Intercultural communication experiences of foreign students with a focus on their perspectives of national, cultural and ethnic identity : case of exchange and degree students in Jyväskylä, Finland
The aim of the study is to learn about intercultural communication experiences of foreign Exchange and Master degree students in Jyväskylä, Finland with a particular attention to the perspective of national, cultural and ethnic identity concepts. The study is qualitative in nature. The goal in creating the interview themes was to cover a variety of topics to allow the informants to speculate on different situations related to intercultural communication experiences in Jyväskylä, their country of origin and their national, cultural and ethnic identity. To reach the diverse perspectives on the subject individuals of different cultural origin were interviewed. The interview group involved Exchange and Degree students coming from South Korea, Germany, Nigeria, China, Taiwan and Cyprus. The informants arrived to Finland 7-8 month prior to the interview. The results indicate that interviewed students in most of the cases felt excitement on arrival to Finland. Entrance into a new culture was not accompanied by a culture shock. The culture shock occurred when students experienced culture fatigue and language shock. However, it is noteworthy that academic environment did not bring challenges to the interviewed students mainly due to the university significant support for international students such as orientation week, tutor program, diverse students’ activities on campus and services offered by international office. Multicultural university environment and communication with people of other cultural background states in contrast to daily interactions with culturally similar individuals at home. Both abstract and culture-specific knowledge about communication with culturally different groups influenced on students’ national identity. In most of the cases, multicultural university environment made students identify and strengthen to certain extent their national identity. At the same time an outsider’s perspective at their native cultures and integration to a new environment brought some changes to students’ behavioral repertoire, language capabilities and orientations. However, individual sense of ethnic, cultural or national identity is a complex ongoing process that develops over time and through communication with others, thus it is never stable and tends to change as society does. ...
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