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International Day celebrates the diverse flavours of Sydney

23 April 2016

Eastern Avenue came alive last week with music, colour, food and fun as we celebrated the diversity of our student community at International Day.

The event was a chance for international and domestic students to come together to share their culture, heritage and experiences at Sydney.

There was certainly no shortage of food on offer, with students trying their hands at sushi making, and tucking into pastries, pork rolls, kimchi, samosas and more.

Games of mahjong, trivia and dance performances were popular, and a provided a great opportunity to meet other students.

International Day also provided students with an opportunity to sample a bit of ‘Australian culture’, with the Aussie Olympics featuring a toss-a-thong competition and egg and spoon races. A free didgeridoo workshop, hosted by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) program, not only had feet tapping, it also helped educate students about the traditional custodians of our land.

Fourth-year media and communications student Trinh Nguyen, who moved to Australia from Vietnam in Year 10, said International Day was a chance to celebrate her culture.  

“What I miss the most, besides my family and friends, is the food. Having Vietnamese food on campus makes uni more welcoming, and is such a great thing for international students who might be feeling homesick like me,” she said.

Ian Yeoh, a member of the Japanese cultural exchange society Wasabi, said he shared a similar experience.

“It wasn’t really easy when I first came here because I didn’t have any friends,” said Yeoh, who moved to Australia from Singapore 18 months ago. “But after joining in with clubs, I started to make more friends and that’s how my life started to get better here.” 

Run by students for students with the support of the University of Sydney Union, clubs and societies are a great way to settle in and feel more connected – and with more than 200 at the University of Sydney there’s something for everyone.

To join a club, all you need is an ACCESS card. Some clubs and societies are free to join, while others require a small annual fee.

Second-year Bachelor of Commerce student Grace Tang said joining the Australian Chinese Cultural Appreciation Society – better known as Chopsticks – had helped her to meet interesting people and gain new perspectives.

“People in the club are very embracing and welcoming, and I really like the warmness and diversity of people from different background that joined the society,” she said.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is probably team cooperation and communication, you’re really trying to understand each other and accept different values.”

University Of Sydney Union International Programs Manager Kelly Wang said International Day was a celebration of multiculturalism, and highlighted the diverse cultures that made up the University of Sydney community.

“International Day encourages interactions between students of different backgrounds and ethnicities, Wang said.

“It offers a platform for international students to showcase their culture and traditions, whilst at the same time also provides an opportunity for them to learn more about Australian culture.”

The University of Sydney provides a variety of services to help international students adjust to life in Sydney.

Every semester, we run orientation events to help students get ready for university life and meet new students, while the Welcome to Sydney Alumni Program hosts trips around Sydney to help students get to know each other and their new home.

We also provide academic support to help students make sure they’re meeting their academic and visa requirements.  

Staff at the International Student Lounge (ISL) can also help students to transition into university life, by providing support and guidance. ISL is a great place for both domestic and international students to hang out, study, or play a game of pool. It also runs programs and activities for international students, including free English workshops, campus tours and social events such as the Welcome to Sydney Party, International Day and the International Festival in semester two.

It’s also home to clubs and societies like Unimates, who run events like weekend trips to the Blue Mountains.

“Australia promotes multiculturalism and I think it’s really important for Australian people to get to know different cultures, because there’s so many out there,” Tang said. “It’s pretty exciting.”