Come from away, far away: the lived experience of international students in a predominantly homogeneous host culture

Moores, Lisa Connor (2013) Come from away, far away: the lived experience of international students in a predominantly homogeneous host culture. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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International students face a variety of challenges and triumphs over the course of their cross-cultural transitions. While a body of literature has investigated these experiences within the context of large and culturally diverse urban centres, little research has examined cross-cultural transitions in host sites that lack such diversity and resources. This paper explores the lived experience of nine international students in a small urban centre with a relatively homogeneous host culture that has not traditionally been a receiving site for international newcomers. Purposeful sampling was employed to assemble a diverse group of international undergraduate and graduate students and two in-depth individual interviews were conducted with each participant. An empirical phenomenological methodology (Colaizzi, 1978) was utilized to provide a rich description of the lived experiences of these participants as they crossed cultures. A total of 516 significant statements regarding experiences deemed important, hindering, or facilitative by the participants were extracted from individual interview transcripts. Participant checks, during which participant feedback on authenticity of findings was invited, were completed at the individual and group levels. Eight thematic clusters emerged from this data: (a) Influence of Host Environmental Context, (b) Influence of Academic Context, (c) Process of Cross-Cultural Transition, (d) Language Challenges, (e) Supportive Relationships, (f) Meeting Across Cultures, (g) lntrapersonal Factors, and (h) Personal Significance. Thirty-one themes were found within these clusters. Major findings discussed include endorsement of an immersion strategy toward acculturation, proactive and creative means of connecting with the host community, the importance of positive experiences with locals as a facilitative factor, the personal transition accompanying cross-cultural transition, heavy academic workloads as a barrier to availing of support services, a dearth of international perspective within the host curriculum and academic environment, and an indication that international student participants at the host location may not be true sojourners (temporary residents for study purposes), but fall into a pre-immigrant category. A consideration of how this research fits with studies of international student transition in larger centres, implications for postsecondary institutions and the mental health services that support these academic sojourners, in addition to future research directions, are provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 11074
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 196-215).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 2013
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Students, Foreign--Psychology--Cross-cultural studies; Intercultural communication--Psychological aspects; College students--Psychology--Cross-cultural studies.

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