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24 January 2007

Liz

Last week on English Bites we met some people who attended a party for International students who had graduated from their courses. While we were there we talked to Liz, a teacher who works very closely with these students.


My Name is Liz Stinson and I'm the Deputy Director of UniSA International. We're the international office in the University, the University of South Australia, here in Adelaide, and our role is to both encourage and recruit students to come and study in Adelaide at UniSA, but also we do a lot of work around international quality frameworks and student mobility programs and support international activity throughout the university.

There's lots. I mean, I'm sure - I know, as someone who's come from another country myself, there's lots of personal development and personal growth. You move outside your family sphere, you move outside your cultural comfort zone, as the Governor just said, and you expose yourself to other cultures and in this case, to students from other cultures as well.

But in studying in another country, for example, students coming to Australia, they learn a lot about Australia. All of our programs in many of the institutions now talk about other cultures quite a bit but because we're in Australia there's obviously an Australian focus. And out of that sort of thing I know comes the capacity to build relationships across cultures. You learn how to talk to people from other cultures. If you've never met anyone from China before it's a fantastic chance to meet someone from China, find out about China, learn a little Mandarin and, ideally, potentially make some friends as well.

What do students find the hardest about this kind of experience?

I think when they first arrive - and this can take fully six months of their first year here, this is our experience - they certainly feel a sense of homesickness sometimes. They can be a bit lonely. Many times students from one country will make friends in Orientation Week with friends from the same country, because they have language familiarity and so on.

So, that's the beginning. What we hear from students after they've gone home or toward the end of the study is that they wish they had made more Australian friends and that's often because, for instance if you're here from China or from India, you might make your friends with Chinese students and Indian students first, but really what you want to do in another country is get to know folks from the other country.

So, at our university for instance, we've now established what we call a host.. well, not a host family scheme, but a sort of a buddy scheme, where we're actually linking staff from the university with students, international students, and they get together, they invite them into their homes, they get together for picnics and barbecues and so on.

So, I think anything that an institution in another country can do to forge relationships between the visiting students and, in this case, the Australian students, just works wonders.


story notes

 encourage
 
To encourage means to give someone confidence and make them more likely to do something.

 recruit
 
To recruit means to persuade someone to join or become a member of a group.

 personal development
 
Personal development means growing and changing as a person. It means to learn new things and become stronger and more mature.

 sphere
 
Here, Liz is using the word sphere to talk about an aspect or area of a person’s life.
 
To move outside your family sphere’is to move away from the safety of your family and meet new people.

 cultural comfort zone
 
Your comfort zone is an environment or situation in which you feel comfortable and secure. So your cultural comfort zone is the culture in which you feel safe and comfortable

 met
 
Here met is the past participle of the irregular verb meet. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: meet

 homesickness
 
To be homesick means to be missing home - to be unhappy because of you are away from home. The noun is homesickness.
 
Example: I suffered from homesickness on my travels overseas.

 Orientation Week
 
Orientation Week is the time when students are shown around the university. They are given a tour and introduced to other students. Orientation week is often shortened to ‘O week’.

 gone
 
Gone is the past participle of the irregular verb go. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
 
more information: go

 buddy scheme
 
A scheme is a plan. And a buddy is a friend. So a buddy scheme introduces staff and students. They are paired up as ‘buddies’ so that the student has someone they know and are comfortable with.

 get together
 
To get together is to meet.
 
Example: Let's get together next weekend.
 
For more meanings of the phrasal verb get together, follow the link below to our language library.
 
more information: get together