time to reflect

Research is a mess of the mind and it is continuous, ever-changing and constant. There will always be something to research. This project has painted the better process of researching into my knowledge and I have came across many valuable resources that make a better research project. I have now started to consider the ethics of my research, the honesty of my data and the timeliness of my presentation. I’ve learnt about the best way to keep participants anonymous and completely involved in their understanding of my study. 

Before starting my project, it was very hard to choose a topic until I sat back and just looked at my surroundings – an International student community, not one that was labelled nor widely known but a community nonetheless. Thus I began wondering about them, how they are in terms of individual experiences and I started creating basic conversation to hear them out. Then I wondered about their roles in the student body and the sharpening of my project lead to questioning the same role, but in University events. Prior to small conversation, I had the belief that they were socially outcast due to their cultures and my research finding backed that up as: 1) they could speak English fluently but do not recognise the Australian accent, 2) foreigners put themselves forward and make risks to learn more about the culture here and 3) they’re all in agreement with the creation of an event where the International and domestic students may join together to talk and share their experiences, to understand one another better. 

I came across a lot of errors of data and errors of judgement but I’m proud of the way I dared to plant so many seeds, ready to pluck the dead ones out and focus on the sprouting flower – the focus on cultural differences that do indeed exist in University events. I now know that despite beginning with a timetable plan and a Gantt chart, life will get in the way but that should not stop your research and your passion in answering the ‘Why?’s that you would have created. I feel that my research was sufficiently done in the time frame given and criteria of BCM students. 

My choice on surveying students and then picking out interviewees from there was very helpful as it allowed me to know how much broader and deeper I needed to delve in the interviews with the candidates. It also allowed me to build a very trusting and honest relationship with some people in the community, to help understand what lays in their wishes and their personal opinions that landed upon deaf ears. These interviews not only successfully informed my research and told a story, but it also opened my eyes to the different cultures’ part in the community – it made me a better person, ready to be more friendly to everyone in the society and consider their difficulties.

This study was overall quite challenging and if I was to do research on a similar topic, there are many aspects I see myself improving on. Such as being more determined to contact more participants according to the criteria and finding more ways of analysing qualitative data. I would also focus on keeping true to the timeline that I had planned. For the best results, I believe that I’d need to be sorely focused on that research and not have other subjects or complications interrupting the process. This journey started very broad until I found something deep to delve in – but I believe my research on International students will continue, as I look upon other areas of difficulties for International students. I also am utterly stern in my belief that research regarding the International community is not complete.

op: university events and cultural awareness

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.

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     (fig.1) International Students Arrival: 2005-09 [Larson, Payne and Tomison, p 55]  

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 (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) Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 11.02.15 pm.pngfeeling 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.”

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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.

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 (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.”

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 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 Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 10.14.20 pm.png
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 Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 6.26.51 pm.pngAmerican 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.

 

> cultural differences and education expenses

“I discovered issues with the direction of my project as I’ve found more severe issues – specifically in the expenses of English education rather than the language barrier itself.” I had told Kate as I struggled to make sense of my project.

A few weeks ago I’d started sending out surveys and Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 9.02.01 pm.pngrealised that not that many people were actually finding English that hard, which is evident in the results of the fifth question in my survey (pictured to the right). Originally, it had disappointed my original proposal, but I accepted and eventually allowed it to divert my attention.

This could be due to the fact that they would’ve been taught English in their home countries and the unlikeliness of the individual’s previous institution authorising their overboard studies had their English been insufficient.

The 2 more severe issues I found higher worth delving in was:

  1. The expenses of studying in Australia for international students.
  2. The social and cultural barriers – how being a foreigner has made them outcasted.

Firstly, as I had stated in my previous blog post (the proposal), the differences in studying expenses between international and domestic students is of paramount importance. They change and almost… label students. Conjoining a students’ capability to study overseas with their ability to pay for their education is a mistake.

Working class students from overseas may not be as fortunate to study in Australia yet they may actually have more to offer Australian education.

Their social status in their home country does not determine their intelligence.

Australia says that as a nation, we are ‘open-minded and diverse’ yet we are missing out on the distinctive thoughts and brains of those students who cannot afford to pay for education in Australia.

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Secondly, the obligation to understand each other’s cultures and traditions is a fundamental notion. In my eight survey question, I had asked:

What do you wish you could do, but couldn’t because you felt your English was not good enough?

My results, while they had slightly neglected English as a problem, showed a more specifically personal connection with the cultural issues. Results are as shows:

“My English is really good, but being foreigner it is hard to meet and get local friends. That is why I tend to spend most of my time with other international students. I think it is just a shame to miss out the local culture, customs and the opportunity to learn the language from the locals more.”

“1. Giving charismatic and persuasive oral presentations. The barriers are mostly in my head–what if my accent sounds off-putting/what if I’m using a ridiculously wrong word–but they hinder me from naturally expressing my thoughts and arguments. 2. Becoming close friends with domestic students. It’s less about my proficiency in English though, I think, but more about cultural differences and limited time spent together in classes. Also, I don’t expect forming tight friendships at university would be as easy as it is back in school.”

“I think socialising was difficult, but it wasn’t really because of my English that I found it difficult, it was mostly because I was very aware that I was culturally different to most of the people around me.

“I wish I could have more local friends in the classroom hence could be able to exchange ideas upon our studies. But with the limited English level, it’s very hard to communicate with them. Most of the time they look so bored whenever I start to talk to them. And especially the presentations are my nightmares!”

In the last result (specifically “Most of the time they look so bored whenever I start to talk to them”), I thought back to a short research I had done last year on international students and I remembered a quote I had heard: “International students want closer interaction to local students and are prepared to take risks.. Most local students are not interested.” (Marginson 2012:1)

So in the background, the complication of  the social and cultural differences is the lack of locals’ understanding and openness toward international students, despite the International student’s eagerness to disregard their old ways in order to interact.’

We need to impede this by preventing cultural discrimination in Australia’s judging and stereotyping society. Local students’ kindness and patience toward their fellow foreigners (learning their cultures and contributing to equal rights) is one of the fundamental notions in terms of effectively improving International student’s experience in Australia.

 

Research Proposal

Exploring the ideal of the perfect university student experience, I found that the most evident issue in my environmental context is those of International students’.  There’s a high severity of problems that locals do not recognise, ranging from homesickness all the way to the inability of fitting in.

I wish to research those foreign University of Wollongong students and more importantly, I want to focus on their language barriers. Foreign student’s insufficient English has, unfortunately, severely impacted their education, social life, emotional/mental health and happiness.

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International students inadequate knowledge of the English language affects how they act in class and in social situations – which degrades their overall Australian-fused education experience. They have extra pressures of giving up more time and money to understanding course material and assignment requirements. Furthermore, a lot of international students are not confident enough to socialise and gain moral/emotional support from their teachers or peers. This influences a decrease of their mental health and sense of achievement. Their insecurity of using what they know of language will also prohibit them from speaking up in class, and they will remain in the dark instead of getting the full embrace of their courses. They also do not have the full student experience as an Australian as they are most likely to stick to similar people and not interact with locals – a proper UOW student experience includes socialising with Wollongong-residents who may introduce the special benefits and perks of behind-the-scenes life in Wollongong. The real issue in this, however, is the disinterest of locals as opposed to the lack of initiation of the foreign students. International students push their boundaries and language abilities but the confidence is met with a bored or disinterested resident. Another problem is the stereotype that an international student is stupid or lacking in their ability, just because they have difficulty understanding people talking to them in English.  

If an international student goes back to their country with no good reviews to share, their fellow citizens would not seek to come to Australia. What will happen to the globalisation of education? So we must make a change.

I have a lot of questions that I wish to answer with my project:

  • Just how much money and time do international students have to dedicate to understanding their courses?
  • Do they get less information than other students from courses because of their lack of comprehension? How much more are they actually able to learn?
  • How is foreigners mental health in university compared to natives?
  • What kind of average university student life are they missing out on? Does it change their overall student experience?
  • How much intelligence does international students have to offer Australian education?
  • What can the University or community due to make their experience and time in Wollongong better?

Seungik Cho, who studied a Master of Education, had wrote a thesis about Korean students in Wollongong English Language Centre in 1991. In pages 22-29, there is a deep analysation of the language problems Korean students had encountered and Cho compared them to representational studies who explored the complications of language for international students by using surveys and results. Two of the important studies regarding the English language problems were from ‘Bradley and Bradley (1984)’ and ‘Rao (1976).’

The university website with its list of fees also explores the fact that EnglScreen Shot 2018-03-15 at 4.14.28 pm.pngish is a costly education, allowing more than $500 extra for each course for international students in comparison to Australian domestic students.

My further research will give awareness to the suffering that these international students deal with and perhaps, give locals a means and understanding of how to support our fellow foreigners with different skin, culture and language.  It’s important to me as I’ve push myself to get to know a very large amount of foreign students.

This project will allow me to see between the benefits and the losses of being an international students and information is easily accessible for me as I have many friends that come from overseas. I also live in Bangalay, which is a campus accommodation with a lot of international students (every Wednesday nights, Student Leaders teach English slang – a good opportunity for me to gain some data and analysis). I will begin collecting data by conducting a survey to gain some generic data about the reality of International students before I finally authorise myself to interviewing international students. I also plan to find more resources from both legitimate Australian and foreign sources, seeding out my research to help it maintain its genuinely. I can also easily access human and literacy resources as I can speak 8 languages. I plan to build relationships with my information so that while I collect their data, I will also give them an outcome that will benefit their situation. I seek to make a change, I seek to be the voice of the foreigners.

To what extent has the English language truly effected the International students from the full UOW experience?

Bibliography

UOWCollege. (2018). Domestic Fees. [online] Available at: https://www.uowcollege.edu.au/current-students/fees/domestic/index.html [Accessed 13 Mar. 2018].

UOWCollege. (2018). International Fees. [online] Available at: https://www.uowcollege.edu.au/current-students/fees/international/index.html [Accessed 13 Mar. 2018].

Cho, S (1991). ‘Language Problems,’ The problems encountered Korean overseas students at the Wollongong English Language centre. 22-29.

research project idea// brainstorming

International and foreign students.

It’s simple, I want to do some research on them and their lives in University of Wollongong. Theres so much issues that locals do not seem to realise that international students have. Especially the language barrier, to sharpen the direction of my research project.

It’s important to me, I pushed myself as a local who can speak their languages, to get to know a very large amount of foreign students. They have a lot to say, but they can’t say it because they’re insufficient or insecure about their English. I live in Bangalay, the UOW student accomodation, where people from allover the world come and go.

They migrate here because they want to have an Australian experience –  a better education. They’re limited, some of them know it and some of them don’t. Because they can’t speak the native language, they’ll never be fully capable to ‘fit in.’

  1. Pressures of extra time and extra money to understand basic course material and assignment requirements. Local students have it easier than they think. Just how much money and time do foreigners give?
  2. Lack of confidence and insecurity – results in lack of ability to participate in class, and this prevents them from learning more than they actually do, from embracing the full potential of knowledge that can be gained in class. How much more can they learn?
  3. Isolation –  Sometimes they don’t even socialise at all, and no support is bad for their mental health in their time in Australia. How are international students mental health in comparison to native students?
  4. “University of Wollongong student experience.” Foreign students tend to only stick with people of their kind, unlikely to go out and make native friends and do ‘native things,’ Let’s be honest, the student experience of UOW includes joining Wollongong-residents showing us around the town they’ve lived in their whole lives in – these are the people that can show students the behind-the-scenes beauty of Wollongong. International students don’t mix with these kind of people, and they really should. What are they missing out on? Does it change their overall student experience?
  5. Stereotypes! Just because they can’t understand you, doesn’t mean they’re dumb or lacking, right? How much intelligence do international students have to offer Australian education?

I want to give them a voice.

curiosity, medicine for memory?

Curiosity is basically a medicine for memory! Has anyone else found that part of Gruber’s talk rather fascinating?? Perhaps that’s why I can only do any work at all if I find myself curious about something that an assignment asks me, yet get distracted by the amount of work I’ve got and try to juggle four subjects at once. I end up being really productive in all four before finally getting the answer to my first assignment’s question, #rip.

It’s more than just merely provoking a desire to know something.

How fascinating.

I remember watching a movie a while ago that surrounded the idea of just how much percentage of our brain we actually use but I can’t quite remember the name of the movie (yes, yes, I’ll try to google it – you know I’m just as typical as you). Why am I surprised that I just got frustrated because I don’t remember the name??

Let me try to find it.

Oh god, I can’t find it ;_;

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LUCY! That’s it. Okay, that took me a solid 3 minutes to find but it’s okay because now I feel satisfied like I just had a good ol slice of cake.

GUYS WHAT??? SHIORI KUTSUNA IS GOING TO BE IN DEADPOOL 2???? Oh my- she was great at playing Mika in the Japanese movie, “Oh Lucy!” wasn’t she? My friend made me watch it with her yesterday-

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, google searches do this to me. So much interesting information so unrelated yet fascinating. I think everyone has dealt with this problem. 

Okay.

So my interesting discovery is that curiosity is a driving factor for a clear memory – it actually increases brain activity levels. I wonder if any scientists have tried to experiment with using curiosity to push the limits of us using more than just ten percent of our brain abilities? Maybe they have? Maybe it’s up on the internet or out in the world somewhere?

I find myself as a naturally curious being and I’ve embraced that it is okay – more than okay – to be curious about how the world works or why. I ask a lot of questions. Maybe I’d be a good interrogator.

Now, regarding reliability – my photography lab lecturer mentioned that she was only okay with us analysing works from legitimate galleries and none from Instagram or Tumblr, etc. That triggered me. Okay sure, there are amazing works there and I’ll definitely give them some praise but don’t limit me. The world is constantly evolving and every generation has something new to offer – ideas that have never been seen before. I feel that a lot of adolescents have their own unique art style but just because they’re not ‘officially recognised’ (yet) doesn’t mean they’re not reliable right?

Knowledge keeps growing.

Curiosity will never stop at the rate that knowledge and information is growing.

It’s okay to be curious.