Top five cultural changes international students experience in Australia

CULTURAL changes are inevitable when studying overseas. Trinity College Foundation Studies students, Leona Goh, Skylar Xu and Fiona Ji interview fellow peers on the top five cultural changes they have been through.


For the majority of international students arriving in Australia, adjusting to the local culture is something that they should fully expect.

From major changes such as their command of the English language to smaller changes that they might not have given much thought about, we take a look at five things that some students experience as part of their adjustment to Australian education.

1. Learning styles

Photo: yohey1028

Photo: yohey1028

Arguably, the most significant cultural change is the different approach to learning. Koko, an international student from Japanese, admits that she is expected to voice her opinion more in Australian class than in back home with the Japanese education system.

2. Food

Photos: Sarah Lim

Photos: Sarah Lim

Australia also offers a lot of cultural differences around food. For example, there are many more variants of fried food in Melbourne than in Asian countries, where most food is either steamed or stewed. Additionally, Chinese student Skylar said the food in Melbourne is too sweet compared to food back in his hometown.

3. Language


Many international students speak English as their second language, and thus some of them might face difficulties with language fluency. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that language is another massive cultural change for these students.

4. Service hours

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In Melbourne, usually during weekdays, shops and cafés tend to close quite early compared to those in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and China. Students might not be used to these shorter service hours, especially when the urge for a midnight snack kicks in.

5. Informality


Many international students are not used to calling their teachers by the first name. This is because in their home countries, there can be a very high level of authority displayed by teachers to students, whereas in Trinity, students are treated as equal to their teachers. Malaysian student Hui Min said calling a teacher by their first name is seen as a form of disrespect back home.

To deal with such changes, students should welcome differences with an open mind and learn from their experiences. This way, they will learn to develop a form of sensitivity and respect for other cultures, in turn making their time away from home more enjoyable and meaningful.

What are some significant cultural changes you have been through? Share with us in the comments below!

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch us via

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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