Since moving from Sydney to the Southern Highlands midway through 2003, i’ve noticed the lack of diversity in the community that i have been subjected to, in particular the high school i attended. The students there were predominately caucasion Australian’s and so upon starting my tertiary studies at UOW, i have experienced a huge culture shock. I have been amazed at how diverse the students and staff base are in their cultural backgrounds and i feel that this is such a positive factor amongst others, of our University. I think it’s wonderful that International students are given the opportunity to study and live in this beautiful country of ours, and what better place to be than Wollongong?
Studies have shown that international students are highly motivated and determined when it comes to their education and work ethic, which seems to be lacking amongst Australian students in certain demographics. I think we should all be taking a leaf out of international student’s mentality and strive to be our best and achieve the best result possible. I also think that we should be inviting and open to sharing our experiences with others as this is a perfect way to boost moral and support in our community.
However, in this weeks reading “International Students: Negoiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes” (Kell, P & Vogl, G) there are several issues that have been raised by international students upon their transition into Australian education, such as University. For instance, interviews with several international students showed that the majority of them found it difficult to understand “Australian English”, due to the slang and lazy culture that Australians adopt when speaking and because of this students couldn’t understand certain expressions or sayings as they had learnt the proper grammar of “English” itself and this proved challenging when the students were trying to fit in with their peers. It’s clear that Australian culture is centred, for most parts, around the pub and club scene and many International students aren’t able to go out and drank for both financial and/or religious circumstances and this became detrimental for them as they found it harder to meet and form relationships and friendships with Australian students who had a strong affiliation with the drinking/partying scene. Overall, international students found that Aussie kids were difficult to maintain a conversation with, as the cultural barriers between them often left them with little or no common ground, aside from topics such as the weather and travel and it was also suggested that: “In contradiction to the image of a friendly and ‘laid back’ country, to some, Australians can appear ambivalent, distant and disinterested in international studies and foreigners in genal.”
This is seemingly concerning, yet if i take a moment to observe interactions between international students and Aussie students at UOW, they all seem to be friendly and positive conversations and everyone is made to feel included. I think it is time to banish cultural stereotypes and impressions regarding international and Australian students in order for everyone to function harmoniously in our learning environment and to embrace our diversity as a University.