future plan, Vivian said honestly: “I plan to immigrate to Australia with my daughters together, because I have made this decision before I arrived in Australia. With the guardian visa, I experienced the life in Sydney early, and it really helps me to accustom living in this different place.”

Some mothers enjoy the life in Sydney

Vivian is an optimistic and outgoing person. Except playing a role as study mother, she also established a group: “happy land”. The group is to encourage Sydney’s study mothers to meet and communicate with each other, and now it has more than 60 members. Vivian always holds some weekend activities to enrich study mother’s daily life.


Study mothers were chatting at the happy land activity. Photo: JingyuSONG

happy land

Study mothers jumping happily during the activity held by “happy land”. Photo: JianZhang

Same as Vivian, Huijuan (46) has come to Australia with her son for three years. Before she quitted her job to come to Australia, Huijuan is a director from a famous Chinese TV channel.

At the beginning, Huijuan doubted that: “As for accompanying my son to Sydney, is it really having benefits to my boy and me?”

Then Huijuan decided to use her professional knowledge to help local Chinese TV channel. She joined Tianhe TV channel as a volunteer (because the government required that guardian visa holder cannot work for getting payment) to make her life more colorful. Currently, she has just passed the IELTS exam and preparing to apply immigration.

Some mothers feel regretful

When facing the uncertain future, some people choose to be optimistic, while others choose to regret.

The days in Australia are hardly makes me feel happy”, Crystal said.

Crystal (51), a Chinese study mother, wants to go back to China quickly. She has accompanied her two children to Australia for a year, but she basically not go out home.

“The basic of my life is still in China, my parents, friends and husband…Even though my children are stay with me, we have less chat. They are always busy with their study”, she said disappointedly. About the future, Crystal feels helpless, “I don’t know how to face it, and I just came here for my children.”

Sherry (52) has arrived in Australia for two years. Her three children all came to Australia, so she thinks she have to be here to stay with them. During the interview, Sherry constantly complained about her Sydney life. “My children are too busy in Sydney and I feel we are isolated; my husband comes to Australia every three months and only stays for 15 days because he had businesses”, she said.

Response from the the Government

In terms of the requirements of the guardian visa, most study mothers are not clear about it until they arrived in Australia. Sherry said: “my visa application is through a Chinese agency, I just need to hand in the materials that the agency asked. “

Through phoning the department of immigration of the Australia government, the staff believed that study mothers can help their young children and children who have special circumstances to live in Australia better. But the staff also claimed that study mothers need to understand the visa requirements in advance, which is beneficial for their future planning in Australia.

Becoming a happy study mother is not an easy task. It depends on their purpose, English language level, personalities, etc. If mothers only blindly considered about their children, they may need to think whether it is worth it.

More information related to this article:

Singapore study mothers: Tough life for ‘study mamas’

Why Chinese parents are sending their children abroad to study at a younger age?