Assignment Help on Difficulties faced by International Female students in Melbourne
Ethnography is a study in which the researcher observes the society; it is the study of people and culture. The researcher researches about the folk tales, traditions, customs and lifestyles of different cultures. The study and systematic recording of human culture is ethnography (Merriam Webster).
According to Nader (2011), ethnography is not just a description; it is rather a theory. Ethnography is a whole system which is about “living with people” and “talking with them” who belong to different cultures. Ethnography is theoretical in its mode of description; indeed it is a theory of description. In addition, the word ethnography is derived from a Greek word; that in Greek is pronounced as “ethnos”; which means a company, nation and graphy means field of study. Ethnography focuses on large group of people who interact for a period of time.
The researcher explains learnt patterns of customs, languages, beliefs and cultures shared by a group of people. Observations are the important aspect of researcher but sometimes he also includes interviews to clarify and authenticate his observations. Multiple conversational and interviewing methods may be used on the single ethnographic project. The ethnographers strive hard to establish rapport, to make a good, strong and friendly bond based on personal contacts. They observe the regular routines of the community of study. While interacting with the concerned people they pay attention to the environment, context and artifacts. However, contemporary ethnography is based entirely on field word and ethnographer has to immerse himself in the culture and day to day lives of the people; who are the subject of his study.
In this essay, different aspects of ethnography along with the challenges faced by international female students in Melbourne, Australia have been highlighted.
Challenges Faced by International Female Students in Melbourne
The students that travel to other countries in order to pursue their studies and for that they undertake universities or other educational courses; face many challenges. If their home country culture is different from the country they go to live in, the complexity of challenges gets tougher. The physical and psychological condition of these students and their academic performance is often affected by these adjustment challenges; and this is not surprising at all (Ward, Bochner & Furnham, 2001). Though male and female both students face challenges in this case but the challenges of female students are somewhat different from the male students.
International students that come to Australia are most likely to experience “culture shock”. The loss of everyday sights and signs and the struggle to cope up with this shock sometimes even take a toll on their health. The culture difference does not seem to affect as strongly as it actually does when one actually experiences it. International students are almost always aware of this culture gap and the differences but when they actually live it they appear to be affected more strongly. The differences like educational level, self-esteem, status, financial status and prior cross-cultural experience are challenges that international students have to live with. The challenge of adopting the Australian lifestyle and to be a part of Australia’s everyday life; that may be for a short period of time is a difficulty in itself. Cultural differences even influence international students’ language learning and understanding. They have different understanding regarding the concepts of English language based on their cultural backgrounds (Fan, 2010). The limited social interaction of International students with Australians also makes the adoption difficult. To achieve a satisfying social interaction with host nationals is definitely a complex yet challenging process but if done so the international students develop the understanding of the new culture (Li & Gasser, 2005).
Australian and Asian cultures are poles apart; especially when it comes to females, there is a strike difference in both cultures. The behavior, lifestyle, views and thoughts are extremely dissimilar; their attitudes are somewhat opposite. Asian culture molds up women as shy, submissive individual; when these girls start living in Australia, the attitudes of host nationals give them a hard time. They find it difficult to become like them and thus adopting Australian lifestyle becomes harder for them. In most cultures of Asia, females are taught to have less or no contact with opposite gender and in Australia, no such concept exists. The students usually study together and host national females have no inhibitions with males. Asian girls find it difficult to adjust themselves with them. Their cultural values prevent them to become a part of them.
If international female students actively participate with Australians they adopt their culture easily; however if they do not relate to new culture and maintain a relationship with their own culture, they are most likely to experience more difficulty in adjusting themselves in Australian environment.
Racism has been a problem in almost all parts of the world and the person who is at the receiving end is always the one who suffers. International students experience racism in Melbourne not only in universities and institutes but they are also discriminated on the basis of their race in their other activities as well. This shatters their self-confidence and it becomes harder for them to adjust themselves in Australian environment.
There are several reports in Australian media how nationals have abused and harassed Asians on various occasions. The local students often look down upon international students and naturally international students have to seek their help in order to survive in their world and when the host nationals do not help, adjusting in this living condition becomes difficult for students.
Homesickness is defined as the stress and tension caused by the separation or anticipated separation from home and family. In this state, the person misses his home and keeps thinking about his home and family members. The international students of Melbourne are observed sitting alone and appeared to be aloof. While talking to them it became obvious that though they really wanted to come here but they are finding it extremely difficult to adjust themselves without their family members. So, homesickness among international students is a common phenomenon (Karin et al., 2007). Some of the female students are often seeing crying during the initials days of their courses. In homes, schools and in other areas people usually enjoy predictability; but when you are in foreign land on your own, most of the things that happen are unpredictable and sometimes unavoidable. These kinds of situations strike hard and students start missing their homes. Sometimes, they miss their homes so badly that they start thinking about shifting back to their home country and some students are seen doing so. Homesickness can also be considered as “mini grief” where adjusting to the educational life may turn into significant stressors (Stroebe et al., 2002).
The immersion of one in a new environment and that too with no established connections ignites stress and homesickness (Thurber, 2012). When the time of some feast or festival comes the urge of going back arises in them and they are seen struggling to cope up and try to keep themselves busy. Female students find it more difficult in these times to stay away from their families. They experience depression and emotions like sadness and these cannot be immediately relieved. Depressive mood is one of the common characteristic of homesick individuals; they feel aimless and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide are also seen in homesickness (Vantilburg, 1997).
One of the challenges international students face is the difference of language; which causes misunderstandings and thus it becomes tougher to adjust. The students are seen trying hard to explain their thoughts but often they are misunderstood which causes frustration in them. Spoken English as well as written English challenge students in Melbourne. They appear to struggle hard trying to grasp the Australian accent. Some international students come from non English speaking countries and for them English is second language; thus this barrier is the biggest challenge for them to survive in Australian educational institutes. The lack of their language skills affects their social life (Andrade, 2006). Limited social activities and social interactions do not help international students in adjusting in the Australian institutes and thus homesickness strikes and that makes things worse. Those female students who are in Melbourne for international research papers are seen struggling with this barrier the most. Since they are in higher educational level; their lack of English is the biggest hurdle in their research papers and for their papers, higher English language proficiency is required. The students having underdeveloped language skills report lower level of academic success and social functioning (Chalungsooth & Schneller, 2011, p. 180).
Lack of Confidence
Most of the students appear to be submissive, introvert and low confident. The change of countries affects their confidence level as well. They themselves feel alienated in institutes and when required to interact they appear to be someone who is not bold enough to say what she feels like; even though most of them have been quite confident in their home countries. However, in a foreign land their confidence level can be seen shaken. Considering the discussion, it can be viewed that the students are somewhat intimidated by host nationals. While talking to them their confidence level shakes and when they talk to someone from their own country they talk with their natural confidence. The battle to regain their natural confidence is one of the challenges international students are often observed fighting.
The shifting process hurts one’s psychological health the most. International students suffer depression because of homesickness, not finding strength to cope up with stress of academic, language barrier, culture shock and limited or no social interaction. This all make them psychologically ill. International students have more psychological problems as compare to the local students (Yeh & Inose, 2003). The fear of community acceptance and not being one of them make them aloof. The thought of handling everything on their own without assistance of any of the family members makes them over protective and over cautious. They are seen somewhat scared as they are alone in a foreign land. The fear of “if something happens” prevents them to engage in new things and they over think everything. All these factors collectively hurt their feelings and that takes a toll on their psychological health.
Melbourne’s climate is difficult to adjust; especially for the students hailing from the Asian countries. As discussed with friends, it can be observed that international female students find it difficult to adjust with unpredictable Melbourne’s climatic conditions. The weather is opposite there where they come from. Most of the students are seen in bad physical health because their bodies find it difficult to adjust in Melbourne’s climate. In addition, Melbourne’s weather is so unpredictable that sometimes it is referred as having “four seasons” in a single day. The initial days of these students are often seen suffering from health problems because of the constant change of weather.
One of the challenges international students face is financial stability. Melbourne is not a cheap rather it is one of the expensive cities. To live and study here means a lot of money. Most of the students that come to study in Melbourne are not used to of living in expensive cities and most of the female students are not used to of supporting themselves financially. When they come to Melbourne, some unexpected expenses arise and that make hard for them to support themselves financially. Even domestic students are often seen struggling to manage themselves financially but it is harder for international students to study and live in Melbourne. Serious financial problems also affect those students who are on scholarship. Not earning money and to live in an expensive city affect all the areas of students’ lives and thus they have limited or no opportunities to enjoy their experience of student life in abroad.
The methods of academic preparation are different from their home countries. International students have to make themselves familiar with the Melbourne’s academic process in order to achieve a better result. One of the difficulties international female students in Melbourne face is that they find difficulty in approaching their studies. Neither do they understand that what is expected from them when they are in this new academic environment (Johnson & Kumar, 2010). Asian students often memorize the work in order to achieve better result in their home countries whereas in Melbourne the approach is to make students understand what they are studying rather than just memorizing the lessons. It is a challenge that international research students face that they have to switch from dependent learning style to independent learning style. Most research works are independent that requires more critical thinking and initiative (McClure, 2003). So, these students are seen finding it extremely difficult to adjust in Australia’s academic environment.