The jitters of being an international student

To begin this post with, I’m not an international student but I’ve only moved to Australia 3 years ago. Before moving, I grew up in Malaysia so I would still really consider myself pretty new towards this country. Perks of being an international student? I think i know it all. The downside? I know it all too. It’s easy because I could relate my life to theirs as I have a handful of international students as friends from different countries.

Locals usually underestimate the endeavours that international students go through to actually move out of their home country and to be accepted to a completely diversified country. Alienation and cultural shock would be the first two reactions once an international student starts living here for the very first day. Australia is a very different country from most Asian countries. “Language could not be understood without close attention to the cultural context in which it was situated,” asserted by Bourdieu (Jenkins 1992: 152) International students are here to further their studies or to understand and improve their English skills. But without the help of the locals, none of it can be done with satisfaction.


(Image source)

As you may see, most international students come from China thus English is not their first language nor a compulsory language to be taught. But these international students chose to take up English and had been learning it for years before they could actually move to Australia. On top of being dedicated and persevering, most international students undergo homesickness, loneliness, isolation and language and financial difficulties in terms of their adjustment and well-being. (Leder & Frogasz, 2004 p. 195)

Moreover, international students have to get their game on with the “Aussie slang.” To be honest, when i first arrived in Sydney, I myself was bewildered with the culture and the slang to be exact. McDonalds into Maccas, tomorrow into tomoz, thongs are slippers and now g-strings and of course fair dinkum are examples of words that are foreign to the international students and will only be able to learn and understand the meaning through communicating with the locals. But studies have shown that somehow the international students felt that most locals aren’t keen to getting to know them.

It is really nerve wrecking and it takes a lot of confident for these international students including myself when i first started communicating and trying to find friends. I believe the best way to improve spoken English is to be interacting with the locals and they should give international students a chance to express themselves and lend a helping hand because unless you’ve been living in a country that is totally alien to you, I suggest we all tolerate and be extra courteous to the international students. As the saying goes, “you know their name, not their story.”



Jenkins, R (1992) Pierre Burdieu, London: Routledge.

Kell, P and Vogl, G “International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes” (2007). University of Wollongong. p.1- 10

Leder G.C & Gorgasz, H.J (2004) Australian and international and mature age students: the daily challenges. Higher education Research and Development 23(2) pp. 184-198

Marginson, S “International Education as Self-Formation” (2012). University of Wollongong. p.51-61


About Vivyan Foo

19 years young. Internet, EDM & Food 🙌
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