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International students receive colourful welcome to the Illawarra community

Wollongong highlighted as an excellent study and lifestyle choice.

Around 500 international students who have joined UOW this semester were treated to a warm official welcome to their new home in the Illawarra last night (8 August).

Students from more than 30 countries, staff and local community members gathered at University Hall for the UOW Welcome Evening.

The event, now in its 10th year, is designed to assist students and their families in becoming acquainted with the city, community and each other. Students from China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, Iran, Pakistan and the U.S. – among other countries, attended the event which carried a cross-cultural flavour, featuring a parade of students in international dress-wear.

UOW Deputy Vice Chancellor Alex Frino said the evening was an important social and cultural opportunity for UOW’s international cohort.

“We have more than 4,600 international students studying here at UOW in any given year. The cultural diversity is what makes this University so vibrant, this event is a great way to help the students settle into the community as they undertake their studies in this beautiful coastal city.

“Our Student Life programs are designed in such a way so students from all over the world can feel connected with various social opportunities, and receive support as they embrace this part of their professional journey in a new culture,” Professor Frino said.

According to a 2015 UOW Economic Impact Report - Leading Locally, Competing Globally: Measuring the University of Wollongong’s Contribution to Economic and Social Prosperity in the Illawarra and Beyond - student spending injected $573 million into the local economy.

“The international student community forms a significant part of this financial contribution to the Illawarra. Additionally they offer myriad opportunity for their contemporaries to embrace new cultural insights and gain greater value from a diverse learning environment,” Professor Frino said.

Destination Wollongong Business Development Manager, Tracey Pascoe shared some highlights students can experience while living in Wollongong.

“For the thrill seekers there’s hang gliding at Bald Hill or for the water lovers, there’s surfing lessons. For those into health and well-being activities, there’s abundance of amazing bush walks, stunning waterfalls, 17 glistening surf beaches and over 60kms of shared cycleway.

“Students may like to rejuvenate with a meditation session at the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere or cuddle up to koalas, feed and pat kangaroos, meet wombats, echidnas and emus at Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh,” Ms Pascoe said.

Adding to the evening’s international flavour, UOW performers entertained the gathering with bush dancing, Vietnamese-themed songs and music by duo, Clocks and Clouds, featuring Kraig Grady and UOW Lecturer in Music, Terumi Narushima.

Their music is generated by acoustic instruments that have been specially re-tuned to play unique microtonal scales based on pure harmonics. These instruments include a re-tuned vibraphone and pump organ, as well as 3D-printed flutes that have been developed through a Global Challenges research project at UOW.

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