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7Problems in adjusting to the culture of Australian universities



Universities have their own particular cultures and for students who join these institutions of higher learning, adjusting to such culture of a university usually takes time and effort. Considering the culture of Australian universities, students face a number of problems in an attempt to successfully adjust to this culture. Apparently, these cultures related problems are pertinent to Australian traditions and cultural practices. Among these problems include; adjusting to a new culture, cultural stress, cross-cultural male-female relationships, reverse cultural shock, communication difficulties which finally lead to learning difficulties, cultural discrimination and a decision made after graduation based on an individual’s cultural background.

Cultural stress

Cultural stress is a facet of individual well-being that is basic but important to the experience of relating to others in the society and is probable to be correlated with the well-being of learners in a number of areas. According to a study carried out by Bradley as cited in (Walton, 2005), the relationships between cultural stress and measures of mental health (anxiety, stress, and depression) and learning of social lifestyle balance puts forward that there is a group of depressing psychosocial repercussions for international students which may acutely hamper their adaptation to the society of Australian universities and to their capacity to execute optimally in a university setting.

Adjustment to a new culture

A typical problem faced by students in Australian universities is adjusting to a new environment and culture. As stated in Oberg (1998), most research concurs

with the three phases that one can use to adjust.

the initial one being honeymoon where learners get thrilled by the new familiarity. stage two is a period when the society upset is most powerful. For most university students and according to my experience, it is during this period that confusion in the distinctiveness of a learner takes place as learners come across different and fresh beliefs, ways of living, behaviors, and morals. Fortunately, during the recovery period, most learners start to understand while appreciating the latest way of life. According to Berry (2010), such a period can be classified as equally as the incorporation stage and the combination period; the integration period implies to learners who try to find connections amid the other culture while being conservative on their home culture. Initial studies utilized a conceptualization of way of life alteration founded on the comprehension of diverse characters and the way they can react to diverse viewpoints and new cultures. The result was that learners handle similar situations in dissimilar methods. for instance, whilst a nu mber of learners may shrink into themselves or become hostile, other learners take it as a confront to be trounced.

Cross-cultural male-female relationships among students

As asserted in (Berry, 2010), learners coming from less democratic families can have hardships with maintaining relationships across diverse cultures. Such students develop in coping up to a culture where more emphasis is placed on different gender roles. However, from my experience at the university, misconstructions can crop up in every day relations in a number of circumstances for example societal circumstances.

Despite the fact that each culture has different thoughts in regard to gender related code of good conduct, frustrations arise when cultural dissimilarities in sexual category associations and functions are meet. Even though no researches have contented about the issue of diverse ages in some cultures, some cultures exhibited in Australian universities attach more reverent perception directed to old people in comparison to the current situation contained in the common European civilizations. The implication of this therefore, is that if the learner is elder with a dependable employment in his home nation, and an instructor is of lesser age and thus has a slight skill, the learner can face a number of hardships in giving the instructor some respect in regard to cultural issues.

Decision made after graduation

Sometimes, intercontinental learners after being accustomed to university culture, feel stressed in regard to deciding on whether or not to remain in the respective nation where they studied or go rear to their mother countries after completing their studies. This is because while undertaking their study, their ways of life have changed to enable them factor into consideration diverse cultures that are apparent in a significant number of Australian universities, while their people anticipate that the very way of life of students not to have changed.

Reverse cultural shock

It refers to a series of responses to the failure of perceptual reserves from the way of life of an individual, to different cultural stimuli, that have little or no sense, and to the clash of different and varied skills.

Cultural discrimination

Racial discrimination is one of the pertinent issues facing learners from abroad who come to study in Australian universities based on their cultural background. According to (Khoo, 2002), West Indian, African, and Asian students might experience more prejudice and discrimination. Besides, it is apparent from my personal experience at the university that even although foreign learners studying in Australia are from diverse backgrounds.

Communication problems

Due to the fact that students in Australian universities come from diverse cultural backgrounds that are characterized by different languages, there is rottenly language related problems. Most students do find it difficult to adjust with the accentual pace of the tutors. This may negatively affect their performance. Due to different cultures exhibited in a significant number of Australian universities, students more specifically those from other cultures apart from Australian (Majority of who are international students), often find it difficult adjusting and coping up with these culture related aspects just by the fact that they have moved to a different culture. However, a number of student do benefit from this cultural diversity while others more so from conservative sections of the world studying in Australian universities find it hard if not impossible to adapt and continue with their studies. Some aspects like language have a significant impact on students’ performance. For basing on my personal experience, accent is a key issue haunting a considerable number of indigenous Australian tutors and professors such that unless a student is fully accustomed to the Australian language, it may not be possible for him or her to understand certain concepts. It thus remains a primary mandate bestowed upon various universities in Australia to institute policies so as to ensure students comfortably adjust to new cultures.


Berry, D. (2010). Conceptual Approaches to Acculturation. London: Sage Publications.

Khoo, M. (2002). Australian Government Department of Immigration. Canberra: Highway Press.

Oberg, D. (1998). Psychotherapy and the Foreign Student. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.

Walton, M. (2005). Study Abroad: A Manual for Asian Students. Kuala Lumpur: Longman.