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Title: Double-edged sword : how international students on an intensive programme cope with a new national and academic culture where few host culture students exist
Author: Sweeney Bradley, Irene
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 7964
Awarding Body: University of Derby
Current Institution: University of Derby
Date of Award: 2017
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The Work-Based Project (WBP) set out to explore how international students in a Swiss hospitality institution manage to cope with two quite different cultures to where they came from i.e. the Swiss national culture and the British academic culture. Previous research on international students have been in locations where the host culture student is in plentiful supply which is a way to help the international student adjust socioculturally. Within this WBP, the student body is made up of mainly international students and very few Swiss students. Concepts that were used to assist the exploration of this topic include: what influenced the choice of Switzerland and the institution as a place to study, along with how the information was searched for (Mazzarol and Soutar’s, 2002 Push-Pull Model; The Model of International Students’ Preferences by Cubillo, Sánchez and Cerviño, 2006). Hyde’s (2012) adaptation of Oberg’s 1960 stages of adaptation explored culture shock as a concept followed by Berry’s (1997) acculturation and coping strategies. It investigated the use of friendship networks as a way to help students cope in this new environment (Bochner, McLeod and Lin, 1977; Schartner, 2015). These models were used to provide a framework for the questioning used in the gathering of the primary research. The study is applied in nature and using a case study allowed for the exploration of the rich detail that was needed to understand how the international student feels in this environment and how they cope with it in an effort to instigate change as a result of the findings. Focus groups were used as a scoping tool to identify the key themes which were then developed into a questionnaire for distribution among the wider student body. The key findings indicate that reputation of Swiss hospitality education is influential in the decision making of the student. Word of mouth through previous students is a key way for the students to find out the information they believe they need. The findings revealed that the student views both the Swiss and academic culture of the institution as one and the same. The issue of culture shock is difficult to plot as there was such a mix of feelings identified when the decision to come to Switzerland is made and when the student arrives. The friendships that are generated have evolved since the creation of the Bochner et al (1977) Model and Schartner (2015) identified a newer group which could be added to this model i.e. friends back home as a way to help with psychological adjustment. The key conclusions drawn from the research indicate that the students use word-of-mouth to a great extent in preparation for their study abroad however, the information received is informal in nature. Those that used more sources of information felt they arrived more prepared. Friends were referred to throughout the study for many reasons however, the addition of the 4th group of friends i.e. friends back home, were used as a form of escape to cope with the challenges experienced (whether national or academic culture) due to both cultures being viewed as one and the same. Implications of this relate to how information is provided to the potential student Dissemination of the findings to those that prepare the students for their venture e.g. agents and those that have to help the student adjust upon their arrival e.g. institution members so that the student can adapt more quickly in the 18 weeks that they have to feel comfortable in their new environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Academic Culture ; Culture Shock ; Functional Model of Friendship Networks ; Adaptation ; Acculturation