Life Outside your Comfort Zone

The Power of Reflection for Cultural Adjustment




academic mobility, cultural adjustment, faculty transition, international faculty, minority faculty, reflection, transnational scholar


This reflective paper explores the different experiences of two higher education professionals who utilized intentional reflection to help with the transition to new countries and cultural environments. One story focuses on how the higher education professional grappled with different challenges even though her new environments afforded her a novel privilege of membership in a racial and religious majority. The other higher education professional’s story discusses her transition from life as a member of the majority to a member of the minority in a different religious and racial context. The paper concludes by sharing recommendations for how other higher education professionals can utilize reflection (Dewey, 1993; Rodgers, 2002) to help with a transition and cultural adjustment in a new environment.

Author Biographies

Jobila Sy, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates

JOBILA SY, Ed.D is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Zayed University. Prior to this position, she served as an associate professor at American University of Antigua: College of Medicine (West Indies) and as the Director of Academic Advising at the College of William and Mary (USA). Her research interests include international higher education, multicultural education, cultural competence, student development theory and academic advising.

Natalie Cruz, Old Dominion University, USA

NATALIE CRUZ is a current PhD student studying international higher education at Old Dominion University. Prior to the PhD program, she was a faculty advisor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and the Director of International Student Life at Emory University. Her research is focused on changing modes of global student mobility, the importance of entrepreneurialism for international education leaders, and other transnational education issues.


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How to Cite

Sy, J., & Cruz, N. (2019). Life Outside your Comfort Zone: The Power of Reflection for Cultural Adjustment. Journal of International Students, 9(4), 1203–1208.