English or Australian? International Students Guide to the Land Down Under


There is an ongoing joke that within your first semester of university you will be sitting on the grass with all of your new multicultural friends.

Often there is a follow up of that joke “Six months into Uni and haven’t sat in a circle with my multicultural friends yet…”

Why is it so difficult to have that circle of multicultural friends?

What makes Australian universities so hard for internationals to socialize when the reputation of our universities for academic standards is one of the best. Why so many individuals make the journey to our island in hopes of being accepted and having a broad, enjoyable university experience.

A study conducted shows that:

“International students who made local friends were more satisfied with their international education. They were also more willing to recommend their university to others” (The Australian, 2014)

However, what makes are the qualities that prevents so many international students actually embracing the Full-Australian educational experience?

Our parochialism (narrow-mindedness) may account for so many internationals students struggling adjust to life in Australia, like many cultures we have our own way of life, but we seem to have a more complex culture.  The concept of Cosmopolitanism, which means being a global citizen, is one that Australians struggle to grasp on many levels, being an island we often seemed isolated and distant and less informed about the various cultures surrounding us, which is now affecting our behavior towards the international students that are attending our universities. The idea of being more open and valuing the different cultures that have entered our, now, multicultural country is vital in accepting the internationalized educational system we now have.

But ultimately, it is our language barriers…

“It is said of Australian English that it has a wide range of inventive and colourful slang and colloquialism. It is perhaps truer to say that a range of colloquialism is much the same as in any other language but Australians make more of it.  Indeed they sometimes flaunt” (Kell and Vogl, 2007)


Many international students spend years learning English in preparation to coming to Australia for university, but upon arrival are confused with the local language. The issue is they have not recognized the hybridity of Australians language which is fast-paced with a lot of colloquiums and “a distinctive accent described as high-pitched, nasal, lazy or drawling. Australian English has been depicted as featuring informality, abbreviated expressions, rhyming slang, as well, as descriptive similes” (Kell and Vogl, 2007)

This aspect of Australian life has caused international students to stray away from the domestic students and pair up with those of their own culture, for a sense of comfort, familiarity and understanding. This factor has assisted in international students coming to Australia to increase their education but not have the full university experience, as intended by many of them.



Reference List:

ELIZABETH REDDON, 2014, Are international students satisfied?, The Australian, viewed August 18, 2016, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/are-international-students-satisfied/news-story/7214486c0fe51bcf1fbea4d2bb6b670a

Kell, P & Vogl, G, 2007, ‘ International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, P 1-10


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