The International Struggle

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It isn’t surprising that due to the rapid increase of globalization, International education is becoming more and more popular. The fact that we are no longer restricted by the barriers of our own country in order to fulfill our education provides us with the opportunity to expand our knowledge and to be exposed to various international experiences. However, is this particular experience as positive as the student expects it to be?

“International education is not the rich, inter-cultural experience it could be” (Marginson 2012)

It’s only expected that when an international student visits a foreign country, they aim to increase their interaction between themselves and the locals, however, the research of Simon Marginson suggests that most local students are either not interested or they don’t know how to initiate a conversation with them. He emphasizes that “local practices must change…Australians are often too parochial, trapped within an Australian centered view of a diverse and complex world” (Marginson 2012)
International students are seemingly expected to accomplish the process of ‘acculturation’ in order to ‘meet the requirements and habits of the host country’. This involves the student making a progression from the norms and behaviors of their home country, to the norms and behaviors of the host country. But despite this, ‘the international student is routinely seen as a deficit’ in regards to the host country’s standards.

So is Australia being too ethnocentric? Are we so ignorant to believe that we know what’s best because we are the best? Marginson states that in Australian higher education, it is taken for granted that the educators from the host country know what is best for the international student, following the notion of “Why would international students enroll in English speaking institutions unless they wanted to be ‘like us’?”(Marginson 2012)
But how can we as Australians truly believe this statement without first trying to comprehend the difficulties these international students face? We must empathize their struggle in having to adapt to a new culture. For instance, the research of Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl illustrate that although these students may have studied the English language since junior school, they struggle listening and speaking in English due to our Australian accent. In most cases, they are used to hearing English spoken in American or in the accent of one of their own, making it difficult to understand Australians. They also found that what didn’t help was Australia’s hybridization of the English language, involving slang and frequent abbreviations. “Australians even shortened University to ‘uni’ which tended to confuse students who were used to a more formal type of English” (Kell et al 2007)

In conclusion, i still believe that international education still has the potential to become an enriching experience for any student, however there are certain aspects to consider and understand for both the international student as well the individuals of the host country.

References
– Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience. International Education As Self-formation’, University of Wollongong, 20/8/2014

– Kell, P, Vogl, G 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating Life and Study in Australia through Australian Englishes’,Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, 20/8/2014

– Image: North Central College <http://northcentralcollege.edu/admission/international&gt;

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