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Working in supermarkets on Christmas Eve

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Xiaowei Xiaowei | 16:22 UK time, Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Hi everyone! My name is Xiaowei, it's a common Chinese name and sounds nearly the same as 'shall we'. I'm now studying Accounting at Sydney. Before I finished my Bachelor degree in China, majoring in Journalism, and worked as trainee journalist for a newspaper for half year. During that time I felt I really need a more specialized view to analyse social issues.

So here I come to Australia, enjoying the crisp air, warm sunshine and famous beaches, in the meanwhile coping with countless figures and financial reports which drive me crazy every day, and struggling with the balance of study, work and social activities. Changing a major results in a series of changes in life as well.

I became a fan of BBC when I was a freshman at university in China, and applied for setting up a blog at Learning English once but didn't success unfortunately. Now I feel lucky to own my blog here and share my experience of studying and living in another country, which I believe is a treasure for one's lifetime.

Hope you enjoy my blog. Happy new year to everyone!

The past Christmas was my second Christmas in Australia. The one in 2010 I was invited to a local family and experienced the traditional western festival for the first time, with a peaceful and heart-warming time.

Last year however, things were a little different: I got a part-time job as cashier in Woolworths, one of the biggest supermarkets in Australia. And my shift fell on Christmas Eve! You must have imagined what a job I did that day, people constantly flooded in our store, shopping happily with their families, and coming to me usually with full trolleys of foods, drinks and festival decorations. It continually gave me an illusion that I was back in China. I kept on greeting people and scanning, until 10pm when our store was closed, with staffs standing at the gate to stop customers still flooding in.

It was quite a pleasant experience, however, to work on Christmas Eve. People are much happier than usual, they greeted you cheerfully, talked about their Christmas plans, even complains on overspending were in a hilarious way- just have a look at the smiles on their faces when people saw the long shopping receipts rolling out from printer!
Another benefit to work on Christmas Eve is, I got the first-hand information on what Aussies prepare for Christmas dinner. Frozen turkeys and hams were items I scanned most frequently (which were really heavy!) , sausages, puddings, lollies and boxes of soft drinks were popular as well. And of course, fruits and vegetables never fail to play an important part in Aussies' Christmas shopping list. Perhaps I got some ideas on how to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner for my friends and myself next year.

Tired but cheerfully, I finished my closing shift on Christmas Eve, one is always easily infected by the festival mood anyway. All shops and supermarkets won't open after boxing day in my community. Leaving the store and half way home, I suddenly remembered there's not even breadcrumb left in my fridge.



  • Comment number 1.

    Hi, Xiaowei , How are you ? Happy new year and hope you well .
    I'm from Taiyuan ,Shanxi province of China as well .
    and I've settled here in the UK about 5 years and I think UK is a good place to learn English .
    I'm interested in social job and try to help others . I am plan to go to univeristy and I want to choose a subject of Journalism, do you think that is a good career ?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Xiaowei,
    First and foremost I just want to say´ Happy New year Xiaowei´and welcome as the blogger of the month for January.
    I was reading your blog and, out the blue,memories from my life in USA back to me.I was facing up similar experiences working overthere in Christmas:Same season...same schedule..same closing shifts.. :( but that´s the life..no complaints about.
    Your blog was very interesting and your English at first glance looks fine , understandable and easy to follow up.Congratulations!.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    All the best,

    Colombia,South America.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    Nice to meet you. And thank you for this wonderful blog. I've enjoyed reading it.

    It's impressive to know about your Christmas Eve. You look as though you've had a rough night as a cashier. I could imagine. You did't mention how hard it was though.
    I'd like to give a pat on your back. We should know there are many people who are still working hard when others celebrate their holidays. Your blog reminded me my own son who is studying abroad like you.

    Oneday, when you go shopping to celebrate your Christmas, you would think that night shift at a foreign country. You would give a warm smile for them who work there.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Xiaowei,
    and welcome in our great family!
    Thank you for your blog and good luck for this new and helpful experience!
    I hope to read more about your actual country and to see some pictures too (unfurtunately I never visited Australia).
    Best regards

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Xiaowei!

    I´m a Colombian women :)
    Actually I´m a lawyer and in this moment i want to practice and improve my English so I do really think that speaking with people like you I will have the opportunity to improve it!

    In the other hand, my Christmas eve was the family space and time that I could have! But, I´m living in a different city from my natal place so it makes me travel each time I want to be with them....

    In this moment i have to leave you, but tomorrow i will be in contact!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello and welcome Xiaowei!
    It has been wonderfully uplifting to read your blog: Having to work until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve is real hardship I think, and yet you are conveying such a good mood, such a positive atmosphere - no word of complaint, no mumbling or grumbling. Kudos to you!
    In Austria, where I come from, working hours like yours would be quite unthinkable in a supermarket on Christmas Eve. After all, our main celebration is on Christmas Eve. That's when we get together around the Christmas tree, remember the birth of Jesus Christ, sing songs and open presents. All the shops basically close at lunchtime or in the early afternoon, but I know, that's different in Australia.
    So you went from journalism to accounting - from China to Australia - you must be a very versatile and open-minded person. Can't wait to hear more about your life!
    Best wishes
    Elisabeth from Austria

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi liangsheng, thanks for your message. Journalist is in my view a challenging but exiting career. You work under deadline everyday, meet a lot of interesting people and learn new things as well. Selecting Journalism as your course in universities in UK must be a wonderful experience, since you may have opportunities to learn a lot from the top medias of the world there.
    Having said that, my advice would be to do a bit research on the course offered by different universities, comparing the subjects and trainings they have, and career development after graduation.

    Wish you enjoy your choice and all the best for the new year!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Alejap88,

    Thank for your comment. I'm glad to meet so many new friends like you here and I'll be very happy if we can share more about our daily lives in future. Waiting to hear from you soon!

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks everyone for your encouragement and sharing. I'm very happy to meet so many new friends here, and I'd be glad to share more my life in Australia. It's really a beautiful country.
    Happy New Year to all!

  • Comment number 10.

    Hie Xiaowei.Your English is very good and your writing style is interesting.I am looking forward to reading your blog and wish you good luck!I believe chinese people celebrate New Year a bit later,around February ,I think. Still a Happy New Year !.
    I guess it must be amasing to work and live in Australia,where weather is beautiful and sunny most of the time .Learning English in English-speaking country is another benefit and a great opportunity to experience Aussie culture.

  • Comment number 11.

    hello and Happy New Year to all of you ! i'm pleased to be a part of the bbc blog activities. This is an instructive publishing which takes me to the remote areas such as Australia. Currently leaving in Africa, this is an advantage
    to know how other people spend their christmas eve.

  • Comment number 12.

    Personally I think that shops into such day should be opened at the latest to 14.00 pm. People can calmly do shopping earlier, the economy surely will not fall. It seems to me that you are a very ambitious person.... Your knowledge of English is impressive, you had to put so much effort in it, no wonder it is characteristic for Asian people, You are very hardworking. I wish you all the best, a dream come true...


  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Xiaowei,
    Congratulation you for getting chance as a student blogger. This is Majumder also from ASIA.
    From your blog I can see you have a very clear vision to be establish yourself as a journalist. I appreciate it. Not only this profession is honorable but also challenging. And you are doing whatever you need to achieved this. For example you are studying Accounting with is not directly involve with your journalism however will help you to analyze social view.

    Austrelia is very good filed for study what I have heard from some of my friends who went there for study. So I think you are in right place from where you will learn according to goal. I also have an intention to visit this country later on a suitable time.

    I think you are very lucky person who had a great experienced on Christmas Eve from different environment. As well as a Cashier at a Supermarket where you have seen different people with different interest, different choices, different classes! It’s really amazing. Of course you have missed your FNF and own country China!

    As a IT professional and employee of a company that is following foreign Calendar, I also work sometime on the special day and feel same like you. Although I don’t have opportunity to meet with the local people however I miss my FNF when I’m in a break between the jobs.

    As a professional we have to consider everything and should be practical. I hope you also will be successful if your profession as you are determined.

    Thanks and regards.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    Congratulation on being picked as January BBC Student blogger!
    I have enjoyed reading your post, your English is great I bet you have studied it for many years. As many people noticed in their comments you definitely have a very nice style of expressing your thoughts.
    Waiting for the next exciting post from you.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thank you Xiao wei(小薇) ,I have the clue now .

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    It was a pleasure to read your blog. I've just discovered this part of BBC, and your post is the first I read here. Congratulations for the blog!
    It's always pleasant to see how do people all over the world celebrate Christmas. For my part, it's the 6th time I spend Christmas far from my family because of my studies. My wish is that things will change for the next Christmas. Wish you the best for 2012!

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi,Xiaowei! I read your blog with pleasure. I envy you 'cause you are from a nice country and have a oppotunity to live and study in a lovely country, Australia. I'd like to know both.
    I wish you learn very much in your job and about Australia too. Then you teach us your new knowledge.
    I'm waiting your next post.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Xiaowei!

    It's a pleasure knowing you. I've been very interested to read your blog; as the other writers have written I think you have an excellent english, clear and fluent. I am from Italy and It would be my dream travel through China; I'd also like visit Australia but I think is an Occidental country, similar at our style and costumes; China instead is completly different in every aspect of life.

    Bye for now and thanks for your blog

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    Welcome and congratulation for being selected as a student bloger, hope you have a great experience. Your first post was impressive and you seem to have good grasp on English. You are lucky to be living in Australia at this time of the year as it is summer there. I can't imagine Christmas in the summer season, I associate it with cold, darkness and long nights. Anyway, it will be nice to hear your views and experiences on this. You have already shared one experience in relation to Christmas and I was struck by the fact that the super store was open so late on Christmas eve. Here in the UK the super stores close quite early on Christmas eve, in my area anyway.

    Looking forward to your next post


  • Comment number 20.

    Im a japanese women . I want to improve my English so looked for the way to learn English with pleasure .Im happy to find this site.
    Xiaowei ,Your blog is great! I also got part time job at CVS(24 hour open)on Cristmas and I felt it was unhappy. But I read your blog and I could notice that most important thing is my mind . During my work I didnt smileo(maybe...). It isnt well with Cristmas. Next Cristmas, I want to spent a good day with smile.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Xiaowei

    Happy New Year. I am from Burma. I am currently living in London. I am also studying accounting as a part time student. You only been in there for 2 years and your English is so great. I really want to write like you. I never satisified my English espacially writting. I am working in Finance department at marketing company. I have to cover reception duty sometimes as part of my job. I have serious issue with telephone answering. I couldn't catch up the name and if I don't get it right afer two times, I lost my confident. I am pretty sure you have same problem with listening when you first arrive in Sydney. I am glad seeing people from Asia like you writing good English and it encourage me to study harder. Keep trying Xiaowei. I am really enjoy reading your blog.


  • Comment number 22.

    Hi, Xiaowei and Happy New Year from Spain

    Could you tell us the main differences you find between Australia and China ?

  • Comment number 23.

    hi Xiaowei, happy new year and welcome!! I'm looking forward to read about your stories!!

    best regards!!

  • Comment number 24.

    I have the same expierence last year :/ that wasn't my best Christmas

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Discip,
    Thank you and Happy New Year to you too!
    As far as I've noticed, the biggest difference between the two countries is the identification of community. Take Sydney for example, in this city there are many local government areas which further contains some suburbs. In each suburb there's a main shopping center or at least a relatively large-size supermarket, public schools, churches and hospitals as well. The quality of these infrastructures in each suburb are similar.You may find the shopping center in each suburb is like a copy of the one in all other suburbs, stores in are nearly the same. That's why I feel a strong sense of living in community since I came to Aussie, you can always find everything you need from everyday necessities to public service in your living area without travelling far.
    In China things are different. In a medium-size city like the one I came from, main shopping centers, schools and hospitals (usually the best) are localed in the center of city, which makes it a really prosperous place. You'll seldom find same foods,goods or stores in different business streets. But at the same time it means you often have to travel to find this dynamic world, coz life is relatively quiet in other living areas, where usually medium-small sized supermarkets or vege-fruit markets can be found. So in China I always take living as life in a city, instead of in a community.

    Your question is really nourishing, it pushes me to do a lot of research on administrative division of Aussie which I‘m often a bit confused before. Comparing the differences between Aussie and China is one of my interest anyway :)

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello! Interesting situation......How much time more do you intend to stay in Australia? And why did you decide to live there? tell me....

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi Marcos Umberto,

    Thanks for your post. I intend to live in Sydney for another 1 year, by the time I finish my degree. I made my decision to study in Aussie mainly because the education in accounting here provides relatively higher reference to the situation in my home country. Besides, as a multi-culture country, Australian provides me a view of understanding people from different cultural backgrounds as well,which hopefully will help me to build up my analysis ability to different situations when I return to the workplace.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    Thanks for your story! It was really fun to read your post, and to imagine about the Aussie supermarket crowded with cheerful people and loaded trolleys on Christmas Eve. I hope you had a really nice new year holidays after your hard work on that day.

    I am from Japan, and I'm also considering about going to a graduate school in a foreign country in the near future. But actually, I'm feeling quite nervous about going out from my country. It's not only because I've never been in a foreign country, but also I've never lived apart from my family and friends before.

    So, if you could share your experience on your study and life in Australia a little bit, it will be really appreciated. What is the best part about studying aboad, and what is the most difficult part about living and studying in a foreign country for you?

  • Comment number 29.

    hi dear teacher,I'd like to ask you sth. I woud like to use British english as much as possible I frequently watch Tv programmes in both US and British english but I live in Turkey and our channels broadcast few british programmes we watch mostly American ones and I am having much greater di
    fficulty in getting the meaning of UK programmes than American ones :mostly I fail What is the source of my weakness and how can I achieve this problem.I do need your very advice thank you for your help

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Saki,

    Thanks for your comment. Your English is very good so I guess you don't have to worry too much about language if you decide to study in a English-speaking country.

    During the first few months after I came abroad, I felt exited and was interested in everything that is different from my home country. Then after a period of time, this sense of refreshment disappeared and was taken place by loneliness, which I think is something most people studying and living abroad have to face to. Soon I felt I need to find ways to get rid of it, and my way is to keep myself busy:I do a part-time job, go to gym and meet some few friends in these activities.

    I would say staying alone in a foreign country is a precious experience for the life. There are so many times when I faced new situations or was in trouble, and have to find ways to get out of them by myself. I would like to share more about life and study abroad in future.

    All the best and I'm looking forwards to hear from you about your plan on studying in aother country.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi cagatayfirat,

    Nice to hear from you. I'm currently a student as well and I like Britain TV and radio programs too. I do often watch TV, so I enjoy these programs mainly on the internet.I would recommend some programs I find interesting and can always be find on BBC Learning English website, such as Flatmates, the English We Speak,etc. Besides there are some programs that are especially helpful to our grammar and pronunciation on this website as well. Wish you enjoy it.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Xiaowei,

    First of all, Happy new year!

    Your blog is fantastic and your writing is excellent. I am an accountant too. I am bachelor in accountancy. I love learning English language and be fluent as a native, but unfortunately learning a new language in this level is hard and need a lot of time. You are very lucky that live in Australia. You can improve your English and study a good field in university, indeed you kill two birds with one stone.
    The new year in our country is diffrent from Europe and China. Our new year is "Nourouz", the first day of spring in Iran, about middle of March.
    I hope I can participate in your discussions and learn more.



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