Studying abroad is identified by many people as immersing yourself and learning within another country. This enables you to experience a different culture, although it might not be as drastic as an American individual competing in an iconic Japanese Game Show “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”, it broadly identifies struggles and cultural differences associated with international exchange.
Those individuals that are blessed with the opportunity of studying abroad, hold many attributes that enable their competence in managing a cultural change. These include flexibility, critical thinking, reflexivity, empathy, understanding divergent points of view, coping with uncertainty and cultural negotiation (Marginson, 2012). Although these characteristics may aid an international student it doesn’t ensure that “international education is the rich intercultural experience it could be” (Marginson, 2012). Many people agree and disagree with this comment based upon their personal experiences and beliefs.
For those that agree, why would it not be the rich intercultural experience it could be? Language barriers? Financial problems? Customs/Traditional differences? Or it could be that a local student doesn’t see the benefits in making a relationship with an international student based upon the short period of time the student is here for, what are the reimbursements we ask? what do local students gain from this communication? FRIENDSHIP is one of the greatest accomplishments and rewarding experiences a local student or any individual can have with an international human being. Kazuhiro and Keith (2010) highlight that for intercultural friendship to form between Australian and Japanese students four factors are of most importance. These include “frequent contact, similarity of personal characteristics and age, self-disclosure and receptivity of other nationals” p67.
However, the fact that international education may not be the rich intercultural experience it could be is not solely based on the response from the local students, there should be two-way communication amongst the local and international students. Ethnocentrism and Parochialism are two of the reason that international students may exclude themselves from mixing within another culture. Ethnocentrism is the “belief of superiority in one’s personal ethnic group, but it can also develop from racial or religious differences” (Your Dictionary, 2013). Parochial is “confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish : limited in range or scope” (Merriam-Webster Online). Not only can these issues effect intercultural relationships but “Can Be The Greatest Threat to World” (UK Telegraph, 2012). http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielknowles/100126755/parochialism-is-the-greatest-threat-to-the-world-in-2012-but-if-we-cheer-up-we-might-avoid-it/Can you survive international exchange?
CAN YOU SURVIVE INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE? Do the positives outweigh the negatives!? Personally, I believe two-way communication is the key to ensuring that international education is the rich intercultural experience it could be!
See all that UOW has to offer on exchange http://www.uow.edu.au/student/exchange/index.html