The international student cohort at UOW is diverse, representing over 100 nationalities and cultures. A significant proportion of UOW International students currently come from India, China, Nepal, and populous cities with access to diverse nightlife culture. Currently Wollongong nightlife has a vibrant club and small bar scene (predominantly based around alcohol-consuming activity) which can be limiting to families and non-drinkers.
Wollongong is a regional town, population nearly 300,000 with many nationalities, cultures, and local businesses that reflect the demographic. International students at UOW have identified settling and transition challenges including the quietness of city particularly after evening (compared to home cities); lack of student friendly activities in the evening; safety concern utilising public transport at night; limited opportunity to meet others, particularly outside of one’s cultural group; not knowing where to go in town and not having anyone to go with.
Facilitating regular social event addresses logistical constraints and social ‘awkwardness’ for students. Event series launch at Viva La Gong creates exposure amongst locals and international students. Social connections are made early; exposure and familiarity with local environment i.e. Wollongong; exposure to ISA’s and International Student Programs (ISP) early to enable future contact and support.
International students need to feel connected, ‘trust’ and feel integrated into UOW and wider community before they can begin to know and access more specific support services. This series lays the foundation for those connections to be made.