The amount of international students studying in the UK in 2011-2012 totalled 435,230 which is an increase of 2% from the previous year (UKCISA statistics, 2012). As a student of the University of Essex which has the reputation for being one of the UK’s most internationally diverse universities with students from over 130 countries (University of Essex, 2010) I, myself have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Throughout my first year of study I lived with seven international students from places including Albania, Norway and even India. Being close friends with these individuals has led me to notice differences, as well as similarities in social, academic and cultural views. This has hugely influenced my research topic.
I am interested in finding out about experiences of international students and how they adapt to British University life. By the end of my research I plan to be able to answer the following question:
“To what extent do differences in culture affect how international students adapt to British university life?”
I believe that it is important to understand how international students adapt to English life so that Universities in the future can help make the transition for these students as easy and as welcoming as possible. Going to University itself is a frightening concept, so moving away from your own culture and moving into a country which may be completely different would be absolutely terrifying. I therefore believe that international students should have as much help as possible to help make this process as smooth as possible.
Gu, Schwisfurth and Days book “Learning and Growing in a Foreign Context: Intercultural experiences of international students” focused on first year international students experiences and how they adapted to a different cultural and educational environment (Gu et al, 2010). Throughout their book they speak about a feeling of belonging and otherness or alienation which could prevent international students from involving themselves in the British culture (Gu et al, 2010). This particularly interested me as I am interested in looking at how international students integrate into British University life. The authors revealed the complexities of the student experience with relation to maturation and human development. One of the difficulties that they found to worry international students the most was financial worries which accounted for 61% of problems faced by surveyed international students (Gu et al, 2010). They did however also find that students were happy with their English abilities which I would be interested in observing as from my previous experiences I have found that the language barrier can affect how likely someone is to immerse themselves into the English culture.
Catherine Montgomery on the other hand in her book “Understanding International Student Experience” found that language was the biggest barrier as it reduced the...