Aug 8, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

For Chinese international students in Australia, making friends outside of their cultural group is challenging—and necessary.

International education expert, Professor Ly Tran of Deakin University in Melbourne told that Chinese students in Australia find it difficult to integrate socially.  She says that many Chinese students struggle to befriend local students, even though they want to integrate more into Australian social life.

Tran said, “We have students from a variety of backgrounds, and they come with their own motivations and social preparation prior to their departure, so we are dealing with a spectrum of Chinese students, some are prepared for what to expect and able to socialize easily, and others are not.”

What are the causes for this disconnect?  The language barrier, for one.

Tran says, “English proficiency can be a barrier to communication, and the responsibility of improving language skills is the responsibility of the Chinese student, that’s really up to them.”

Another barrier?  Opportunity.

Tran argues that Chinese students don’t have much opportunity to interact with their local peers because opportunities are limited.  Due to the large numbers of Chinese students studying in Australia, it can be easy for student to gravitate naturally to their international peer group, rather than branching out.

While this large population can “create a sense of comfort and identity reinforcement,” Chinese students may feel less motivated to venture out of their comfort zone. 

The benefit of pushing those boundaries?

Tran says, “Socializing into Australian society can help the students enhance their international understanding and knowledge, and even increase employability, by the simple act of expanding their network.”

Learn more about studying in Australia.


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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