Intercultural Experience

This blog is about my experience as a local student interacting with international students from other countries. Since I have never been to overseas for studies, the things I learn about the worlds’ other cultures would be through books in classrooms, watching the television or the fastest, through the Internet. Apart from work or vacation, as far as I could remember, I have never come across any international student in my study life, even when I was studying diploma in another college.

In my current college, there are a lot of international students who have enrolled here. I personally have known a few students that came from China and Korea. I feel that our cultural backgrounds and lifestyles are somewhat similar, since we share the same “Asian values” in terms of custom, education, marriage or religion. Born as a Malaysian Chinese, I can communicate with those students from China in the same mother tongue.

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Based on Marginson’s “International Education as Self-Formation”, she stated that local students tend to apply ethnocentrism towards international student. This can be relatively true as witnessed in reality; not only within college campus but also in workplaces, in different countries or anywhere, really. This indirectly corresponds to racism. Of course, not everyone does it, but it is not false that most of us undeniably have assumptions towards a particular group of people. The influence of backgrounds with the thoughts and beliefs inculcated into our mindset do play a factor. Subconsciously supposed, we are inclined to feel distinctive from the other person if he or she is biologically physical different than us.

As like what Marginson said, international students are fully prepared to make new friends in a foreign environment. From my point of view, I think Malaysian students are quite friendly and open minded, as we can mix with foreign students pretty well since our country is a multiracial nation in addition with the diversity of food and different cultures, in which are similarly with those in China, Iran, India, etc. Thus, I think it is easy and convenient for International students to accommodate with the local culture. As suggested by Marginson, the use multiplicity or hybridity could be a solution for international students to accommodate with the local culture in terms of linguistic, as most of us can speak native language or mother tongue and also English with each other. In fact, I am actually interested to understand and learn more of their culture for extra knowledge.

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These international students have come so far away from their home to further their studies. Being alone in a foreign land, some may feel like an oddball and awkward as they could not really adapt with the environment immediately yet. What more when they are away from their families. I could understand these feelings as well, since I am living away from my home too. Not only international students, everyone does feel they do not fit in a crowd at some point in their lives. Thus, we should not be discriminating others on the basis of race, ethnic or religion.

Let’s spread love, not hate.

Reference:

Marginson, S (2012) ‘International Education as Self-Formation: Morphing a Profit-Making Business Into an Intercultural Experience’ Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012.

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