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Of the fifteen participants, seven are female and eight are male. Two students are below fourteen years old, which are the youngest Vietnamese students in Indooroopilly School. Three students are fifteen years old. Most of the participants are sixteen, seventeen and higher. Like most Asian students, Vietnamese students come here usually when they are fourteen or higher as they already finished the secondary school in Vietnam. It helps students to get basic knowledge and skills for them to listen and understand in class especially with Science subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology or even Maths. Other subjects such like Accounting and Economics, we do not study in our country until university. One of participant came here since he was nine. Because he came here so early, he has been able to improve his English by using it every day. However, another, who turns eighteen soon has just came here, so his English might be not good but his knowledge about Maths and other subjects might be better than first one because he had more time to study in Vietnam.
For question "How long have you been here in Australia?" there are four students answered less than a year. Approximately 75% of my friends have lived here more than one year and all of them live with their family. One hundred percent of them speak two languages. Only two of my friends live in a homestay situation. These answers show that most Vietnamese students study here are living with family. Therefore, they might not have the chance to practice English, as they would live in a homestay family.
The second part which I focused on the main question of Did you have any challenges when you were arrived here? I had four choices which are Using English in communication with teachers and friends; Difficulty to make friends; Different culture (in food, how people treat to each other, etc), Home sick and four English languages skills problems which are Writing, Reading, Speaking and Listening. There is also one line for other challenges. Participants could tick more than one if they had more than one challenge. As a result, fifteen out of fifteen people said that they had at least one problem when they were arrived in Brisbane.
Mostly they had problem in using English in communication with teachers and friends (twelve of fifteen). Communication is at the core of all social interaction. For some children and teenagers, acquiring the ability to communicate is a difficult and ongoing challenge. That leads to the answer that at first, students get confuses and feels un-confident when they speak English so they don't want to speak anymore. Therefore, it makes the teacher harder to know whether they understand the lessons or not.
Most Vietnamese students had problems with used to the new culture. As a result of the survey, ten out of fifteen participants said they had challenges to suit with the Australian culture. Culture is a way of life that is shared by the majority of the members of a specific group. It includes the physical environment as well as the ideology, belief and values. The visible signs of culture are include behaviour, language, customs, traditions with visible cultural products such as food, clothing, art and music. (Pollock & Van Reken, 2011). When entering a new culture, students need to learn a new base of values and traditions that may in fact opposite with their own. (Mohanty, 1994).
An interesting point is that nearly all of the female students miss their own home country (six out of seven). So, what is homesickness? The Oxford English Dictionary describes homesickness as a feeling one has when missing home, and especially common in teenagers. Homesickness is especially common in youth. Studying abroad is often seen as an exciting time. However, it can also be a challenging time for international students. Feeling homesick can involve a sense of loneliness, sadness, confusion, fear, and worried with thoughts about home. People experience homesickness may feel stressed about many things and isolated. They may not enjoy the new country experience and they may want to return home. Some research has found that the first few days or weeks are the most difficult time.
There are many tips for self-help. It is helpful to keep in regular contact with the people at home by phone or email. Plan for times when you can return home for a holiday. One of the best way is develop friendships with other students that speak the same language who are may be facing similar challenges.
Change is one of the biggest concepts facing today's society. We are all confronted by how fast the world is changing, how we must change to keep up. Personal change happens through a journey of discovery. Students need to find out more about themselves; how they have been limiting their choices, how they have created their current situation for themselves. Along the way, they will find out a lot more about life and about how they can be in charge of their own.
Personal change is difficult. It takes time and effort. For example, to become strong and fit, you would not expect to run only a single two-kilometre run. You would start slowly, and performing a number of different exercises and routines over a long period. For an international student, personal change also takes time. However, change is need when students change from one to another culture, another environment, another way of how to teach, how to learn and how to treat other people. Therefore, fifteen out of my fifteen participates answered Personal change is good when it is fit with the new environment.
In conclusion, I would like to say that by accepting to study abroad, not only Vietnamese students but all International students have to accept that they have to face of many challenges. To get through those, there are many ways. However, you need to find the shortest way. Thank you for your attention!