Living and learning as an international postgraduate student at a Midlands university
journal contributionposted on 03.04.2014, 11:46 by Hugh Busher, Gareth Lewis, Chris Comber
This paper investigates the views of 20 full-time international postgraduate students, many of whom were Chinese, on living, learning and becoming successful students at one university in a multicultural city in the Midlands of England. The qualitative study built on findings from the International Students’ Barometer (ISB) survey for the university, in that it seeks to understand how students’ experience of context (living) interacted with their experience of learning in building their identities as successful learners. Student participants were sampled opportunistically within a purposive framework. Data was collected through audio-recorded individual semi-structured interviews, using as a stimulus participant-constructed concept maps of their perceptions of learning in the university and living in the city. Interview data were transcribed and analysed thematically. The main findings showed that participants enjoyed living in a city with an international culture, although some found it strange initially because they encountered different styles of life and food, albeit including some that they enjoyed at home. They welcomed studying at a university with high international prestige, a wide range of excellent facilities and generally approachable tutors but were shocked by having to undertake unfamiliar styles of independent learning with brief teaching hours. They perceived culture shock as transitional, which declined as they made friends, often with co-linguists, and became familiar with life in the city, work in the university and the extensive support of tutors.