In search of knowledge and education, students travel all over the world for a quality study experience while earning a degree and building a desirable future for themselves.
My dream after finishing my undergraduate studies in Nigeria was to pursue my postgraduate studies abroad. My country of choice was Australia where I chose to study a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Newcastle.
I was scarcely prepared for life as an international student, especially regarding forming social connections, and I have found out I am not alone in this.
Justice Zhou, an international student from China, said her initial experience building her social network was difficult.
“It was really hard to socialise with anyone,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, this is the case for many international students who recently moved to Newcastle for their studies. So, it is worthwhile to be equipped with strategies for building a social network.
While it was inevitable that I would make new friends, I began to build an intentional social network. Here are a few ways you can build your social network as an international student in Australia:
For prospective international students, participating in the programs during Orientation Week is the first step to building your social presence and socialising with other international students. Orientation Week was my first stride into building my social network, and I was privileged to attend the available programs for new students. I met other new international students like me, from African and Asian countries and current students at the University. UNSA and other student clubs at the university were introduced to us and I was determined to enjoy every student experience as much as possible. I signed up for UniCrew, the University’s volunteering unit, and a few student clubs.
Joining a social club is a great way to build your social presence with other international students and get involved with campus activities. Through joining UniCrew I have met and developed many beautiful relationships with other students. I met a Ghanian student at one of the events I volunteered for and she shared her many experiences being a PhD student here at the University of Newcastle and what some of the rewarding moments have been for her. Chris Cheung, a Master of Nursing student from Hong Kong said she joined the FOCUS group of the Newcastle Christian Students when she got to Newcastle. Here, she has been able to meet with other international students and participate in events, activities and outings together.
Specific International and Social clubs include:
There is a specific Instagram for International Students at the University of Newcastle! The page @UniNewcastleInternationalPW posts content for What’s On each month, these events are great to meet more international students. You can also follow @Uni_Newcastle_Students on Instagram or Facebook for weekly events for all students!
Check your student email for The Know!
NuMates is a program run by UON Global to engage international and domestic students through a range of fun activities. You will be connected with a small group of fellow students from globally diverse backgrounds.
Attending classes is a given when you are studying at university, but as an international student it is also a perfect way to bond and meet with other international students. An international student from the Philippines, Alessandra Puno, shared how she was able to connect with international students during her first year and how they became a support system for each other.
“We were all young adults who recently left home and were trying to navigate our way through our new lives as international students in Australia. This significant life experience connected us and enabled us to find a support system in one other. Up to this day, we are still a tight-knit bunch and encourage each other to excel in university. Additionally, we enjoy going out on adventures such as kayaking, hiking, and travelling!”
Justice Zhou agreed, explaining that she was able to socialise and make new friends through group tutorials, “It helped me get out of my comfort zone.”
As an international student, you can have the best student experience by leaving your comfort zone.
Attend social activities, join a school club, have a hangout with friends and get involved. Through attending classes and other related social activities on campus such as the free BBQs, I have been able to meet diverse students from different countries all over the world. The University of Newcastle is a beautiful campus for learning and building beautiful relationships as you navigate through life.
Maximise it while you can!