“Sorry, I am Concentrating on my Study”: The Lived Experience of International Social Work Students in Shared Accommodation in South Australia



International students, Social work, Shared accommodation, Rooming houses, Study, Australia


Having international students is beneficial to Australian social work education; benefits include creating learning opportunities about cultural diversity and improving Australian universities’ status on the global stage. Understanding social work students’ overall experience on campus and their lived experience in accommodation outside the campus is important to maintain students’ retention in social work education. However, in the Australian literature of social work education, knowledge of international students’ experience in their accommodation is inadequate. Therefore, to fill the research gap, this study focused on the livedexperience of international social work students living in rooming houses in South Australia. Three international social work students participated in this study. They were interviewed once using a semi-structured interview to share their descriptive lived experiences. An interpretative phenomenological approach was used to analyse the qualitative data. Five themes emerged from the data analysis: struggling to share space with housemates; struggling to interact and maintain relationships with housemates; feeling powerless as a tenant; lack of control over the noisy environment; and similarities among housemates helped to build positive relationships and enhance studying. The findings showed that living in rooming houses impacted students’ study time and caused distress, affecting learning. This research suggests that educators need to understand international students’ off-campus experiences, and plan off-campus support services to assist their study.

Author Biographies

Tsang Pak Kit, University of South Australia

University of South Australia, 111, Whyalla Norrie, Whyalla Campus, South Australia, 5608, Australia

Kalpana Goel, University of South Australia

University of South Australia, 111, Whyalla Norrie, Whyalla Campus, South Australia, 5608, Australia 


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