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Title: 'Radical changes in appearance, religiouness, language and openess' amongst a small group of Malaysian students : rethinking the intercultural
Author: Zaharin, I.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 2032
Awarding Body: Canterbury Christ Church University
Current Institution: Canterbury Christ Church University
Date of Award: 2019
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This study investigates what a small group of Malaysian students choose to communicate when asked to reflect on their intercultural experience of living in the United Kingdom during their academic sojourn. It reveals that ‘appearance’, ‘being religious’, ‘language’ and ‘openness’ are phrases, which some of them use, and which seem to encapsulate as sense of radical change. The term ‘radical’ is used by the researcher in this study because it seems best to express the sense of extreme change which each of them both talk about and display in their appearance and behaviour. The initial objective of this study was to attempt to gain insights into the research participants’ intercultural experience of living in the UK. However, once the study had begun, it became clear to me that my initial positionality which was influenced by my own background and experiences did not match the participants’ understanding of the intercultural and was limiting the ways I was interpreting the data. Because of this, I began to question and re-evaluate the data I had collected. For example, I realised that at the beginning of the study, I was focusing on what I saw and heard from the participants as the result of culture shock. After the event of interviews, it became apparent to me that not only have I found out about how the participants feel about things and how they represent themselves but also my own development on how I think about them. I began to notice that what I was saying was also important and that this represented a development of how I myself was thinking. Furthermore, my analysis from my field notes would often question the assumptions underlying my own recording of data after they had been written for some time, such as what I had meant by ‘my participant looks stunning’ or ‘my participant looks stylish’, consequently making me aware of the necessity to display my role in the research process more clearly. As a result of these incidents and having become more aware of the evolution of my thinking, I began to further question and consider my position and direction of research. For this reason, I began to explore the idea of including a small element of autoethnographic in the study. Consequently, what developed out of this study is not what I envisaged before, but something quite different: narratives of total interview experience of which my voice is part. The study as a whole is therefore ethnographic in terms of attempting to understand what a small group of Malaysian students chose to say when asked about their intercultural experience using interview, Facebook observation and field note data with an autoethnographic dimension to acknowledge the influence of my own perspective in understanding participants’ personal stories. It brings into focus how I, as a researcher, through re-evaluating my own data and as a result gaining greater insight into my own positioning, was able to gain better understanding of interculturality and the complexity of individuals’ personal journeys, and in the light of this to encourage readers to look deeper when dealing with unfamiliar settings in order to understand people and be cautious of the imaginary discourses that represent them. It has implications for intercultural researchers to understand interculturality in general. It also has implications for all of us in terms of the need to understand the intercultural realities rather than to make hasty judgments about one another based on profound and influential discourses that are locked into global politics, particularly when we encounter people and practices in unfamiliar cultural settings. Additionally, this study can have implications for those interested to promote global citizenship at university level and more broadly by examining students’ experience of interculturality and that through this, to develop a more nuanced understanding of this and a better sense of what it is that needs to be taught and in what way. This study may therefore be of interest to researchers, educators, students as well as everyone in general who are interested to understand intercultural communication and to disentangle intercultural problems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Malaysian students ; Intercultural experience ; United Kingdom