Understanding the experiences of students would not be complete if we had not considered the roles that our foreign friends play as a part of the University community. On the surface, International students are the quietest people in the classroom and even more, in social events. They would be the students sticking to the familiar and were unlikely to socialise with locals. This small aspect breeds the stereotype that International students are insufficient, incapable and socially outcast. Research into their emotions, views and personal lives as they live away from their comfort zones are ‘preliminary, inconclusive and not plentiful.’ [Kostogriz and Ata, 2015, p. 4] Neri and Ville (2006, p. 13) stated that culture shock was overcome by a ‘developing a circle of friends social networks.. clubs.. (and) paid or voluntary employment. Such networks may have aided students… to their general wellbeing.’ So this research evolves on their beliefs and follows the foreign role of the student body, specifically at their experiences in relation to University events as they stand with their own different cultures.
(fig.1) International Students Arrival: 2005-09 [Larson, Payne and Tomison, p 55]
(fig. 2) Willingness of Intl. Students
Based on respondent’s answers, this research had found that the student’s belief of how culturally open the University events were averaged at 56% out of 100%. 91.67% of those respondents had also experienced culture shock and believed that the University should have created events that “respect (ed) every student’s culture and show more concern for the people who are non-local.” A study had found that students also ‘report(ed) feeling they do not belong, to a considerable or great degree.’ [Thompson, Rosental and Russell 2006, p. 7] Some of the students that had not experienced culture shock found that they hadn’t because they “haven’t had much opportunities to actually experience culture shock and to interact with Australian friends.”
From the data received, I’ve noticed that a lot of the International students have actually left their culture behind and readily put themselves forward to adjust to a new culture. Participant two had said that when attending a University event, she was “willing to show people about my culture but I prefer to focus on hearing about their culture,” which relates to Marginson’s (2012, p. 1) belief that ‘International students want closer interaction to local students and are prepared to take risks… Most local students are not interested.’ Amongst a cultural group of participants, it was found that they knew of a community, club and association relevant to them, but they had no interest in joining due to lack of interest in their own culture. Participant three felt that “(the association) doesn’t include everyone; it does not represent all of us”. Some participants were proud of their cultures and others weren’t, but all of them were more interested in learning about the Australian and other cultures’ way of life.
(fig. 3) International Enrolment (2015) [Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training 2015, cited by StudiesInAustralia]
My most influential finding was that all candidates were interested in the creation of cultural events
, either based on every culture or specified in any one culture. They were interested in learning about other countries and some candidates were excited about teaching each-other about their customs/traditions. When they were asked about their experiences with University events, I found that most had never seen the University celebrate their customs and participant four had said that she would create an event and “invite people to… contribute something from their own cultures. An opportunity for people to speak and show stuff from their cultures.”
Participant three had suggested “invit(ing) some Australian students to join and share experiences with International Students,” on LHA Information Day so they’d be more familiar with each other. Another participant further argued
that the presence of locals would create a better understanding in the student community and a sense of familiarity for the International students – a sense of belonging as opposed to feeling outcasted and different.
Park (2016, p. 78-79) also reported that “Accentedness of students was an indicator of their status as non-native English speakers, it provoked bias and adverse attitudes towards them.” Data from this research had re-introduced the concept that many International students are actually quite fluent in English, but they find difficulty in University events because they do not recognise the Australian accent and have their own strong accents. An individual had stated, “Some cultures in Australia speak English well but some International students, they have heavy accents… Speaking English is something that shows up in how well you fit with the community.” This could also be due to the fact that all of the interviewed had experienced watching American or British rather than Australian movies before coming to Australia, as one participant had stated that “the film industry here in Australia doesn’t get much funding from the government… not funded enough for an International scale.” The same individual had stated that “Sometimes, I feel like I’m very lonely… People thought they shouldn’t talk to me because I’m not fluent in English but… I’m just not used to that type of English and accent.”
The study (while on a small scale and short time frame) came to the conclusion that while there are many available resources for both domestic and Internationals students, the verdict was that there are ways to make this regional University of NSW a better place of belonging for all the students. The marriage of both domestic and International alike, will bring upon the familiarity that is needed for the best outcome of such University events. With the close of this research, I purpose a wider and more dedicated research upon the experience and relationship of both International and domestic students in University events, to further understand the potential that this unity may bring.