International students´ experiences of cultural differences in Sweden

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International students´ experiences of cultural differences in Sweden

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Publication Student thesis
Title International students´ experiences of cultural differences in Sweden
Author(s) Henriksgård, Madelene
Date 2011
English abstract
The research study aims at exploring the relationship between international students’ motivational factors to study abroad and the choice of Malmö University, Sweden, considering each student’s main “push” and “pull” factors. The research study seeks to examine the international students’ experiences of cultural differences while studying in Sweden. Furthermore, the study investigates whether the international students cultural identity are being reinforced or weakened. Not much previous research on international students´ motivations, cultural differences and cultural identity has been done; however, some related researches provided me with knowledge and acted as guidelines for the research study. The research study is based on an inductive, qualitative research method, and the data was collected through semi-structured and focus group interviews. In respect of the implications to define culture and cultural identity the data will be explored through a theoretical framework of intercultural communication and the theory of asserted and assigned identity and thick and thin identity, respectively. The findings of the research study showed different motivational factors affecting the international students’ reason to choose study outside their origin country. The cultural differences experienced were explained as being caused by everyday encounters in the Swedish society and educational system. The students studied experienced that their cultural belonging became more evident as they were living in Sweden. I believe that an unfamiliar social surrounding, along with the circumstance of being international students in a society that is different from the one at home, make culture and cultural identity more important and evident to the people living there.
Swedish abstract
Syftet med uppsatsen är att undersöka internationella studenters motivationsfaktorer för att studera utomlands och deras val av Malmö högskola, Sverige. Uppsatsen undersöker kulturella skillnader som de internationella studenterna upplever när de studerar i Sverige och om de upplever att deras kulturella identitet förstärks eller försvagas. Uppsatsen baseras på en induktiv, kvalitativ metod. För att få en djupare förståelse av de internationella studenternas situation och erfarenheter utfördes både individuella intervjuer och gruppintervjuer. I teoriavsnittet definieras begreppen kultur, kulturell identitet och interkulturell kommunikation samt begreppen asserted respektive assigned identitet och thick respektive thin identitet. Studiens resultat visade hur olika motivationsfaktorer påverkade de internationella studenternas val att studera utomlands, att kulturella skillnader blev tydliga genom vardagliga möten i det svenska samhället och på högskolan, och att studenternas kulturella identiteter visade sig vara mer markerade under studenternas vistelse i Sverige. Jag menar att en ny omgivning påverkar de internationella studenterna, och att deras kultur och kulturella identiteter blir mer påtagliga.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) international students
push-pull factors
intercultural communication
cultural differences
cultural idenity
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