Intercultural experience and the process of psychological adjustment : a case study of Japanese students in England
As a consequence of the increases in the number of international students and because of growing interests in multicultural issues in counselling, there has been much discussion of the psychological influence of studying abroad and support systems for international students from different research perspectives. This thesis, using a combination of a quantitative and a qualitative methodology, examines the psychological adjustment process of international students to a host environment within Rogers' person-centred counselling framework. In Rogers' personality theory, a potential for positive change in individuals and influences of environments on the self structure are main concepts. In this study, therefore, I focus on international students' potentials for positive change and the influences of their host environment on those changes. The principal aims of this thesis are (i) to explore international students’ psychological experience during their study abroad, (іі) to investigate the psychological influences of intercultural experiences on them and (ііі) to seek support strategies which facilitate them to be effective as a student and as a resident abroad. Longitudinal research over one year was conducted with two cohorts of Japanese undergraduate students in England between 1998 and 2000, using questionnaires and in-depth interviews focusing on imagery and metaphors. The questionnaires (N=70) investigated students' past experiences in foreign countries, motivations, daily experiences, feelings, psychological experiences, interactions with others, psychological states (adjustment level) and self image, including self-evaluation of English proficiency. The interviews (N=17) covered similar contents, however, explored more in depth. The findings of the research show that although the year abroad is a challenging experience for many students, it can be beneficial to their positive changes, i.e., personal growth and acquisition of intercultural competence. Some possibilities are suggested for an effective support system to enhance an experience which can be either positive or negative and provided by those who work with international students.