Fresh off the plane, my pale skin shining like a Canadian beacon to the tanned and toned Gold Coast locals, I found myself at a complete loss as to how I was going to connect with anyone in my temporary new home. Cue International Student Orientation during O Week, and a chance meeting with a handful of other Canadian students. I discovered that Griffith had the incredibly active Canadian Students Association (CSA) that was looking to expand its membership base and committee. Applying to serve on the committee was one of the best decisions I made last semester, as through CSA I have had the opportunity to meet some of my best friends, organize and attend hugely successful events, and become much more engaged in my university community. I have not only met fellow Canadian students, either, but have made great connections with members of other cultural clubs and groups.
One of the most important aspects about building a network of friends through a cultural club is that everyone is dealing with the same issues. You come from a shared background, and as such are probably facing similar concerns with living in an entirely new place. Problems like homesickness, missing bottomless diner coffee and real ketchup, and having no way to watch the hockey can be dealt with together, as these are friends who will understand where you are coming from and may even provide a solution. Buddy going home for summer break? Great, you just scored yourself a bottle of Heinz and some Tim Horton’s fine grind. NFL game not being aired on One? Awesome, someone has an NFL game package and is willing to invite everyone over for Football Mondays.
Consider, too, more serious concerns like student loans, housing, bank transfers, health insurance, or even cheap flights. A cultural club can be a fantastic resource for answering questions you may have that pertain to your specific nationality.
Maybe these examples are not necessarily applicable to you, but view it from the point of your own home country. Yes, moving to Australia means it’s important to engage in the local customs and culture, but I cannot emphasize enough that from time to time you will probably miss home and the things that are familiar to you. A support network of individuals who identify with these concerns ensures there is always someone to answer your questions and help you through your homesickness.
3. Fun (and Frugality!)
Personally, the best part of being involved in the Canadian Students Association has been the element of fun. Last semester we threw a huge pool party in conjunction with the Norwegian student group, raised money for charity through various fundraising functions, hosted a Wild Wild West event complete with mechanical bull and cowboy hats, and got involved in GUGC’s inaugural Relay for Life. Club membership entitles you to big discounts for event tickets and ensures that you’ll be the first to know about what is happening with your group.
This semester, CSA has a lot of sweet ideas in the works, including our popular St. Patrick’s event (which saw over 700 attendees last year!), a gala, hockey games, pub crawls, and a potential island cruise. Check out the CSA Facebook page to keep up to date on what’s happening!
Want to know more?
For a full listing of Griffith’s cultural clubs and societies, visit the Griffith website. Remember: some clubs do not require you to be a certain nationality to join! For instance, CSA accepts membership from anyone, Canadian or not, while other clubs may be more stringent in their regulations. Take a look and see where you can get involved!