Getting started in the international classroom

Look around you, how international is your classroom? Where is the person sitting next to you from? Move out of your comfort zone! This is your chance to build a network of friends from across the world.

Remember this international setting is increasingly going to be mirrored in the working world that you will shortly be entering. The more you make of your international classroom, the more of a global perspective you will gain. Taking this class (whether studying abroad, EMI or CLIL at home, or making the most of an internationalised curriculum in a FI class) is going to help you sell your university experience to future employers as having an international angle. This is an important asset in this global village we now live in.

However, whilst this may be all very well for your CV, when asked at a job interview to describe what your international experience was and what opportunities you took advantage of, you are going to need to be able explain. There will not be very much to say if you sat with friends who speak your own language and from the same culture!

It is an observation made by university teachers that international students (not the home students) get more out of the international classroom experience. They have not got the possibility of returning home at weekends (or not so often) and so work at building strong friendships and support groups. They use English to communicate. Whereas ‘local’ students tend to cluster together and not really show much interest in the international students. They speak in their native tongue.

Don’t be the one to miss out!! The international experience has come to you.

Group Activity: names and numbers

  • How many international students are there at your university, in your department and in your international classroom?
  • What are the names of your classmates? Where they are from? Make sure you have a way of contacting students in your class (for example, through the university intranet).
  • If your teacher has not asked you to introduce yourselves, ask if you can all have two minutes to say something: name, where from, home university (if currently at a host one)…