“Lonely Student”

Way back in high school, I had a friend that came over from Argentina. She sat by herself for the first three days during lunch, stayed quiet in classes and walked home alone after school. I recognised the same kind of awkward loneliness I feel in new crowds and so very unnaturally extended my hand of friendship (social anxiety can be a killer). She was a new student, just transferring from a Spanish speaking, culturally differing home into a school mainly made up of local kids, with a tiny ESL department as the only real support system. Not to make this about me, but after doing the readings for this lecture it makes me sad to think that international students don’t always have this opportunity to jump into Australian culture, and be protected even just a little more by Australian people who want to be friends. It does not surprise me when racism is brought up in regards to international students, as anyone living under a rock would even know of the issues being shown in the media of racist attacks towards Indian students studying abroad in Australia. [1] [2] [3]
Unfortunately this prevalence of racist attitudes in Australian schools and Universities has affected the influx of International students keen to gain a unique Australian, world class education. [4] Thus, creating an image of an unsafe, unkind, Un-Australian attitude to future higher education seeking students.

But not only has the international student numbers been affected by these occurrences, it has also been found that loneliness, cost of education and living and the emergence of information that Australian, local students have a disconnectedness towards the international students through language and cultural barriers. More or less the main issue prevailing the international students at the moment is the exploitation of ‘cheap’, foreign labour.[5][6] Australian employers have been found guilty of exploiting those working in conditions that are illegal and would be illegal even for Australian workers. Even trying to convince international students to work more hours than their visas allow, and making them work for less than our own minimum wage. 7/11 is currently being investigated about accusations of ‘slave’ labour. These are irresponsible, unethical and illegal occurrences that will impact on future numbers of international students and our own global image as a country of opportunity.

We as a student number, as a government and as a culture have the ability to change these perceptions, these awful instances and attacks and can help heal the damages caused by those few who take advantage of others.

[1] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/indian-student-numbers-plunge-after-fresh-attack/story-fni0fee2-1226795039267

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-05-31/thousands-protest-against-indian-student-attacks/1699888

[3] http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/racist-attack-indian-students-family-may-leave-australia-553372

[4] http://theconversation.com/lost-international-student-enrolments-may-cost-australia-billions-2199

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4305800.htm

[6] http://rlc.org.au/article/rlc-media-concern-over-exploitation-international-students-work

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