Australia, known to many as a country of freedom and opportunity may very well entail the opposite experience for some. From across the globe, aspiring international University students apply to attend Australian Universities in the hopes of enriching their academic experience and establish relationships unique to the intercultural setting that is threaded through Australia. Determined to enter into the Anglo-education system with the dominant language being English, many students have vigorously studied English for years before embarking upon their academic journey within Australia.
Although, when they arrived to the ‘land down under’, English wasn’t the language that was spoken.
Without acknowledgement, Australians speak in tongues of hybridised English—noted to be a ”form of resistance of the domination of the English during colonisation.”(Kell & Vogl, 2006, p.1)
The research conducted by Kell and Vogl in ‘International Students: negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, highlight the informal, lazy and abbreviated slang used by Australians (2006, p.1). Consequently, international students are rendered confused and are unable to understand or respond to Australians whom regularly lace this slang into everyday conversation.
As discussed by Kell and Vogl, the interconnected-ness between language and social interaction are detrimental to creating and sustaining relationships thus emulating a rich intercultural experience (2006, p.2). Without this connection, international students are excluded by local students causing them to seem like a homogeneous group of like-minded international students–as it is easy for one to seek comfort in familiarity. Thus re-enforcing the deficit model where international students are stereotyped as helpless and weak.
However, I didn’t fully understand how many words that I use on a daily basis are foreign to people in other countries of the world.
This Youtube video created by Kieran Murray effectively demonstrates the global lack of understanding of Australian slang. This, however, communicates the extent to which the lifestyle and culture tethered to certain countries like Australia are unknown by other countries.
In relation to international students, it is extremely difficult for them to interact with local students when they are unaccustomed to the fast-paced slang used so often by Australians. Therefore, there is a need for Australian students to be understanding of the cultural shock endured by international students and reduce the slang used around them. Although, how can one reduce the use of Australian slang where words such as ‘esky’ and ‘fortnight’—as shown in the video—have manifested into a word rather than slang. This brings to light the parochial view of Australians in the belief that others—not of Australian background—do not understand the basic and conversational words and slang of Australian tongue.
Therefore, this further pushes the notion of cosmopolitanism where we are not subjected to the parochial views of our nation but rather a citizen of the world. We as citizens of the world—a status that I hope to fully embrace—need to push past the superficiality of cultural understanding with events such as ‘rice day’ and actually engage, interact and learn from other cultures. It is only with this initiative that I believe we will be fully aware of the world and fulfill Immanuel Kant’s ideal that we would become ‘citizens of a universal state of human beings’ (Armstrong, C 2011, pp.4).
International students being fully immersed within another culture gain a cultural plurality or global awareness where they engage in a lesser form of cosmopolitanism through multiplicity—becoming more than one person living one life—and hybridity—combination of different cultural elements into a transformed self. It is due to this that Marginson refers to international students as “strong agents piloting the course of their own lives” where through experience, relationships and the environment a sense of self formation is gained (2012, p.5).
So, is there really a dominant race between the parochial Australian sense of self laced with slang and the cosmopolitanism self formation of international students?
Armstrong, C 2011, ‘Prospects of Citizenship’, Global Citizenship: Cosmopolitan futures, pp.1-10 <http://www.academia.edu/2275250/Global_Citizenship_Cosmopolitan_Futures>
Kell. P & Vogl, G 2006, ‘ International Students: negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Macquarie University, Australia, pp.1-7
Marginson, S 2012,’ Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience: International education as self-formation’, University of Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-8
Murray, K 2015 Aussie Slag [online video], 5 February , viewed 2 September 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpUBVedPnJ8>