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Refugees are sharing powerful stories about their first days in Australia

People from all over the world migrate to Australia and their stories of their first days in the country are as diverse as they are inspiring.

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This week SBS shared people’s stories of their first day in Australia, with people describing their first encounters in this big brown land.

“I was surprised how casual people were,” says Dr Leng Tan, originally from Singapore.

“The biggest surprise, I would have to say, is how easy, how casual the life is. Very carefree.”

Sarah Yahya described her surprise at seeing that boys and girls, women and men, weren’t separated at schools, but could mix freely.

“In the Middle East a majority of our schools are gender separated, so when I was told I would be in a mixed school and there would be male teachers [I thought], ‘Since when are teachers male?'” Yahya remembers.

One of the most inspiring stories would have to be Deng Thiak Adut, a former child soldier from Sudan who arrived in Australia as a refugee. He now features in a powerful video by Western Sydney University about his story, which has more than 2 million views on YouTube.

He remembers his first days fondly, his first meal being a breakfast at McDonald’s, but the adjustment was so difficult that he says if he’d had the money, he would have left Australia right then and there. Although, he’s glad he didn’t.

“Australia made me a lawyer, it could make you a scientist, it could make you an engineer, it could make you anybody you ever wanted. It’s Australia. It’s a beautiful country,” he says.

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Since SBS began sharing these interesting and often touching tales, other Australians who were once refugees and migrants have been sharing their own stories on social media.

Some were confused about etiquette at barbecues, as Latoya Johnson explained.

“When I first moved to Australia I brought a handle of vodka to a party and thought it was odd that no one touched it,” she said. “I didn’t realize Aussies BYO and don’t really share at bbqs.”

Others have shared their confusion with the Australian slang.

“English is my first language & it took me a while to get my ears around the Aussie lingo,” Marina Gwithian Barker said.

But that’s something that takes time to get used to, as Arif Uddin explains.

“Still struggling even though I am living since last 5 years,” he said.

Are you a migrant or refugee? What were your first days in Australia like? Let us know.

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