UM International Night –
Cultural Differences in Mutual Understanding 

Text: Shakhawat Hossain Shuvoraj
Photo: Shakhawat Hossain Shuvoraj、with some provided by Global Affairs Office

Hello! Óla! Konnichiwa! 你好… We may not speak of these languages every day, but we may come across them when meeting new friends. To facilitate understanding and foster cultural diversity, the Global Affairs Office (GAO) of the University of Macau (UM) held the International Night, which was attended by students from Europe, Asia, Africa, and other countries.

The International Night is an annual event that brings together exchange students, alumni of different exchange programmes, and exchange advisors to share experiences and celebrate cultural diversity. While enjoying the delightful environment, participants can learn first-hand advice on overseas studies, pre-departure tips, and exchange experiences from students and advisors. The event attracted more than 250 students from different countries. They learned from one another by singing, dancing, as well as presentations delivered by exchange students and advisors. The GAO also set up a dozen booths to provide information for students interested in participating in exchange programmes.

International students attend the International Night

Easy to Adjust to the Culture in Macao

Joao Sousa, an exchange student from Portugal who studies in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, enjoyed the event very much. He said, ‘Since I am a Portuguese, it is really easy for me to adjust to the culture of Macao in which both Portuguese and Macao share so much in common.’  He hopes more students from Portugal will join the exchange programme in Macao and feel the same as he did.

Diversity in Food

Muhammad Jameel, a Pakistani PhD student from the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), was excited about coming to Macao. He thinks UM is more organised than other institutions he has experienced before. ‘Macao is a multi-cultural place which has always held an attraction for me,’ he said. ‘But I am not quite used to the food in Macao.’ Another PhD student from the same faculty named Muhammad Farhan shared Jameel’s sentiments on food. Farhan comes from India and he hopes there will be more restaurants on campus to offer more choices.

A singing performance

A Breakthrough in Cultural Barriers

Dr Uma Gaur from the FHS comes from India. She expressed her satisfaction with this event. ‘It is really a good opportunity to meet different people in Macao – a small but culturally diverse city,’ she said. ‘I am  happy to have the chance to live in Macao and experience both Asian and foreign lifestyles.’ Cultural barriers do not pose a problem to her because Macao is a globalised city, and she can easily adapt to the environment. She has also made some friends at UM who are always willing to help her.

A Window to a New World

Apart from international students,  local students also attended the UM International Night. Alexa Martinez, a local student from the Department of Communication, Faculty of Social Sciences, and a member of Shiu Pong College, said, ‘It is amazing to see so many international students dressed in their traditional clothes. They shared their customs and experiences with us.’ Martinez will visit the United States in the next semester under an exchange programme, and already she has made some friends from the USA who told her about college life in their country. She thinks that UM is developing rapidly, providing a platform to connect students from around the world. She looks forward to working with student organisations to hold more such international events at UM.

Booths have been set up to provide
information on exchange programmes

The International Night provided an opportunity for students, faculty and staff from different countries to share their cultures and study abroad experiences at UM, and to celebrate the integration between people with different backgrounds. It also helped to pave the way for making UM a global hub for education.

Muhammad Farhan(left) and Muhammad Jameel (right)

GAO is committed to enhance the internationalization of the University by establishing a strategic international network and partnership for the University. GAO offers a wide range of exchange programmes including semester exchange programmes, international internship programmes, summer programmes and student outbound activities. Last year, the university sent out around 350 students abroad to join exchange programmes and study abroad programmes, and most of them gained fruitful experiences. UM has signed student exchange cooperation with 142 institutions in 28 countries all over the world, including China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, USA, Portugal, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Bazil and more. GAO also offers advice and guidance to faculties, departments, and other internal units of the University in establishing international partnerships, students and staff exchanges, joint academic and research collaborations, and agreement signing both at the faculty level and to University level. For more details on exchange programmes, please visit GAO’s website: http://www.umac.mo/gao/index.php