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Asian Students Abroad: Missing the Boat of Adaptation?

  • Regis MachartEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Encounters between East and West book series (EEWIP)

Abstract

Asian international students in the ‘West’ are often represented as deficient Others whose adaptation to the new environment is problematic. Framed within a Confucian heritage culture, some participants who are reported to lack interaction with locals become representatives of a whole community. On the other hand, institutional bodies and universities in the ‘West’ who rely heavily on Asian international students to maintain a wide range of courses reinforce notions of a difficult adaptation and insist on the imminence of a culture shock. They also spread the idea of the necessity to ‘meet the [Western] locals’ who, in turn, are framed within a stereotypical representation of ‘diversity’, openness and tolerance. An analysis of the narratives of a few Asian international students reveals that their expectations reiterate a widespread essentialising discourse in the field of academic mobility. Faced with representations of a solid culture in relation to the host population, the discourses of these students lack clarity in the meaning-making of their experience abroad, particularly when adaptation is concerned. They both maintain clear-cut boundaries and express the desire to become the idealised Others that only exist in their imagination. Even when the process can be deemed successful, participants express failure. The adaptation of mobile students to the ‘West’ is presented as an idealistic, utopian goal which can only lead to disillusionment. Thus, there is a need to relativise hegemonic discourses which insist on an encounter between two culturally opposed environments in order to integrate more individual fluidity.

Keywords

Student mobility Culture shock Student adaptation Essentialising discourses 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. and Higher Education Press 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia

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