Learning and growing in a ‘foreign’ context: intercultural experiences of international students

Gu, Q., Schweisfurth, M. and Day, C. (2010) Learning and growing in a ‘foreign’ context: intercultural experiences of international students. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40(1), pp. 7-23. (doi: 10.1080/03057920903115983)

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Abstract

This paper discusses the background and key findings of a two‐year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded mixed‐method research project (2006–2008) which was designed, within the context of university internationalisation, to provide an investigation of the experiences of first‐year international students during their undergraduate study at four UK higher education institutions. The research explored the complexities of international students' transitional experiences both in terms of their maturation and human development and their intercultural adaptation within a different educational environment and a different culture and society. These two types of transition interactively influenced the nature and process of students' change and development over time. Findings of the research challenge the psychological model of international students' linear intercultural adaptation and point to the presence of a complex set of shifting associations between language mastery, social interaction, personal development and academic outcomes. It is the management of this amalgam which results in intercultural adaptation and the successful reconfiguration of ‘identity’. Moreover, this research suggests that personal, pedagogical and psychological factors are as important as organisational and social cultures in influencing students' adaptation, identity change and ultimate success. The extent and nature of successful change and development can be restricted by the availability of support and the conditions of contact within the environments in which they are engaged.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Schweisfurth, Professor Michele
Authors: Gu, Q., Schweisfurth, M., and Day, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:0305-7925
Published Online:17 August 2009

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