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Culture Shock or Love at First Sight? Exploring the ‘Honeymoon’ Stage of the International Student Sojourn

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Transcultural Interaction and Linguistic Diversity in Higher Education

Abstract

An issue neglected by researchers and educators is that the ‘international’ student experience goes beyond the time spent abroad and begins before the actual arrival in the host country, with the decision to study abroad. Additionally, research suggests that student sojourners’ immediate reactions to the new environment are important for the success or otherwise of their sojourn, but also that these tend to be far from uniform. Following Kim’s (2001) notion of ‘preparedness for change’, the present study sought to examine whether and, if so, how dispositional ‘pre-arrival’ factors impinge on student sojourners’ subjective well-being in the early sojourn stages. Specifically, we investigated the interrelationships between several predispositional factors — intercultural competence, host language ability, knowledge about the host country, and degree of self-determination in the decision to study abroad — and their predictive value for subjective student well-being in the initial sojourn stage. Our findings suggest that these pre-arrival factors impact significantly on both psychological well-being and satisfaction with life in the early sojourn stages. We also found significant associations among the factors themselves. Our findings helped to illuminate a multi-faceted and fine-grained perspective on the relationships between pre-sojourn and early-stage factors and the quality of international students’ experiences in the crucial early stage of adjustment, and as such are likely to have important implications for future research, and for educators and policy-makers in higher education.

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© 2015 Alina Schartner and Tony Young

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Schartner, A., Young, T. (2015). Culture Shock or Love at First Sight? Exploring the ‘Honeymoon’ Stage of the International Student Sojourn. In: Fabricius, A.H., Preisler, B. (eds) Transcultural Interaction and Linguistic Diversity in Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137397478_2

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