Living in a Parallel Society

International Students and their Friendship Circles

  • Catherine Gomes RMIT University, Australia
Keywords: essay, friendship


Whenever I write an opinion piece in any online media outlet about international students in Australia, I brace myself for the responses that appear in the comments section below the article. Often, a repeated complaint is that international students refuse to engage with local culture and society and hence keep to themselves by hanging out with co-nationals and speaking their native languages. While the general public in Australia does not engage in open conflict with international students over such grievances, they will instead discuss these anonymously online and with each other. Often these grievances have public airing through the media (e.g., Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners episodes “Degrees of Deception,” 2015, and “Cash Cows,” 2019) or for political point scoring by Australian politicians (e.g., Senator Pauline Hanson of the right-wing, nationalist and anti-immigration party One Nation; Kainth, 2018).


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Author Biography

Catherine Gomes, RMIT University, Australia

CATHERINE GOMES, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). Catherine specialises on the social, cultural and communication spaces of transient migrants, especially international students, their wellbeing and their digital engagement. Catherine’s work covers the themes of identity, ethnicity, race, memory and gender. Her books include  Siloed Diversity: Transnational Migration, Social Media and Digital Networks (Palgrave Pivot, 2018) and International student connectedness and identity: transnational perspectives (with Ly Thi Tran, Springer, 2017). 


Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2015. ‘Degrees of Deception,’ Four Corners, broadcast 20 April. Available from:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2019. ‘Cash Cows,’ Four Corners, broadcast 6 May. Available from

Gomes. C. 2015. ‘Negotiating everyday life in Australia: unpacking the parallel society inhabited by Asian international students through their social networks and entertainment media use,’ Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 18, No. 4, 15-536.

Gomes. C. 2017. Transient Mobility and Middle Class Identity: Media and Migration in Australia and Singapore, Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gomes, C., Chang, S., Jacka, L., Coulter, D., Alzougool, B. and Constantinidis. D. 2015. ‘Myth Busting Stereotypes: The Connections, Disconnections and Benefits of International Student Social Networks,’ The 26th ISANA International Education Conference was held in Melbourne, Victoria, 1-4 December at the Pullman on the Park,

Kainth, S. 2018. International Students should have no work rights: Pauline Hanson,’ SBS Punjabi, 10 April. Available from:

How to Cite
Gomes, C. (2020). Living in a Parallel Society. Journal of International Students, 10(1), xiii-xv.
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