Towards a Better Understanding of Australian Cultural and Social-Emotional Experiences of International Students

Linda Newsome, Ed.D., Mary Helou, PhD


This study examines the cultural and social experiences of international students using data collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews, as part of case studies designed for this purpose. The participants in this study are all full-time international students (n=30), undertaking their educational qualifications at higher education institutions/providers in Sydney, Australia, and coming from Asia, Middle East and Far Eastern countries. As part of the case studies, the individual and personal transitional pathways/journeys of the students are sketched through a four-phase progressive cycle extending from an initial algorithmic/jumbled state, characterised by a crisis situation following the feelings of excitement and high expectations, moving into an experimental phase, characterised by continued culture shock and possibly denial. The student then goes into a transitional phase, characterised by making partial accommodation and adjustments; and, finally, gets into a new algorithmic state, characterised by routinisation, relative stability, acceptance of the new state, settlement and finding of coping mechanisms to handle the new order. Furthermore, the current study considers the way the geographical and social-emotional factors experienced shape the student’s individual experiences, self-concept, capacity to cope with life’s new challenges and level of satisfaction with the overall experience of studying overseas.

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