With the level of international students in Australia on the rise, it is no wonder the world is becoming more cosmopolitan. With the impact of globalisation, individuals are categorising themselves as citizens of the world, accepting and valuing difference and diversity as well as an openness to change and engagement with world issues such as history, politics and cultural diversity. However, it is evident that international students in Australia face many concerns and difficulties in becoming accustomed and comfortable in the Aussie culture.
Safety and security, exploitation in housing and employment, transport and visas and migration are just some of the issues international students in Australia have to overcome (Vogl and Kell 2011). But yet of all the social and academic issues and problems facing international students, the problem they themselves most often refer to is difficulties with English. Vogl and Kell and tutorial discussion reiterate this claim as many examples were provided stating that the Australian language and our slang is difficult to interpret the real meaning of what is being communicated. Our culture’s idiosyncrasies and pace of speech often makes it difficult for international students to keep up with the conversation and have an input themselves.
Most international students want closer interaction with local students, and are prepared to take risks to achieve this in an attempt to overcome the language barrier. It is a two-way street for international and local students in becoming open to cultural acceptance. While international students may be shy and nervous about approaching a local student in case of language differences, it is the exact same for local students striking up a conversation with someone from another country who may speak a different language. But, it is only when one steps outside this comfort zone that cultural competence and be achieved and unpredictable relationships can be formed.This here is a photo of the staff at the Summer camp I worked at during the American Summer of 2012. Just by looking at the individuals in the photo, it is impossible to determine who is American and who is not, if any other than myself. In fact, there are 9 different countries represented including United States, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Iceland, England, Germany, Sweden and Ireland. The point I am trying to make is that before hearing someone speak it is impossible to know their level of English. Judging and making assumptions on how an individual looks can prevent communication and long-lasting relationships with them. While it took some getting used to understanding each culture’s accent and slang, the journey provided me with experiences and friendships that I will never forget and always cherish. Stepping outside your cultural comfort zone will provide you with unimaginable experiences.