How Do South American International Students Experience Student Life in Flanders? A Photo Elicitation Project

  • Qingchun Wang KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Steffanie Leen KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Karin Hannes KU Leuven, Belgium
Keywords: adjustment, challenges, internationalization, photo elicitation, South America

Abstract

Millions of tertiary international students are studying abroad, and the number of exchange students continues to increase. We explored experiences of South American students studying in a non-Anglophone context. A photo elicitation methodology was applied to support data collection. Five participants were asked to visualize their challenges in their adjustment in pictures. We conducted individual interviews where images were used as prompts to narratives. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Three main themes were identified: socio-cultural adjustment, academic adjustment, and psychological adjustment. Our data suggest that adjustment processes do not automatically lead to an adaptation outcome. Individual factors such as students’ acculturation strategies and coping mechanisms, and situational variables like social interaction and cultural discomfort affect their adjustment.

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Author Biographies

Qingchun Wang, KU Leuven, Belgium

QINGCHUN WANG is a PhD student affiliated to the Social Research Methodology Group from the Centre for Sociological Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven. Her research interest is in the development of qualitative research methods, mainly in the area of visual research methods. She currently plugs her methodological experiments into a series of studies on acculturation processes of international students.

Steffanie Leen, KU Leuven, Belgium

STEFFANIE LEEN was a master student from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven. She was involved in the data collection and analytical phase of this project. She is now working in a  Journal of International Student 768 Flemish expertise center supporting vulnerable children, young adults, and their parents with school affairs and integration in society. 

Karin Hannes, KU Leuven, Belgium

KARIN HANNES, PhD, is an associate professor at the Social Research Methodology Group from the Centre for Sociological Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven. Her main research interest is in developing, applying, and refining approaches to qualitative evidence synthesis. She is co-convener of the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Research Group and authored several books on metasynthesis approaches. On a primary research level, she has been focusing on the use and further development of arts-based and multi-sensory research methods in the context of working with vulnerable populations.

Published
2018-04-01
How to Cite
Wang, Q., Leen, S., & Hannes, K. (2018). How Do South American International Students Experience Student Life in Flanders? A Photo Elicitation Project. Journal of International Students, 8(2), 742-768. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v8i2.102
Section
Research Articles