Moving abroad is one of the most challenging experiences an individual can encounter in their lifetime. I can say this from experience. As a French-born student, raised in England before moving to Australia in 2005, I can safely say that adapting to an unfamiliar culture is very difficult but rewarding. Moving to Australia, at first, took a negative toll on me. I found myself isolated, neglected from locals and homesick. But as time went on, I began to adapt and my connection to others improved. For international students, however, I feel that the adapting process may be slightly harder.
Kell and Vogel (2007) state that the “achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment but also their social and cultural adjustment”. International students generally find problems in adapting to academic life abroad, particularly socially and culturally. According to Kell and Vogel (2007) international students in Australia often struggle with the English used by locals because it is significantly different to the English language they were taught prior to studying overseas. Furthermore, international students often find it difficult to establish common ground with Australian students. An article in The Age reveals that in the 240 students interviewed from 11 different universities, half of them cited the making of local friends as a major cause for their loneliness in their time in Australia. This is an issue which could have a negative effect on the Australian economy (who thrive on the continual income of international students). However, this issue can easily be fixed if Australian students become a lot more culturally aware and much less parochial.
On a more positive note, studying abroad can provide international students with a different perspective on culture and the world. It also allows international students to obtain multiple cultural identities and also gain confidence in themselves for further trips.
Kell,P & Vogl, G 2006, International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, in S Velayutham & A Wise (eds), Everyday Multiculturalism Proceedings, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, pp. 28-29.
Ryan, D 2010, ‘Tongue ties break down the barriers’, The Age, June 4, viewed 25th August 2014, http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/tongue-ties-break-down-the-barriers-20100604-xk0w.html
(Image) AUG 2012, Institution of The Month: University of Wollongong, AUG, October 2012, viewed 25th August 2014, http://augstudy.com/australia/institution-of-the-month-2012-10/