Disconnections with the host nation and the significance of international student communities: Asian international students in Australia

Dr Catherine Gomes1

1Rmit, Melbourne, Australia

This paper look at Asian international students in Australia and their disconnectedness with local students. Here I suggest that these students create parallel societies for themselves in the host nation based on their identities as international students or as diasporic nationals. These parallel societies while impermanent exist for the benefit and support of their members throughout their transience. Through extensive interviews with 46 international students from Asia, my research reveals that these students hold aspirations for cosmopolitan mobility with ambitions to live and work in the big cities of Europe, North America and Asia with a view to return to the home nation eventually or possibly in the future. Moreover my study reveals that the respondents’ cosmopolitan mobility is encouraged by their lived experiences in Australia. Here I highlight their ability to form friendship networks with fellow international students from their home nation and from elsewhere in Asia. This they do, for a range of reasons, in lieu of friendships with locals. I also refer to their capacity to find a sense of belonging to their home nation through rapid developments in communication and media technologies.


Catherine Gomes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication where she teaches Asian Studies.  She was also an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2013-2016) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Singapore Management University.  Catherine has worked extensively on the themes of of identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, multiculturalism and transnationalism in Australia and Singapore as well as on the information-seeking behaviour of international students in Australia.  Catherine is founding editor of Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. She is author and editor of 5 books.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

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