International students make up a significant proportion of the university cohort in Australia, with more than 640,000 currently studying. With the top 10 feeder countries including China, Indian Vietnam, Korea and Thailand, there is a melting pot of cultures present at any given university campus around the country.
From language barriers to religion and cultural differences, there is plenty to take into consideration when interacting with an international student. To avoid any kind of confusion, we’ve produced a few tips on how to boost your intercultural competence.
Break down the language barrier
It can be difficult for international students to adjust to life at an Australian university, especially if they aren’t fluent in English. Solving this dilemma can be as simple as speaking more slowly or by simplifying what you say to get the point across in a more succinct manner. Even competent English speakers from overseas may struggle when it comes to local slang. Bonza mate!
Respect religious beliefs
People from different religious backgrounds will have different customs and traditions. You might encounter a fellow student in the middle of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. Being considerate towards people and their cultural practices is a valuable skill at university, in the workforce and throughout life in general.
Be culturally aware
Some actions can have distinct connotations depending on where they are occurring. A suitable handshake in Australia would ordinarily be firm and reasonably brief, but this differs in other locations around the globe. Firm grips are considered rude in Turkey, Russians will not shake the hand of the opposite sex unless it is a business situation and in Thailand, they prefer not to indulge the practice at all!