From studying at university, I’ve come to see how multicultural, international and engaging our world can be. When I first started studying, I absolutely hated group work, having to be put into groups of people that I didn’t know and come up with an assignment together? No thankyou! However now, after a few semesters, I can really appreciate the use of group work within a subject and how it gets new people together from all over the world. I have made many new friends from socialising and interacting with other people, not just other Australian students, but American, Asian and European as well.
Marginson describes international education as ‘not the rich intercultural experience it could be’ (2012, pp.1). Some agree with Marginson, thinking that international students just come to Australia, get their degree or diploma, and then leave again. They don’t get involved with many of the locals and stick together or by themselves. According to Kell and Vogl (2007), international student find it hard to understand Australians’, because of our shortened words and colloquial language. This means that the international students lack confidence in speaking to anyone who is local, and for the many years they practice English as a second language, they can’t use it to talk or have a decent conversation. Another problem is that international students feel its hard to ‘break the ice’ and begin conversation with locals, and also that many Australians didn’t know much about the international students culture or countries of origin.
Marginson (2012) believes that before international students come to a different country, whether their English in proficient or not, they need to practice a certain number of other skills first. These include flexibility, critical thinking, reflexivity, empathy, understand divergent points of view, cope with ambiguity and uncertainty, and culture negotiation’. Coming to a different country to study by yourself would be one of the hardest things to I think. With the added difficulties of language barriers and culture differences, I can understand why international students stick to themselves and are shy around locals. Through a greater understanding of the difficulties international students face and the difficulties they have in trying to understand our speech, I will personally make more of an effort to talk to international students in my tutorials, or even just around the university.
Kell, P and Vogl, G 2007, ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference
Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural expereince: International education as self-formation’, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne.