In my short time I have been at university, I have already met well over a hundred foreign students, which is absolutely mind boggling for me (I’m from a tiny town where nobody has left NSW let alone Australia). So when in discussion with foreign students I take it upon myself to learn the largest differences and difficulties a student exchange student encounters whilst visit our native land. So far the most common (and definitely understandable) differences have been the following:

Laid Back Nature/ Larrikins-

We are pretty chilled out, what can I say? Not all Australian Uni students are of course, but when stepping back and taking in a general “vibe”, it is understandable that we are viewed as quite a relaxed bunch of adolescents. And when a foreign exchange student whose culture (or family) is not so ‘easy going’ comes to visit, they may find it hard to relate to students that are just not as uptight.

Drinking Culture- 

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This gif pretty much says it all. Across the globe we are known for our ability to drink copious amounts of beer and it is known that we love a good party (and BBQ). International students may find it difficult to participate and/or understand our inclination to party, whether it be due to cultural or religious beliefs, or just not being able to afford it (because lets be honest, travelling is expensive).

Last but most definitely not least .. Slang-

Our Aussie lingo seems to be developing further and further, which unfortunately makes it almost impossible to understand for people who have learnt english as a second language. Heck, sometimes I can’t even understand what we are saying! With our words being abbreviated and our thick Aussie accents, it would be extremely difficult for international students to understand what we are saying if they have learnt the proper English pronunciation of words. “How are you going” has practically turned into a two syllable word, and not to mention that we shorten practically everything including servo, arvo, barbie, bottle-o, esky, and my personal favourite, chook.

You would think that considering International education is Australia’s third/fourth largest export industry (Marginson, 2012) we would try to provide an extraordinary experience for our international students that would lead to a positive reputation amongst travelling learners. And of course, there are international students that have a brilliant time and recommend the “Land Down Under” to all of their friends, but unfortunately there are a disturbing large amount of complaints and bad reviews of people that have had a below average time. There are many components contributing to this problem, but one that I found most prevalent is the large portion of Australian Students that view International students (and particularly Asian students) as an a homogenous group (Kell & Vogl, 2007), which has lead to the exclusion of these students when it comes to social and cultural experience.


Kell, P & Vogl G 2006, ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, pp.40-49.

Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, International Education as Self Formation, pp.1-11.