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Inherited Dreams of ‘the West’: Eastern European Students’ Paths to Denmark

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that student mobility is not open to everyone but has to be learned and socialized. If so, how then can we account for mobility among students whose parents are less experienced travellers, where border crossing was not an integral part of their upbringing? Drawing on an ethnographic study among Central and Eastern European master’s students at a Danish university, this chapter explores some of the factors that make students from post-communist countries pursue an education in Denmark. The students’ explanations indicate how their parents have ‘handed down’ a positive narrative relating to travel to their post-communist-era children, where crossing borders has intrinsic value. The analysis further suggests that the students’ educational mobility and choice of study destination should be understood in relation to a dominant metanarrative of ‘the West’—a progressive place offering a superior mode of existence—that has been cultivated throughout their upbringing. Thus, on a broader level, the chapter highlights how the wanderlust of these students is rooted in a complex process that starts long before they themselves begin to think about studying abroad.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Guth and Gill (2008) make somewhat similar arguments, stating that socio-economic factors and labour market characteristics in the sending and host countries have an influence on mobility decisions, albeit not in the traditional sense of moving abroad to earn more money. Instead, a key pull factor is the level of expenditure on science at foreign educational institutions.

  2. 2.

    The pivotal role played by parents in encouraging their children’s international mobility is also found in an earlier study by Findlay et al. (2017), which suggested that an interest in an international studies and lifestyle is not only motivated by students but also, in some cases, strongly structured by parents.

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted as a part of a broader research project, Internationalisation and Social Practice within the Field of Danish Higher Education, funded by the Danish Independent Research Council (FKK).

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Correspondence to Mette Ginnerskov-Dahlberg .

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Ginnerskov-Dahlberg, M. (2021). Inherited Dreams of ‘the West’: Eastern European Students’ Paths to Denmark. In: Cairns, D. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Youth Mobility and Educational Migration . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64235-8_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64235-8_5

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