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Comparison Of International Students Impressions Of Australia English Language Essay

The aim of this report is to investigate the comparison of international student’s impressions before and after they came to Australia .The specific impressions that are investigated and contrasted are the people, the education method and public transport. . This report is written for agents promoting Deakin University overseas. Who want to find the information about international student’s life. It will help international students to prepare before coming here.

Background

Nowadays there is an overwhelming majority of students who choose Australian for studying and working .Many students think before leaving their home country that Australian is a heaven or they can have happy life with a lot of Australian friends, easy subjects, education methods and perfect public transport .Nevertheless other students think that there are too many Chinese, different education methods, very difficult to make new friends and public transport is very terrible at weekend.

Therefore, this report will mention about real life of overseas students. In addition it can provide for Deakin University overseas students knowledge about new life in new country. They will not have too many surprising things when they come to Australia in the first time. Some students were shocked by the different culture of Australia. (Thomson G, Rosenthal D, Russell J 2006)

This report will be useful agents promoting Deakin University overseas who want to go abroad especially to Australia or study in Deakin University. They can know about comparison of before and after students come to Australia.

This report includes three main sections such as the people, the education methods, and public transport .In each section, this report also has references that help you to understand clearly about the Issue.

2. Method

2.1. Secondary sources

Initially, background information of the topic was found on from a book, such as the “truth about being an international student” from library of Deakin university and the internet, such as the Australian International Education Conference 2006. It provides enough information of the people, the education method and public transport in Australia to do the report and make questionnaire. These ideas were used in this report because they were accessible, reliable, and relevant on this topic.

2.2. Primary sources

∙ Subject

The next stage is a questionnaire of 10 questions related to three main aspects, such as the people, the education method, and public transport .This was written and checked by my teacher .I could compare the expectations international students had of Australia before and after they came. The questionnaires were sent to 20 students in DUELI (GE 4, EAP 1 and EAP 2) and MIBT. They included 10 males and 10 females. 20 respondents were chosen from numerous different countries: 4 Vietnamese, 8 Chinese, 2 Japanese, 2 Singapore students, and 2 Hong Kong students. Also, 80% of respondents were 18-25, 7% were 20-30 years old, and 13% were under 18. This choice isn’t random. The aim of this was to find out the different things from students from different countries and different ages

∙ Questionnaire.

The questionnaire of this report was complete with the help of a lot of people .First of all, we discussed it in class with some EAP 2 students and got their Ideas. Secondly, with these new ideas, everyone made questionnaire in their own words. Next, the questions were checked again by the teacher in EAP 2. Some mistakes were corrected. Finally, the questionnaire was completed.

The questionnaire includes the following types of questions: multiple choice (5), type B likert scale (1), type A likert scale (6), yes/no (1), statement, open. These questions were designed to collect specific answers, so the result would be precise. It didn’t make the respondents confused about the answer and it was easy to answer.

∙ Procedure for administering the questionnaire and collating the results

On 23rd January, 2009, at break time, and lunch time, the questionnaires were given to 20 respondents. Some students answered at home and returned it the next day, some students answered in 6 minutes in their class. Others answered individually. They sat down and answered and then the answers were collated. The results were assembled according to the country and age.

3. Result and Discussion

3.1 How can information about Australia be found?

1

From Newspaper

From agents

From Internet

From friends

From TV

10

25

80

10

5

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Percentage

The way to collect information about Australia

From Newspaper

From agents

From Internet

From friends

From TV

The bar graph illustrates information on the way to collect information about Australia by international students .Each unit is measured as a percentage

From an overall perspective, as can be seen from the chart, the quantity of student collecting information from the internet is the highest. This number is approximately 80%, which is closely followed by collecting information from Friends which accounts for 25%.In contrary, the level of collecting information from TV, from agents and from newspaper are under 20%.Interestingly, the number of Collecting information from TV and from agents are similar, and comprise 10% .Surprisingly, the number of collecting information from newspaper appears by far the lowest. This number is under 10%

This result probably depends on convenience. The level of student collecting information from the internet is the biggest because search technology of computer and internet is very fast and modern .Everybody could find a wide range of information by “click”. Additionally, other people find information from friends because, they have many friends studying at Australia, their friends can give them a lot of experience .This experience is not only about studying but also about their new life in Australia and what a big difference things they had when they come to Australia on the first time .Furthermore, there are not many international students choose finding information from TV or agent because the information they can have from agent is not really correct. The purpose of the agent is helping overseas student, and they can help overseas student understand about where they will study, however they have another purpose is advertising. Advertising campaign, advertising slogan…always appear in agents, so information agents give to student always much better than reality. TV has the same situation with agents or TV is a kind of advertising. There are a few students choose finding information from newspaper because they don’t like reading. They have to spend too much time for reading newspaper but the information found from newspapers is too little and they do not have enough for students.

3.2. Why international student choose Australia for studying

Why international students choose Australia for studying

66%

7%

9%

18%

Perfect education

Methods

Weather

Friendly people

Food

The pie chart represents information about why international students want to study in Australia. Each unit is measured as percentage

Initially, it can be seen that the percentage of student choosing Australia because of perfect education method is the biggest number. This number is 66%.The second biggest number is the quantity of students choosing Australia because of food which accounts for 18%.Surprisingly, the proportion of student choosing Australia for weather and friendly people is less than 10%.Intersetingly ,the number of student choosing Australian because of weather is the lowest ,with only 7%.

It’s easy to explain these reasons. There are 66% who students choose Australia for studying because of perfect education method because Australian has a special system of teaching and some faculties are only found in Australia .Furthermore, in Australia you can discover freedom and develop your ideas, rather than limiting their study to one area of education”. (Australia Government website, 2005).There are 18% of students who choose Australia for food. This number is not too high but not too low because In Australia there are many western foods. However many Asians live in Australia, they bring their cultural and Asian food to Australia so mixing between western foods and Asian foods is very special .Some students like this mixing but other don’t like. There are 7% students choose weather as the reason for studying in Australia .This number is the fewest because many students hate the weather of Australia ,a day of Australia has 4 seasons(Doria C,2005). Numerous students get sick when they came to Australia on the first time because of the difference in weather.

3.3. The comparison of overseas student about public transport between before they come to Australia and their impressions they have after they come to Australia

Before they came to Australia

90%

10%

Good

Bad

After they come to Australia

10%

90%

Good

Bad

The pie charts describe information about the comparison of overseas student about public transport between before they come to Australia and their impressions they have after they come to Australia

Overall, it is clearly from the first chart is that the quantity of student having good expectation about public transport before they go to Australia is the biggest sector. This number is 90%.Whereas, there are just have 10% students who have the opposite expectation. Turning to the second pie chart, we can see that there is a big difference between before and after student coming to Australia. The proportion of students having good impression about public transport after they go to Australia is the smallest sector. This number is 90%.

This result is very easy to understand. Before international students came to Australia, they just can know about public transport from internet and films. They thought that public transport is very fantastic. Nevertheless, after they come to Australia, public transport is not at all. it‘s very difficult to take public transport at weekend. So their good impressions about public transport after they come to Australia account just for having 10%.

3.4. How do international students think about their language skills?

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

Listening

Reading

Speaking

wrtiting

Percentage

Good

Bad

The bar graph reveals information on how do the international students rate their language skills after they go to Australia .Such skills include listening ,reading,speaking,and writing. Each unit measured as a percentage.

Apparently, one of the initial impressions is that the level of students having good writing skill is the highest, with 80%, closely followed by reading skill, this number is over 50%.Interestingly, the proportion of students having good skill is higher than bad skill in both reading and writing skill. The quantity of student having bad skills in reading skill and writing skill is well under 40%.

By contrast, the number of student having bad skill is higher than good skill in both listening skill and speaking skill. These numbers are 60% and 70%, respectively.While, the proportion of student having good skill in listening and speaking is just have 40% and 30%, respectively.

It’s easy to understand these results. The level of student having bad skill in speaking is 70% because they didn’t practice speaking skill any more. In addition, they just use English in class, out of class they often speak their language or language of their hometown, so they could not have good speaking skill if they always practice with non-native speaker, and the level of students having bad skill in listening is 60%.This is one reason for bad speaking skill, student can not have good speaking skill if they don’t listen well. About writing and reading skill, they have to practice everyday, in class and doing homework at home. For example, if someone wants to find references for a report, they must read, and find English language sources only.

4. Conclusion

The purpose of this report was to investigate the expectations international students had of Australia before they came here and compare these with the impressions they have now. Many students come from numerous countries in the world because of a lot of reasons.Nevethesless; the most significant reason is perfect education method .Therefore, some international students are very interested in Australian food. The most students find information about Australia from the internet. This information was found very fast and convenient. The quantity of information about Australia on the internet is very big, so they can prepare for new life in new country. However they still have some problems about education method, Australia has a big difference in education method compared with other countries. The most difficult problem of the students is speaking skill and listening skill. This report is for agents promoting Deakin University overseas, and the writer hopes that they can deal with the student’s problem after they read this report.

5. Recommendations

5.1. How can information about Australia be found?

Some students are very embarrassed; they do not know what they will need. Preparing about knowledge of subjects is not enough. On the other hand, knowledge about life style and culture is very important. Companies and agents always tell something extremely fantastic about Australia .Nevertheless the real life is not perfect, so the agents should give their most essential and true information for students by sending email enclosed with supporting website. They will not be shocked when they come here.

5.2. Why international student choose Australia for studying?

There are numerous students choose Australia for studying. Before they came to Australia, they discovered about new life in here, but sometimes, these informations are not enough. When they came here, they find out something that didn’t like their finding. Education method of Australia is very perfect; nevertheless the weather of Australia is extremely annoying for with many students. There are a lot of students want to study in Australia because of perfect education method, but they studied in Australia in 6 months and move to another country because they hate the weather of Australia . So a good advice for the agents is confirming the reason of show them what is different thing by meeting some group students who will come to Australia and talking about different things .So that overseas student can have fantastic preparation.

5.3. The comparison of overseas student responses about public transport between before they come to Australia and their impressions they have after they come to Australia.

From the result, a wide range of students are disappointed about public transport in Australia. So the agents should give them some map of city they will come to. They can know the time table of trains, trams and buses and they can know the shortest way. In addition, the agents can advise them that they should use website nationalpublictransport.com.au before they want to go to anywhere in Australia.

5.4. How do international students think about their language skills?

Overall, many overseas students are worried about their English skill because using a second language is not easy.However, it is not difficult to improve their skill, especially is their listening skill and speaking skill. The agents can introduce them to some clubs, where they can meet and communicate with native speakers. Furthermore the agents can give them some programs to practice their listening skills, and speaking skills before they came to Australia. It’s not easy, but not really difficult and their English skill will be improved slowly more and more.

Appendix 1 (Questionnaire)

Name:……………………………………..

Class:……………………………………...

Gender:……………………………………

Country:…………………………………..

Age:……………………………………….

Topic 10

Investigation of the expectations the international students had of Australia before they came here and compare these with the impressions they have now.

1. a) Did you think your life in Australia would be happy?

Yes No

b) Is it happy now?

 yes  No

2.) Is the weather in Australia the same as what you expected?

 Yes  No

3a) What did you think about Australian food before you come to Australia?

Please indicate your opinion on following scale

Awful 1 2 3 4 5 excellent

b) What do you think about it now?

Awful 1 2 3 4 5 excellent

4a) In your home country did you expect you could easily take public transport in Australia?

 Yes  No

b) How did you rate Australia public transport?

Good Bad Fantastic  No opinion  Terrible

5) Now do you feel that you can easily take public transport?

 Yes  No

6) Before you came to Australia, did you expect that you would see a kangaroo in the first week?

 Yes  No

7) Have you seen a kangaroo yet?

 Yes  No

8) How did you feed about the education method of Australia?

 Awful  Bad  Good  Fantastic

9) How friendly did you think Australia would be?

10) When you speak to Australian people what is the most usual response?

(a) They listen carefully and answer clearly

(b) They say they can not understand you

(c) They do not know but they ask another person to come and help

(d) They ignore you

11. a) What do you think about your listening skill?

□ Good □ bad

b) What do you think about your speaking skill?

□ Good □ bad

c) What do you think about your reading skill?

□ Good □bad

d) What do you think about your witting skill?

□ Good □bad

12. How could you Find information about Australia?

□ From newspapers □ from internet

□ From TV □ from friends

□ From agents □ other

Appendix 2 (Copies of Original Text Referenced)

CULTURAL STRESS AMONG INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

AT AN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY

Garry Thomson

Academic Services (Health, Counselling and Disability Services)

The University of Melbourne, Australia

Doreen Rosenthal

Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society

School of population Health

The University of Melbourne, Australia,

and

Jean Russell

Centre for Post-Compulsory Education and Life-Long Learning

The University of Melbourne, Australia

2

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

Cultural stress among international students at an Australian university

Abstract

A representative sample of undergraduate and postgraduate international students at a large

Australian university (n=979, 64% females) completed a mail-back survey examining their

perceptions of cultural stress and the relationships between cultural stress and social

connectedness, mental health, and lifestyle balance. Most students reported at least some

degree of cultural stress especially for items relating to family and a familiar way of life. Issues of

discrimination, discomfort and feelings of lack of safety were less commonly reported as

stressful. Cultural stress is related to students’ cultural background, their communication skills in

the new culture and their evaluation of their perceived academic progress. Cultural stress is

negatively related to social connectedness and lifestyle balance but positively related to

depression, anxiety and stress. Our findings suggest that there are several entry points for

programs designed to assist international students adapt to their new cultural setting.

3

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

Cultural stress among international students at an Australian university

There are many complex challenges facing students travelling to other countries to undertake

university or other educational courses, particularly if their home country culture is strikingly

different from the host country culture. It is not surprising that the physical and psychological

well-being of students, as well as their academic performance, can be affected by these

adjustment challenges (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001). These relatively short-term visitors to

a new culture (or sojourners), who come for purposes other than permanent settlement, are

likely to experience ‘culture shock’ (Oberg, 1960) resulting from the sudden loss of all familiar

signs and symbols of everyday life, with consequent psychological stress and use of coping

strategies to deal with the stresses encountered.

Factors that influence sojourners’ adjustment to the host culture include background

variables such as the difference between the culture of origin and host culture, language

proficiency, gender, age, education level, status, self-esteem, and prior cross-cultural

experience. In addition, there are situational variables such as length of stay, the information

and support provided, social interaction with host nationals, networking with co-culturals,

academic or professional performance and physical health. Length of stay is an important

dimension in the process of adjustment for sojourners such as international students, with

discomfort usually reducing as the new culture becomes more familiar (Adler, 1975; Ward,

Okura, Kennedy & Kojima, 1998; Ward & Rana-Dueba, 1999).

Another variable held to be of particular importance to the process of adjustment is the

cultural distance between the sojourner’s culture of origin and the host culture (Ward et al.,

2001), with greater distance implying more difficulty in adjustment. Several cultural classification

systems have been proposed, with component categories being based on perceived underlying

characteristics of cultural values, beliefs and behaviours. The best known of these is the set of

dimensions delineated by Hofstede (1997). Australian and Asian cultures tend to fall at opposite

ends of each of these dimensions, with particularly strong differentiation being found on an

individualism/collectivism dimension. This cultural dimension has been used to explain some of

the difficulties Asian international students have experienced in their approaches to learning in

Australia (Faculty of Education and Asialink, 2004). Ward (1997; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 1999)

argues that cultural distance, together with language competence, length of stay in the new

culture, and the amount of contact with host nationals, typically influences sociocultural

adaptation.

The degree of social interaction that the sojourner establishes within the host country is

also considered an important variable in adjustment, with stronger social interaction being seen

as conducive to a more positive process of adaptation (Church, 1982). While achieving a

satisfying level of social interaction with host nationals is undoubtedly a challenging process, it

does provide international students with the opportunity for developing an understanding of and

adaptation to the new culture (Li & Gasser, 2005). The level of social interaction between

sojourners and host nationals has generally been found to be low, with sojourners wanting to

have more interaction with locals than they experience (Church, 1982; James & Devlin, 2001;

Daroesman, Looi, & Butler, 2005; Rosenthal, Russell, & Thomson, 2006). Berry (1997) argues

that sojourners who adopt an integrative acculturation strategy, valuing both the original and the

new cultures and maintaining relations with both groups, will experience a low level of

adjustment stress. On the other hand, those who maintain a relationship with their own culture

only - who do not value or relate to the new, keeping themselves separate from it - will

experience high levels of acculturation stress.

4

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

In the present study, we investigate perceptions of cultural stress among international

students at a large Australian university, the impact of demographic and situational variables

such as length of stay and cultural distance between home and host country, and the

relationships between stress and connectedness to the host culture.

METHOD

Sample

The sample was drawn from international students with confirmed enrolments in undergraduate

or postgraduate courses at an Australian university in early March 2005. Study Abroad students

and students without an Australian address were excluded from the prospective sample, leaving

a pool of 6,828 students. Every third student was selected from an alphabetical listing resulting

in a sample size of 2,276. An achieved sample of 979 was obtained, representing a response

rate of 43.9 percent, taking return-to-sender items into account.

The achieved sample characteristics were closely aligned with those of the university's

international student population, with the exception of gender. Two-thirds (64 percent) of the

sample were female compared with 57.3 percent in the population of international students. The

majority (57 percent) of students in the sample were 20 to 24 years and 70.8 percent were

engaged in coursework or research postgraduate study. The number of years of enrolment in

the sample ranged from 1 to 9, with 82.6 per cent having been enrolled between 1 and 3 years

and 99.2 per cent between 1 and 6 years. All faculties were represented, with the greatest

number of students enrolled in Economics/Commerce (26 percent) and Engineering (16

percent). Countries of origin covered a wide range of, with Asian countries the most commonly

reported. Of these, China and Malaysia had the highest number of students (both 23 percent of

the sample).

Survey questionnaire

Measures of cultural stress and connectedness were drawn from relevant literature concerning

sojourners, especially international students, cultural stress, and social connectedness (e.g.,

Church, 1982; McInnes, Griffin, James & Coates, 2001; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Ward &

Kennedy, 1999). Recommendations from an Advisory Group were used to refine the

questionnaire and some additional modifications were made as a result of piloting the

questionnaire with a small number (n=13) of international students, both male and female,

ranging in age, faculty and course type. The questionnaire also covered demographic

information and health and well-being.

Cultural stress was assessed by eight items measuring students’ perceptions of

difficulties associated with living away from home (see Table 1 for a list of items). Experiences

of cultural stress were rated on a 4-point scale from 0 (not at all) to 3 (very much).

The short form of Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS), developed by

Lovibond and Lovibond (1995) was included in the questionnaire. For each scale, respondents

rated how each of seven statements applied to them over the past week on a four-point scale

from 0 (not at all) to 3 (very much or most of the time). Lovibond and Lovibond reported

satisfactory alpha values for a normal (i.e. non-clinical) Australian sample (Depression: 0.81,

Anxiety: 0.73; Stress: 0.81).

5

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

Students’ perceived Lifestyle balance was assessed by the following questions: ‘I think

the balance between studying and other activities in my life is about right’ (study balance); ‘I

think the balance between the time I spend with others and the time I spend alone is about right’

(social balance). In addition, we assessed students’ perceptions of social connectedness in

Melbourne (Rosenthal et al., 2006). The Connectedness in Melbourne scale comprised three

items relating to participants’ belief that personal and emotional support was available to them in

Melbourne: ‘There are people here in Melbourne I can ask for help if I needed it’; ‘There are

people here in Melbourne who care about me’; ‘There are people here in Melbourne I can talk to

about my problems’. Responses to all these questions were rated on a 4-point scale from 0 (not

at all) to 3 (very much).

Demographic and situational information was obtained about the following: age, gender,

marital status, course type, faculty, year of course, perceived academic progress, length of

enrolment, studies in Australia prior to enrolment, country of origin, and English language use

and use of a language other than English (LOTE).

PROCEDURE

Following approval of the research project by the university's Human Research Ethics

Committee, the questionnaire was mailed to the student sample and 705 completed

questionnaires were returned. A second mailing of the questionnaire resulted in an additional

274 completed responses. Because questionnaire responses were anonymous the second

mailing was sent to all students in the sample. A warning slip was included in the second

mailing, to indicate that the questionnaire was intended only for students who had not replied to

the first mailing.

RESULTS

Items

Not at all Some

degree

Considerabl

e degree

Very much

I miss the familiar way of life in my

own country.

9.9 39.7 26.6 23.8

It’s hard being away from the people I

love.

15.0 34.2 27.9 22.8

It is lonely for me here in Melbourne. 29.7 38.1 21.0 11.3

I feel less important here than at

home.

27.1 32.0 26.5 14.4

People treat me differently because

of my cultural background.

36.0 40.9 17.1 6.0

I feel uncomfortable in the Australian

culture.

42.4 41.9 13.1 2.6

I don’t feel safe here in Melbourne. 52.7 37.2 8.0 2.1

I feel I really belong here at the

university.*

11.2 35.7 42.0 11.1

* reversed item

Table 1: Students’ experience of cultural stress in Melbourne (responses in percentages)

6

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

Responses to the eight items assessing students’ feelings of dislocation, strangeness and

discomfort living within the Australian culture in Melbourne are shown in Table 1. Most students

reported at least some degree of stress for all items. Not unexpectedly, two of the items

indicating highest levels of stress describe missing a familiar way of life and loved ones. The

cultural stress items that produce the least concern in students are ones that might be thought

more typical of culture shock – discrimination, discomfort and feelings of lack of safety. Safety,

in particular, is not seen as an issue. Almost all students indicate that they have little or no

concern at all about safety in Melbourne.

The eight items were combined to form a Cultural Stress scale. The scale had

satisfactory internal reliability (alpha = .75). There were few significant demographic and

situational variable effects. Students who feel their academic progress is not as strong as

expected experience a significantly higher level of cultural stress than those who believe they

are doing better or as well as expected (F[2, 944] = 13.10, p<.001). There is a significant main

effect for country. Students from English-speaking countries (UK, USA and Canada) and from

Europe are significantly less culturally stressed than students from Asian and African countries

(F[13,925] = 3.11, p<.001). Cultural stress is greater for students who did not speak any English

when growing up (t = 2.74, p<.01) and students who speak a LOTE when off the campus (t =

5.99, p<.001). No significant differences were found on the basis of age, gender, partnered

status, faculty, course type, or number of years enrolled at the university.

There was a strong, significant negative relationship between the Connectedness in

Melbourne and Cultural Stress scales (r = -.39, p<.001). The stronger the students’ perception

that they have care and support in Melbourne, the lower the level of cultural stress they

experience. Lifestyle balance, regarding both study and social activities, was negatively related

to Cultural Stress (r = -.15 and -.23 respectively, p<.001 for both items).

Strong, significant positive correlations were found between the Cultural Stress and the

three DASS scales, indicating that the stronger the student’s experience of cultural stress in

Melbourne, the higher the level of depression, anxiety and stress (r =.46; r =.40; r =.44 for

Depression, Anxiety and Stress respectively, p<.001 for all correlations).

DISCUSSION

Cultural stress is an obvious challenge to the well-being of international students, particularly

where the home and host countries are culturally distant. These international students provide

evidence of feelings of discomfort, dislocation and distress but their responses are, for the most

part, not at an extreme level. It is also important to distinguish between aspects that are inherent

in living away from home in a foreign country and those aspects where cultural stress might

reasonably be ameliorated by local action. The distress and homesickness that is experienced

through missing family, friends and the familiar things of home when in another country is to be

expected. This was a key aspect of cultural stress experienced by about half the students.

In most other areas, students’ perceptions are more positive, particularly in areas usually

associated with discrimination and prejudice, including threats to their safety. Nevertheless a

substantial minority of students experience distress in these areas and, as well, are concerned

about their loneliness and feelings of relative unimportance here. These perceptions are

strongly related to students’ feelings of lack of connectedness in Melbourne, further reinforcing

the value of helping to develop stronger coping strategies that result in networking, friendship

and support for international students.

7

Australian International Education Conference 2006 – www.idp.com/aiec

Apart from homesickness, the aspect of cultural stress that provokes the strongest

reaction from students in the present study concerns the feeling of belonging at the university.

About half the students report feeling they do not belong, to a considerable or great degree.

Students from Asian countries report these feelings significantly more often than other students.

This suggests, again, the need for universities and other educational institutions targeting

international students to act to increase feelings of connectedness to those institutions.

There were few demographic and situational variables that significantly predicted cultural

stress. Using a LOTE off campus, poorer than expected academic performance and coming

from an Asian or African country were each associated with higher levels of cultural stress. The

first of these may well be an indicator of cultural difference, something that would be expected to

be linked with cultural stress. It is not surprising that cultural stress is related to perceived

academic progress, although we cannot establish a causal relationship in this cross-sectional

study.

Cultural stress is a dimension of well-being that is fundamental to the experience of

relating to others in society and is likely to be associated with students’ well-being in a number of

domains. This is, in fact, the case. The relationships between cultural stress and measures of

mental health (depression, anxiety and stress) and study and social lifestyle balance suggests

that there is a constellation of negative psychosocial consequences for international students

which may seriously interfere with their adaptation to the host country and to their capacity to

achieve optimally in the university setting. Not unexpectedly, there was a strong negative

correlation between cultural stress and connectedness in Melbourne indicating a close inverse

relationship between these two aspects of adaptation. The more connected students feel in

Melbourne, the less cultural stress they experience.

While we cannot determine causal pathways from this cross-sectional study, our findings

suggest that there are several entry points for programs designed to assist international students

adapt to their new cultural setting. Reducing cultural stress and enhancing connectedness to

the home country are good places to start.

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