International Students in Australia

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International students are given the opportunity to come to places like Australia to study and immerse them with the culture, yet sometimes the reception isn’t always positive. “A crucial element in the achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment.”(Kell, P and Vogl, G, 2007) Socialising and deciphering written English language to spoken Australian ‘colloquial’ English language can prove challenging and often takes longer than international students expected to understand.

Within university life and in particular, campus living, international students at the University of Wollongong are abundant. Being able to meet them and ask a little about what they’ve experienced so far comes in slight variation, with some enjoying the task of adapting to the “Aussie” slang and try and incorporate it into their learnt speaking English, predominantly these students are from Europe or the US. The Chinese exchange students tend to keep to themselves in groups of other international or Australian born Chinese groups. These Asian groups, according to Kell and Vogl, are seen as homogenous or of the same kind, and it’s detailed that they then find it hard to fit into the mix of cultures and their overall well-being in Australia as they’re dealing with their own hardships including “homesickness, financial difficulties, language difficulties, problems dealing with university staff and other authorities, loneliness, isolation from other classmates and anxiousness about speaking in the classroom in front of classmates and lecturers” .”(Kell, P and Vogl, G, 2007)

The idea of language plays a major role in the adjustment of living and later studying in another country, and Australia is perhaps the greatest challenge due to our iconic accent. Studies have shown that the English spoken language of Australia and the written version vary tremendously and have been noted by international students as one of the key barriers in their understanding locally. These students spend time prior to coming to Australia mastering the written, formal English language yet when they arrive the “local accents, fast speech and Australian colloquialisms” reduce their ability to communicate effectively to locals. It’s noted that it’s not that these students find Aussie students unfriendly or disrespectful; it’s that they’re unaware on how to approach and/or hold a conversation fluently.

Some Australians have a tendency to uphold negative stereotypes towards international students deeming them to be lazy, boring or useless and thus, “too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world” (Simon Marginson, 2012).  Studies have proven the potential in students coming from overseas being effective and motivated workers who enjoy the mix of culture and professionalism. Their records from the institutions they have moved from indicate they’re more than ready for the workplace, excelling in marks sometimes greater than that within Australia.  This concept of ethnocentrism which is “characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior” (Sukhmani Khorana, 2015) keeps a narrow view and doesn’t allow for equality within the learning experience. The Indian and Australian governments are working on improving these situations for International Indian students studying in Australia, with a renewed focus on recognition of qualifications and a $1 million boost to the Australia-India Education Council.

References:

Beckie Smith 2015, India, Australia to further collaboration, qualification recognition, The Pie News, Viewed 31st August 2015, < http://thepienews.com/news/india-australia-to-further-collaboration-qualification-recognition/&gt;

Kell, P and Vogl, G (2007) ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’,  Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.

Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents/doc/uow119828.pdf

Sukhmani Khorana 2015, ‘Internationalising Education and Cultural Competence’, Lecture Powerpoint Slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30th August 2015, < https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/course/view.php?id=6455&gt;

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