Home Away from Home: International Students and their Identity-Based Social Networks in Australia


  • Catherine Gomes RMIT University, Australia
  • Marsha Berry RMIT University, Australia
  • Basil Alzougool University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Shanton Chang University of Melbourne, Australia




international students, social networks, identities, Australia


This paper explores the role of identity in helping international students form social networks at an Australian institution and how these networks contribute to creating a sense of home away. The findings suggest that international students form distinct social networks that are not necessarily solely made up of fellow students from their home countries. Rather, international students form a mixture of social networks that are based on the complex individual identities of each student centred on a variety of common factors, such as: course of study, place of work, neighbourhood, culture, religion and personal interests (hobbies). Hence many students are part of social groups that consist of international students from their specific region and beyond, as well as local (Anglo and non-Anglo) students. These locally based social networks complement existing home-based networks which are maintained virtually through social media to create a home away from home.

Author Biographies

Catherine Gomes, RMIT University, Australia

Dr. Catherine Gomes is an Australian Research Council Early Career Research Fellow based at RMIT University. Catherine has researched and published in the areas of gender, ethnicity and identity in Asian cinemas and societies. Her current research is a comparative study of identity amongst transient migrants in Australia and Singapore.

Marsha Berry, RMIT University, Australia

Dr. Marsha Berry's current research investigates social media cultures, and narratives of place and landscape. Her approach is ethnographic. She has published extensively in these fields. She is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Basil Alzougool, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Basil Alzougool received his Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Public Administration from the University of Jordan, Jordan, and his PhD from the Department of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne in 2010 where he is currently a Research Fellow. He has extensive research interests in information needs and behaviour, online social networking, health informatics, and e-commerce and has several international academic publications including journal and conference papers.

Shanton Chang, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Shanton Chang is a senior lecturer at the Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne. His research areas include information needs, social technologies, and young people's online behavior. He is also actively involved in Australia's professional associations in international education - ISANA International Education Association and the International Education Association of Australia.




How to Cite

Gomes, C., Berry, M., Alzougool, B., & Chang, S. (2014). Home Away from Home: International Students and their Identity-Based Social Networks in Australia. Journal of International Students, 4(1), 2–15. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v4i1.493



Research Articles