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Five challenges international students face and how to overcome them

Nearly 300,000 international students are enrolled at Australian universities, making up 24.3 per cent of the total. While this is a significant proportion, students from overseas are still outnumbered three to one and as a minority, may find it difficult adjusting to some aspects of Australian life.

Whether social, academic or emotional, there are various issues that may affect an international student but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to overcome these problems.

Language difficulties

It isn’t uncommon for foreign students to struggle with coursework because English is not their native language. This can make it tough not only to take advantage of lectures and tutorials but to participate in general small talk.

Universities in Australia tend to be well-serviced when it comes to language support programs and there is also ample opportunity to improve your English by merely interacting with members of the local community.

Making friends

The first day of university is daunting enough for anyone, let alone if you are from another country. However, it is worth remembering that while you might be outnumbered by local students, they will all be feeling just as nervous.

Simply saying hello to the person next to you might not seem like a big deal but it is likely they will appreciate the gesture and reciprocate. Joining a sporting club or student society is another great way to socialise.

Different cultural norms

All cultures are different and adjusting to a new environment can be confronting. Australian slang is often difficult to interpret, with terms like “ta” (thank you) and “lingo” (language or terminology) tending to puzzle newcomers.

While a firm handshake is common practice around Australia, someone from Thailand would be used to placing their hands together and bowing. Asking locals about social norms or doing some research on the internet can both yield helpful information.


It is natural to miss home and when that place is across the other side of the world, it’s hardly surprising. While many international students move to Australia with their family, they are still leaving their comfort zone and the adjustment can be tricky.

Most universities have groups or clubs dedicated to students from specific countries, which can be an excellent way of alleviating feelings of isolation or loneliness. Embracing different aspects of life in Australia is a great remedy too.

Keeping up

Even after you’ve conquered all the social aspects associated with moving overseas, there is the academic side of things. It can be easy to fall behind, especially if you have plenty going on outside of the classroom.

Help is available in various formats, ranging from additional tutoring and study groups to managing your time outside of university more efficiently. If this doesn’t seem to be working, speak with your lecturer or tutor about how best to proceed.

Source : Studies in Australia

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