University, once upon a time it was something that wasn’t an essential part in finding a job; but with a shifting society and employers looking for more experience and higher levels of education, it is becoming a must.

With this change, we are seeing more and more internationally students travelling to Australia to complete their studies.  One of the most daunting parts of the experience for students is overcoming the cultural barriers they may face. 

I can only imagine how truly difficult it must be for international students to settle in a country like Australia.  Packing your things and moving to foreign land would be tough, so I have an immense amount of respect for anyone who does take part in international exchange.

As noted by Marginson (2012), “The majority of international students live away from family.  So they must stand on their own feet, in a strange country.  They must acquire new information and new personal attributes very quickly, in their studies, their institutional dealings and their day-to-day lives.”

The most obvious problem in many cases is language, we are “unaware of the extent to which local accents, fast speech and Australian colloquialisms are going to reduce their (international’s) ability to speak and understand English in Australia” (Kell et al., 2007).  Research has found that the main problem that international students found was not their inability to understand written English, but more so when used in conversation.  This was due to Australians tending to mumble and slur their words, while also heavily relying on colloquial language (Kell et al., 2007).

I myself come in contact with international students in all of my lectures and tutorials, and the issue of language is one that has the potential to be easily fixed.  Marginson (2012) remarked that, exchange is an experience with immense potential to enrich the lives of all who are touched by it.  Much research suggests the pathway to improvement is in lifting the interactions between international and domestic students.

Awareness, is what is needed, awareness that International students may require a little help along in understanding the culture they’ve been thrust into.  A few kind words could be all someone needs to feel like they belong a little bit more.  So if you see an international student in your tutorial or just around the campus, introduce yourself and say “Hey!”.  It’s a great chance for you to learn about another culture as well.

Kell P & Vogl, G 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’ inEveryday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006, pp1-10.

Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, powerpoint slides, International education as self-formation, University of Wollongong, viewed 23 August 2014, pp 1-11.

Our World Interconnected

For many centuries, the way in which cultures have interacted has been largely restricted by their geography and in some instances, active resistance; like in the case of China and Japan.  As explained by Appadurai (p27, 1990) the main forces for any cultural interactions prior to the last century or so have been by means of warfare, or religious exploits (often involving warfare in some form).  Due to the limitations such as distance, technologies, any dealings between culturally and spatially separated had been sustained at great cost and with immense effort. 

Today, sustaining these international relationships can be as easy as the click of a button.  We live in what could be referred to as the ‘Golden Age of Globalisation’.  A time where issues that are affecting groups on one side of the globe can be witnessed in real-time by people in other time zones, continents and cultures.

Appaduri (p33, 1996), proposed a framework to explore the many dimensions of global cultural flows, they included; Ethnoscapes, Mediascapes, Technoscapes, Finacescapes, and Ideoscapes.  They are all interconnected and each play an important role in globalisation.  A perfected example of their interconnectedness is the way in which technoscapes and mediascapes work hand in hand.

Technoscapes refers to the ever fluid, global configuration of technology, and the way that it now moves (in both mechanical and informational forms), at high speeds across various kinds of once impervious boundaries (Appadurai, 1996).

The term Mediascapes was coined to describe the both the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information, be it through print, television, radio, or the internet, as well as the image of the world created by these forms of media (Appadurai, 1996).

Just last night, I was watching a live-stream of the riots and conflicts happening in Ferguson, Missouri.  The aftermath of the shooting of a young unarmed African-American male by a Police officer.  This is an issue concerning people I will never meet, yet here I was on the other side of the world, witnessing the violence and unrest.

But as Appadurai (p35, 1996) states, because my experience is not one that is directly involved with the issue, the lines between what is really happening in Ferguson, and what I am perceiving to be happening (having gathered information from multiple sources), may have become blurred due to the media bias and ideologies presented by some of the sources.

A really good quote by Appadurai (p38, 1996) to address this is, “For the ideas and images produced by mass media often are only partial guides to the goods and experiences that… populations transfer to one another”.





Appadurai, A (1996) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’ Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 27-47