International students are not exactly having a grand party in Australia. They have been trying to get part-time jobs to help defray the high cost of living – and balancing it with time studying for their degree program, learning a new language and integrating into a new culture at the same time.
Higher education institutions in Australia, for their part, understand that it is not child’s play for international students to easily adapt and adjust to a new culture that’s totally different from theirs. A lot of the nurturing and supportive institutions like CIC Higher Education trading as Cambridge International College in Melbourne – has utilised student volunteers to help their fellow students adjust and combat the loneliness of being separated from their families and home countries. CIC’s culture of engaging students is apparent in the collaborative activities between the educational institution’s staff, faculty and students as they live and breathe their slogan: “Divided by country, United by CIC!”
Students have their say
Student volunteers have started the CIC Power Hour, an idea-sharing forum to empower fellow students to have their say as well as hear about career and employment tips from industry experts in 30-minute lunch hour sessions.
They have also resumed A Walk to Remember wherein CIC students from different countries and cultures join together in activities that familiarise them with Melbourne and neighbouring suburbs. This is where they coined their slogan about being part of the CIC family.
CIC management has also organised the Student Ambassador Program where student volunteers are evaluated based on their interests and are assigned individual roles to cater to students’ emotional well-being through sports, fitness, study group, one-on-one coaching, idea sharing, confidence building – all in the spirit of engaging students and making them feel that they’re part of one big family with diverse and specific needs.
All students welcome
All international students are welcome at Cambridge International College and their contributions to improving the student experience valued highly, according to Francesca Macpherson, Campus Manager.
“We take note of students’ requests so long as we stay within the guidelines of our policies and regulations. We also constantly improve our facilities and provide a variety of services to make life on campus feel much more enjoyable – library facilities, study centre, councelling services, movie screenings and academic support ,” she says.
Mrs Macpherson encourages students to reach out to their lecturers and the student support teams on campus. She also emphasises that they’re in Australia to get a degree and that their first priority is to study and commit to class assignments. She concludes, “Don’t forget to have fun, explore your surroundings, get to know the Australian culture and strike up a conversation with local Melbournians.
Memorable student experience
At the first CIC Power Hour, student ambassador Yennie Le of Vietnam shared about her passion to become a chef and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management after having failed Business Law (from another university) thrice.
In spite of tragic family circumstances and personal obstacles, Yennie went on to become a qualified Australian chef and resumed her interrupted bachelor’s degree when she quit to study in a culinary school.
Yennie’s story resonates with a lot of students who left their home country to pursue their dream of earning a degree that will prepare them for the global job market.
It greatly helps to study in an institution that cares enough – and understands their needs enough – to make them feel welcome. It certainly feels great to be considered an integral part of the CIC Higher Education family – it definitely assuages the loneliness of being separated from family back home.