International students experience 'real Australia' (Issue 9, 2013)

Weekend-BreakAugust saw the return of the ever popular Weekend Break program where international students are paired with Aussie families in regional Victoria. Seventeen participants stayed with 10 host families in Albury-Wodonga and surrounding areas.

This exciting program allows international students to explore regional Australia and gives them a window into the lives of people who live in these areas. Usually day-to-day routines, demeanour and some personal views are markedly different between “city folk” and “country folk” and international students appreciate the opportunity to discover these differences.

It also allows international students to spend time with a family and hopefully develop friendships that are long lasting. Students are also able to practice their English language skills, with some finding thick country accents particularly challenging.  

La Trobe Master of Business Information Management and Systems student, Vijay Pilli really enjoyed his time with his host.

‘Meeting the host families from the countryside was exciting. Staying in Melbourne, I had overheard a lot about their relaxed lifestyle, peaceful and calm atmosphere, which was a fantastic experience,’ said Vijay who is from India.

‘This was a much needed program for international students. In my case I had seen parts of the Victorian countryside, but had never got an opportunity to interact with residents and get to know them and their lifestyle habits in detail.’

Vijay also used the program as a way of taking a break from the requirements of fulltime study.

‘It was also a much needed short break away from the daily routine, running pillar to post from University to part-time work and household stuff.’

Hosts were familiar with their areas so each student experienced different things depending on their family and the area they were in. Some of these things included a bush dance, barbeques, hunting, visiting historical sites, local art galleries and wineries, plus learning and playing Australian Rules Football (AFL).

La Trobe University International Students Services Manager Amanda Fong believes the program is a great way to strengthen relationships between international students and the community.

‘The program adds an invaluable dimension to the students’ educational experiences and also provides families with the opportunity to learn more about new cultures and interact positively with an international student – one more way we are breaking down stereotypes about international students.’

To find out more about what we offer our international students, visit the La Trobe International website.