Becoming a Deaf Expat

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Some of you may be wondering just what the h*ck I’ve been doing for the past few weeks!

Well, I have moved to Shanghai. For a new job opportunity that I could not refuse. I also cannot lie: I am also loving the ‘expat’ experience in Shanghai. The vibe of the city is just incredible and people of many different cultures live respectfully of each other. It’s something that I can learn from Shanghai.

I am also so grateful to have the opportunity to live in a completely different culture, language, tradition and lifestyle overseas. In fact, I would even say I feel so lucky to experience this uniquely as a “Deaf expat”. Often, I find myself comparing to what Aussies have back at home. We are really lucky to live in such a great country. Trust me, I now know this better after living in Shanghai for a few weeks now!

You know that four week annual leave? In China, you might be lucky to get ten days off after 10 years. Public holidays? We have them, but we “make up” for some public holidays by going back to work on Saturday or Sunday. This just makes me feel so lucky to be “Australian”! So, Aussies… go kiss the ground because you are SO LUCKY live in a very beautiful country with a fantastic lifestyle and basic rights!

Well… almost.

You see, I still have a bank account back in Australia. It’s very important, that bank account. It has all my hard-earned money that I plan to keep while I live overseas. In fact, it is an emergency fund in case something goes belly up in China. However, I just recently found out that in order for me to access this account while I am overseas, I must call the bank to make any transaction while I am overseas.

Call. Bank. For Every. Transaction.

Yep. You read this right. I couldn’t believe it. As I was already in China – and the National Relay Service* does not work for Australian expats overseas – I had to ask my dear friend if she would be comfortable in making the call through NRS for me back in Melbourne. I had to tell her my personal bank account number, my personal bank code and my personal bank password. I was deeply uncomfortable in doing this but what else can I do?

Through my friend, I pleaded with the bank for another solution for deaf expats who live overseas and do not have the privilege (or should we call it, “basic human right”?) of calling via telephone. I even emailed National Relay Service in which they responded that I could use the TTY. Unfortunately, the TTY is not an option for me in China. I even offered to pay through an account to continue using the National Relay Service while I live in China. They rejected this possible solution and did not offer any other solution.

So for now, if you are thinking of moving overseas and want to avoid the stress of dealing with banks back in Australia, I would suggest crossing all of these banks off your list:

–       ING

–       Westpac

–       St George

–       Bank of Melbourne

All of these banks require SMS codes to your Australian mobile number, call the bank via overseas number or to physically go into a branch within Australia. They are unable to be flexible to meet the needs of Deaf expats.

Banks** friendly for deaf expats:

–       ANZ

–       Suncorp

–       Ubank

–       NAB

–       Commonwealth

**NB: Do please let me know what other banks are good/bad to add to this list so this can be helpful for those who will also live overseas!

So far, ANZ bank has ticked all but one box for deaf expats. The only biggest letdown with ANZ? Their savings account rate is low compared to other banks (for example: ING is at 1.81%. ANZ is at 0.05%).

Still, I am not complaining. It’s better than not accessing funds immediately in an emergency. I am now moving all my savings to ANZ. However, deep in my heart, I hope you have taken a leaf out of this challenge as a Deaf expat living overseas as it saddens me to still experience this basic human right denied, even when I am so far away from Australia. And what’s more, these are barriers that no hearing person ever face when living overseas having the time of their lives.

And, isn’t it any wonder why so many hardworking deaf people become poorer and poorer as the choices are becoming more and more limited?

It’s something to ponder about…

*I have tried using NRS via VPN but China has blocked all Australian VPNs so NRS has now blocked me from making calls via China. Trust me, I’ve tried everything!!

 

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