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People normally imagine about appearance, characteristic and behavior of person when people talk about the word “Identity”. Apparently, the word “Identity” is connected to personal identity which is being a person. In fact, “Identity” itself has a meaning that “Identity may be defined as the distinctive character belonging to any given individual, or shared by all members of a particular social category or group”( Rummens, 1993). In other word, every person is unique because of identification. As a student may be identified to several aspects where the student come from, what is the student studying in, even what gender the student be. However, the identity can be changed if people consider about it with other aspects or perspectives. This essay will outline how culture and gender impact on international students’ identity.
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First of all, “Identity” is about identification of people such as female or male, nationality, religion, role and other things. In fact, “People are not born with an identity. Rather, identity is something that evolves over time” (Mark Dombeck and Jolyn Wells-Moran, 2006, 22). This means identity is formed itself when the time passed. Similar to self-concept, comprises individual’s perception which come from individual’s experiences and “interpretation” of the environment (Zahra,A. , Arif, M., & Yousuf, M, 2010). Basically, identity and self-concept of a person is built from the person’s beliefs and ideas which include himself or herself experiences. For instance, in general, adults have more understanding of their parent rather than teenagers. As a result of adults tend to be more sensible than teenagers and adults also have more experience than teenagers. These influences make adults have different point of view from teenagers. In this way, it can be said that people’s experiences affect on their identity and lead to change their identity. Therefore, the changing of identity takes a period of time to be effect. Indeed, people normally learn from their experiences and build on their knowledge. This process is forming individual’s belief. As Mark Dombeck and Jolyn Wells-Moran (2006, 109) discusses that people’s identity will be changed when the people change their beliefs by using “cognitive technique” to make changing of themselves beliefs. Regarding to this statement, international students’ identity will probably change more or less because they have to adopt new culture.
Secondly, culture is the important factor that impacts on people’s identity especially international students as a result of living in different culture from their own. In the last decade, there has had large number of international students study in Australia. One of the several reasons that Australia is their destination might be Australia represents multi-culture. As Nicola Henry (2009, 1) said that there has had large number of immigrant in Australia after the World War II, Australia then became a “Multicultural society”. Although the international students experience in multicultural society, it doesn’t mean that they won’t face any issue. In contrast, the multicultural society affects the international students to have difficulties as a result of adopting new environment and surroundings such as differences in education system and adopting lifestyle. Firstly, different education system or teaching styles make international students to have more difficulty rather than differences in culture (Godwin, 2009, 1). Consequently, international students have been taught in different methods from their own countries. This puts a lot of pressure on the students because they must work as much as they can if they want to achieve in their study. For example, in western learning style, the relationship between students and lecturers seem to be close. In comparison, lecturers tend to keep distance between them and students in order to avoid the students to less respect them. There is another example to extent this point, in Thai culture, teachers are second parents because they give the students knowledge. This means Thai students respect their teachers as equal as their parents. Not only that, the international students have to adopt new teaching style which mean the students have to do research or study from other sources instead of obtaining knowledge only from their lecturers or teachers. “Maintain that according to a Western view, learning encompasses a number of skills such as the ability to use abstract frameworks, meta-cognition, independence and self-monitoring, creativity and a critical approach” (Scherto Gill in Cortazzi and Jin , 1997, 6). Thus, these may affect on the students’ identity of being students. It has meaning that the students might be more talk-active and be able to express their opinion while they’re studying in Australia as a result of academic teaching style in Australia allows them to do such things. Regarding to Scherto Gill (2007, 11) discussed that “self-identity” is affected by speaking second language. Not only that, the students managed to acknowledge new learning style which they can apply to other things. Secondly, settlement in new environment requires the international students to learn many things such as staying with other people, collaboration with other people and other things. These can be great experiences for the students in order to they have opportunity to deal with people from different culture. The students probably acknowledge about how to cope with other people from different culture which is very useful for the students in their future. In fact, they might gain their responsibilities in order to they are sharing with their housemates. In addition, their identity might be changed because they considerate about their housemates by doing housework, and keeping their house clean that they probably have not done when they stay with their family. By contrast, the students might have difficulties in communication with other people and confliction between each other. Language barrier can be one factor of misunderstanding between each other. “One participant in the current study suggested that her accent may act as a barrier in communicating with students and believed that some students would not be able to understand her” (Spooner-Lane, Tangen and Campbell, 2009, 6). Thus, the students are supposed to cope with the situations which might be effect on their identity of handling such problems.
Lastly, there is another factor that impacts on identity and gender plays this role. Gender is a separation of human into two groups as male and female. According to Ruth A. Wienclaw, Ph.D. (2009) says that “gender is divided by one’s gender identity or the recognition that one is either male or female based on both biological and psychosocial considerations, and the internalization of this gender concept into one’s self-identity”. Regarding to this state, it means there are two factors can divide human which are sexual and cultural. Sexual on one hand, it is obvious that male and female have difference in physical. For example, differences in functionalities of organs and shape between female and male. In other words, some organs are used in male but not in female and some used in female but not in male. Not only that, they also tend to have different mentality. For instance, male normally views a large picture in contrast female tends to view more detail. In fact, in general, men have stronger in physical than women. Therefore, male is supposed to take care of female. This may lead to unequal between both male and female in some societies. However, in Australia, female has right as equal as male do. Equality in job opportunity in Australia between men and women can illustrate the point. In addition, there is a law to protect women’s right as well. Culture on the other hand, men are the one who lead the family while women are supposed to look after their children and house is a gender stereotype. According to Ruth A. Wienclaw, Ph.D. (2009) states that “the traditional gender stereotype might be that women stay home and clean the house and raise the family while men go out and work”. This stereotype has heritage to next generation. It then became an idea of family’s role. Not only that, gender and social role are affected by the stereotype. As a result of inheritance in the idea that men are the leader, women seem to be follower which has created inequality between men and women. In addition, “Throughtout time, different cultures have conceived of gender in various ways, providing evidence that gender is not biologically, but rather than socially defined” (Noelle in Boswell and Lorber , 2003, 1). Nevertheless, experiencing in different country of the international students is able to influence the student to have new opinions and beliefs which are different from they have been taught when they were in their hometown. Differences in gender’s role between Australia and their home country illustrate the point. In other word, the international students probably have alternative vision about gender stereotype such as women earn money while men stay home do housework which turn their idea around. In addition, women in Australia examine that they don’t have to rely on men as some culture. Because of the current tendency for nuclear rather than extended families, divorced women are more likely to set up their own households rather than move back in with their parents and single teenage mothers are more likely to set up their own households rather than to continue to live with their parents (Ruth A. in Pressman, 198, 38).
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In conclusion, every person can be identified to varied role depends on the person’s role at certain time and place, and particular perception which are influenced by culture and gender. As an international student, the student will be identified as foreign student, who is non-English speaking, studying at Queensland University of Technology, working as part-time, a housemate and classmate, while the student studies in Australia. In comparison, the student’s parents identify the student as their child who will be expected to be family’s leader after the student graduated from the university. However, people’s beliefs won’t be changed although their identity may be changed by such things.
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