There are many International Student Stereotypes, some that assume they are privileged, and others that accuse them of committing to studies as a ruse to land them permanent residency. International students are aware that these are merely stereotypes that can’t be applied to every single student who comes from overseas to study. Not all are opportune to be rich; most of them are funded through scholarships, while others are from middle-class families who need part-time jobs to cover the cost of tuition.
As The Mancunion puts it, “Rarely is the financial sacrifice of parents who do not come from massive stores of inherited wealth acknowledged or considered”.
Even though they are from wealthy backgrounds, that does not relate to been shallow or they like to spend their money on lavish items. However, most of them don’t want to stick around in their home country and some of them intend to return home after studying or wish to work in other countries. Attempting to tackle the stereotype of international students can be daunting.
As The Mancunion puts it, many students prefer to stick to a group of friends that are from the same home countries as them rather than getting to know the locals because they fear being judged as a result of the harmful stereotypes.
“It appears that many international students do not intend to be antisocial; instead, it often stems from anxiety about how we are being perceived. Meanwhile, many feel that such stereotypes are inescapable, and not worth trying to subvert”.
“As a result of this, distinct communities are created, as some students feel more comfortable amongst members of their own culture”. That is unfortunate because in order to get the most out of a study abroad experience, it’s worth getting to know the locals as well as exploring the culture.
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How To Tackle International Student Stereotypes
Here are some tips on how to tackle negative stereotypes as an international student.
Try to assimilate
At first, it may be difficult but try as much as you can to talk to your classmates or dorm-mates. Is anyone is rude to you, simply back out and try with others. People stereotype often because they don’t know any better. They are more likely to see the error of their ways when they get to know you, they will also realise you are so much more than your nationality or race.
While it’s perfectly fine to make friends with people from your own country, also try to widen your social circle to include those from other countries as well. Try to reach out to them by giving them the benefit of the doubt. You will not only make more friends, you will also build self-confidence and interpersonal skills while smashing stereotypes in the process.
It is amazing what you learn when you choose to listen and understand instead of assuming and accepting stereotypes as truth. One of the greatest way to show others that stereotypes are false is by sharing your culture and heritage. Invite friends over when you cook local cuisine, when you celebrate certain festivals or practise classroom presentations.
International students from Kent State recently shared their cultures through presentations, traditional foods and performances at the annual International Homecoming Celebration. As KentWired will put it, “The event gave international students the opportunity not only to show how much they love their countries, but to also teach those who might subscribe to stereotypes regarding politics, religion or social issues.
Noor Agustina, a PhD student from Indonesia, has worked for two years at the International Homecoming Celebration, using the event as an opportunity to break stereotypes about people from her home country. “Because our majority is Muslim, sometimes people think Muslims are terrorists. I want use this opportunity to say we are not terrorists, We are friends, we are people and we are human.”
Join student clubs
This is another way to get to know students from other countries and also meet people who share same similarities. When you share a common interest or passion, naturally, people will get to know you as an individual and see beyond the stereotypes.
A student from Singapore in political department, Justin Koh who studies at the University of Melbourne, told VICE that he joined sports teams and started opening up more, that alone helped him to overcome negative stereotypes.
“Mixing with Aussies has been an eye opener for me and its really nice. I was able to meet locals by playing football here. In terms of culture, I feel Australians are more carefree, more liberal, which is great. There are things Singaporeans can actually learn from Aussie culture. They’re proactive and they voice their opinions. I think that’s commendable. “In Melbourne University, the local students voice their opinions freely and sometimes in class I feel I’m too quiet. But i tarted to talk when i got to second year. “I was afraid that people wouldn’t understand my accent, and that might be a stumbling block. But I managed to get over it. And so far it’s good. When I voice my opinion in class they’re actually very receptive to it”.
He advised other international students to “leave the bubble and hang out with locals”, but they might have to be patient when others tend to stereotype.
For instance, he’s often forced to explain that his English is so good as a result of the fact that he was taught to speak the language from an early age – just like most Singaporeans.