"You belong here!" Personal reflections of an international student

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International student numbers in many universities globally are increasing rapidly. Social media profiles these ‘university cities’ as study and tourism destinations. They offer prospective students a promising and supportive academic environment and capture their visual and sensory imaginations. University collaborations and exchange programmes have also expanded to include joint, dual and exchange programmes in a student’s curricular experience. Amidst the backdrop of neoliberalism, where reduced state intervention and funding have compelled universities to pursue market-driven approaches, the need to interrogate the universities’ role in providing adequate and ‘hospitable’ services to welcome new students becomes imperative.

I will reflect on my experiences as an international student and my experiences of isolation, precarity and vulnerability during the COVID-19 crisis. I will also share how I came to engage, know and understand my host community. Beyond traditional orientation and briefing programmes offered in schools, some relevant questions remain. How can our curriculum assist in acknowledging and addressing the ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’, and ‘uncertainty’ students feel in the host communities? What self-directed approaches can students apply when joining and organising new communities? What role does ethnicity play in celebrating their culture, heritage and identity? How are these experiences and memories presented to the individuals and communities they interact with? And finally, what can the place and its people teach our international students as well?

This lightning talk hopes to uncover and reflect on some of these questions as I examine the collaboration between academia and students for a meaningful and hospitable international student experience. Using photovoice as my presentation medium, I would like to present my journey of interrogation and emancipatory learning, which inspired me to continue building the community of Filipinos and our ongoing integration with the migrant communities, particularly in Glasgow.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023
EventImagining and Experiencing Hospitalities in a Mobile World - Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 May 202331 May 2023


ConferenceImagining and Experiencing Hospitalities in a Mobile World
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • International student
  • Philippines
  • Higher education
  • Online learning
  • postgraduate
  • reflections


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