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The experience of international students : exploration through drawings and interviews Ishii, Eriko 1997

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The Experience of International Students: Exploration through Drawings and Interviews by ERIKO ISHII B.A., University of Sacred Heart, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 1997 September 1997 © Eriko I s h i i , 1997 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Cl__P The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada D a t e Ac*- °\l DE-6 (2/88) ii Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of the international students' adjustment processes through drawings and in-depth interviews. A q u a l i t a t i v e approach was used to guide the data c o l l e c t i o n and analysis. Data were c o l l e c t e d through in-depth semi-structured interviews with a volunteer sample of f i v e graduate international students. The interviews aimed to obtain accounts and drawings that describe t h e i r experiences of the i n i t i a l period i n Canada and present l i v e s as well as th e i r wishes for the future. Audio taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed based on the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological (EPP) method proposed by Karlsson (1993). The analysis was validated f i r s t by a fellow researcher, and secondly through v a l i d a t i o n interviews with the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The re s u l t s revealed a number of common and unique themes that were grouped under the following three dynamics: emotional, external, and behavioural. The results suggest that i n t e r n a t i o n a l students experienced various challenges during the i n i t i a l period of being i n Canada, and these challenges resulted i n feelings such as nervousness, fear, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of i n v i s i b i l i t y , and excitement. Description of t h e i r present l i v e s indicated that they had adjusted to and were comfortable with t h e i r new l i v e s i n Canada. These themes and each p a r t i c i p a n t ' s story were v i s u a l l y depicted i n t h e i r drawings. I l l The implication of these results i s that i n t e r n a t i o n a l students are l i k e l y to benefit from counselling interventions p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the beginning of th e i r time i n Canada. Counsellors may u t i l i z e drawings for advantages revealed i n t h i s study; drawings may enable counsellors to understand these students' experiences from the perspectives of these students and to transcend c u l t u r a l b a r r i e r s . Furthermore, the r e s u l t s h i g h l i g h t the importance of considering in t e r n a t i o n a l students as ind i v i d u a l s with strengths, and treating each i n d i v i d u a l ' s experience as unique while being aware of the common struggles many of these students face. F i n a l l y , t h i s study encourages further research i n order to broaden our understanding of inte r n a t i o n a l students' experiences. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Table of Contents i v Acknowledgements v i i CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION Introduction 1 D e f i n i t i o n of Terms 4 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW Theoretical Perspectives on Adjustment 6 Experience of International Students 14 Use of Art as a Communication Tool 18 Summary 22 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY Research Design 25 Personal Assumptions 26 Selection of Participants ....27 Data C o l l e c t i o n 29 Structure of the Data C o l l e c t i o n Interview 30 P i l o t Interviews 33 Drawing Material 34 Researcher's Impressions of the Interviews 34 Data Analysis 36 Summary 39 CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS Stories of Each Participant 40 Miguel 40 V Lucy 47 V i c t o r i a 55 Jamie 63 Katherine 70 Summary of Common Themes 75 Table 1. Summary of Themes 76 Moving In - Antic i p a t i o n Period (A) Emotional Dynamics . 78 (B) External Dynamics.... 78 (C) Behavioural Dynamics 79 Moving Through - The I n i t i a l Period (A) Emotional Dynamics 80 (B) External Dynamics 86 (C) Behavioural Dynamics 89 Moving Out - Present L i f e (A) Emotional Dynamics 91 (B) External Dynamics 94 (C) Behavioural Dynamics 96 Ideal Future L i f e 97 Results of Sentence Completion Questionnaire 99 Summary 101 CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION Introduction 103 Integrating Current and Previous Research Implications for Adjustment Theory 104 Concerns and Feelings of International Students 108 v i Coping Strategies of International Students 112 Use of Drawings with International Students 113 P r a c t i c a l Implications for Helping International Students... 114 Limitations and Implications for Future Research 117 Conclusion 120 References 122 Appendix A. Participant Consent Form 129 Appendix B. Guided Imagery Scripts 130 Appendix C. Sample Questions of Data C o l l e c t i o n Interview... 133 Appendix D. Sentence Completion Questionnaire 134 Appendix E. Miguel's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e . . . . 136 Appendix F. Miguel's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 137 Appendix G. Lucy's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e 138 Appendix H. Lucy's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 139 Appendix I. V i c t o r i a ' s Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e . . 140 Appendix J. V i c t o r i a ' s Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 141 Appendix K. Jamie's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e 142 Appendix L. Jamie's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 143 Appendix M. Katherine's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e . 144 Appendix N . Katherine's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 145 Appendix 0. Summary of Unique Themes 14 6 Appendix P. Responses on Sentence Completion Questionnaires. 151 V l l ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My h e a r t f e l t appreciation goes to the pa r t i c i p a n t s of thi s study who shared t h e i r struggles and hopes with me. Drawing and t a l k i n g about one's l i f e experience with a stranger i s not an easy task, yet these participants took time and explained what they went through with a great deal of patience. I t r u l y f e e l honoured to be the one to receive these s t o r i e s . I would l i k e to express my appreciation for my supervisor, Dr. Norman Amundson, for respecting my wishes and needs. His "student-centred" style i n supervision helped me b u i l d s e l f -confidence as a researcher, and his timely advice and insight enabled me to stay focused. I would also l i k e to acknowledge Dr. John A l l a n for his warm support and valuable suggestions, and Dr. Carl Leggo for his knowledge and expertise. F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to thank my friends and family who gave me enough space to work through t h i s project. I would p a r t i c u l a r l y l i k e to thank Christopher Gray who not only provided me with support and reassurance but also proofread every single page of my thesis. Thank you, Christopher, and a l l of my friends and family. Without a l l of you, thi s would not have been possible. 1 Chapter One Introduction The need for research on international students i s c r i t i c a l given the fact that the number of such students has dramatically increased during the past decade. The number of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students i n Canadian u n i v e r s i t i e s has jumped from 30,472 i n 1985 to 37,478 i n 1992 ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1992). In 1992, nearly half (49.8%) of these students were from Asia while European students constituted the second largest group of 16.3% ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1992) . Because o.f the large distance between t h e i r home cultures and Canadian culture, the non-European students face substantial adjustment challenges (Heikinheimo & Shute, 1986) . The p o l i c i e s of the Canadian government have aff e c t e d the l i v e s of these international students. Since the Ontario government increased t u i t i o n fees for international students to twice the amount paid by Canadian students i n 1977, other provinces have followed this example (Mickle & Chan, 198 6). Subsequently, the Canadian immigration decided to f o r b i d the employment of international students (Mickle & Chan, 1986). Although the regulation has become somewhat more leni e n t since then and currently allows international students to obtain employment on campus, higher t u i t i o n fees and a lack of employment opportunities continue to be a source of stress for many int e r n a t i o n a l students (Canadian Bureau for International Education [CBIE], 1989). Furthermore, t h i s f i n a n c i a l constraint 2 l e d to a greater pressure for academic success since many international students r e l i e d on t h e i r family for f i n a n c i a l support (Mickle & Chan, 1986) . There i s an expectation and pressure to perform well because of the f i n a n c i a l support they receive from t h e i r family. These government p o l i c i e s may be a r e f l e c t i o n of a general misconception that international students bring no benefit for Canadian u n i v e r s i t i e s , l e t alone for a larger society (Mickle & Chan, 1986). However, international students add an important component to a Canadian society (Mickle & Chan, 1986) . Benefits to Canadian society from international students include enrichment of the learning environment (Heikinheimo & Shute, 1986), contribution i n establishing a c u l t u r a l , economic, and diplomatic bridges to th e i r home countries (Heikinheimo & Shute, 1986; Mickle & Chan, 1986;, Sims & Stelcner, 1981), and enhancing understanding and acceptance of people from d i f f e r e n t cultures (Sims & Stelcner, 1981). Heikinheimo and Shute (1986) further suggest that encouraging international students i n Canada can mean reciprocal treatment for Canadian students abroad. Pedersen (1991) indicates that the presence of international students contributes to improved international r e l a t i o n s and consequently world peace, because more knowledge leads to more empathy. Thus, Heikinheimo and Shute (1986) conclude, i t i s important to deepen understanding of these students' experiences. International students are often confronted with adjustment challenges. These challenges concern such areas as academics, 3 communication, finances, interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and c u l t u r a l differences (Pedersen, 1991; Wehrly, 1988) . Sometimes these challenges translate into somatic symptoms. Ebbin and Blankenship (1988) reported that international students-had a higher frequency of the ten most common concerns such as anxiety, g a s t r i t i s , headache, and insomnia when compared with l o c a l students. Gunn (1988) suggests that international students are prone to stress for reasons including r a c i a l d i s c r imination, separation from family and friends, language b a r r i e r s , and dietary changes. Despite these challenges, international students r a r e l y u t i l i z e helping resources available to them (CBIE, 1989; Ogbudimkpa, Creswell, Lambert, & Kingston, 1988). In a 1988 survey, 66% of international students i n Canada reported to have never used the student counselling services during the past academic year (CBIE, 1989). Furthermore, there i s a sense of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n among international students; 70% of p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the 1988 survey f e l t international students centers were not he l p f u l (CBIE, 1989) . Ogbudimkpa et a l (1988) reported that 65% of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students who used the students' health care were not s a t i s f i e d with the service. Through my experience as an international student and by working with international students as a counsellor, I have become increasingly aware of the lack of materials which describe t h e i r experiences from th e i r own point of view. According to Pedersen (1991), international students are often stereotyped as 4 being defenseless and bewildered. In accordance with t h i s notion, the majority of current research adopts a quantitative approach with l i t t l e attention to i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s and the process these individuals follow. Furthermore, even fewer studies have u t i l i z e d v i s u a l images to enhance our understanding of these students' experiences. This study aims to add extensive descriptions and v i s u a l images to the current understanding of in t e r n a t i o n a l students' experiences. The research questions that are addressed i n t h i s study are: (a) What i s the experience of being an in t e r n a t i o n a l student i n Canada? (b) How does t h e i r experience change or not change over time? (c) Can drawings be an aid i n capturing th e i r experiences? The results may contribute to a deeper awareness about the l i v e s of international students i n Canada. Moreover, the information may become one of the b u i l d i n g bricks to e s t a b l i s h more ef f e c t i v e helping resources for these students. D e f i n i t i o n of Terms The key terms used i n t h i s study are defined as follows: International Student - A non-Canadian student who does not have permanent resident status, and as such, has had to receive permission from the Canadian government to enter Canada for purposes of study ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1992, p. 20). Acculturation - The process of adapting to and adopting a new culture (Padilla, Wagatsuma, & Lindholm, 1984, p. 296). C u l t u r a l Distance - The degree of d i s s i m i l a r i t y or s i m i l a r i t y between one's home culture and host culture (Ward & Kennedy, 1993b). Acculturative Stress - A form of stress i n which the stressors are i d e n t i f i e d as having their source i n the process of acculturation (Zheng & Berry, 1991, p. 453) . 6 Chapter Two Literature Review Theoretical Perspectives on Adjustment While the adjustment process of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students has been commonly described as "U-curve" (Brammer, 1991; Cohlho, 1982; Parr, Bradley, & Bingi, 1992; Pedersen, 1991), the construct has been c r i t i c i z e d for various reasons. The U-curve hypothesis was f i r s t introduced by Lysgaard and consists of phases of i n i t i a l excitement, depression, and newly acquired optimism (Brammer, 1991; Pedersen, 1991). Hopson (cited i n Brammer, 1991) further divided these phases into s i x stages of i n i t i a l shock, o s c i l l a t i o n of feelings, minimization, depression, l e t t i n g go, and trying out new options. The U-curve process was also referred to as a period of culture shock (Pedersen, 1991). Culture shock was f i r s t termed by Oberg (1960), and i s defined as "some degree of emotional disturbance when an individual enters an unfamiliar c u l t u r a l environment" (Taft, 1977, p. 139) . Oberg (1966) i d e n t i f i e d six aspects of culture shock: a) stress due to the e f f o r t to adjust; b) a sense of loss and deprivation; c) being rejected by or r e j e c t i n g host nationals; d) role and i d e n t i t y confusion; e) surprise, anxiety, and disgust about c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s ; f) feelings of impotence. If l e f t unattended, these aspects may lead to more serious consequences including depression, i d e n t i t y confusion, insomnia, impaired self-esteem, and psychosomatic symptoms (Coelho, 1982; Taft, 1977). 7 While Oberg contributed to the research on sojourners by providing a the o r e t i c a l basis and by suggesting i t s serious implications, the construct of culture shock has been c r i t i c i z e d for confusing the cause and effects of the adjustment process (Ward & Searle, 1991). Si m i l a r l y , the U-curve hypothesis has been c r i t i c i z e d for overgeneralizing the adjustment process (Ward & Searle, 1991) . Pedersen (1991) points out that the empirical evidence i s equivocal for the U-curve hypothesis and that the hypothesis lacks consideration to mediating variables i n the adjustment process. The hypothesis was not supported i n a study of 165 international students i n New Zealand by Ward and Searle (1991). The longitudinal study of Chinese students i n Canada (Zheng & Berry, 1991) suggests an inverted U-curve, yet the authors caution not to jump to conclusions considering the short duration of t h e i r study (five months). Lu (1990) found that the psychological symptoms tended to decrease over time but homesickness remained stable and l a s t i n g among Chinese students i n B r i t a i n , suggesting the complex nature of the adjustment process. The support of the U-curve hypothesis, therefore, i s inconclusive (Zheng & Berry, 1991). A l t e r n a t i v e l y , several researchers have proposed models that focus on mediating factors i n the adjustment process. Schlossberg (1981) proposes a comprehensive model of adaptation. Schlossberg (1981) suggests that adaptation to t r a n s i t i o n i s a dynamic process during which an individual moves through various 8 stages while being affected by a variety of factors. Transition i s defined as "an event or non-event (which) r e s u l t s i n a change i n assumptions about oneself and the world and thus requires a corresponding change i n one's behaviour and r e l a t i o n s h i p s " (Schlossberg, 1981, p.5). Thus, t r a n s i t i o n can be both negative and p o s i t i v e . A f t e r an individual enters a t r a n s i t i o n , various factors a f f e c t his/her process of trying to adjust to a new s i t u a t i o n (Schlossberg, 1981). Schlossberg recognizes three categories of such variables: characteristics of t r a n s i t i o n , c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the i n d i v i d u a l , and chara c t e r i s t i c s of pre and post t r a n s i t i o n environments. Characteristics of t r a n s i t i o n include factors such as the nature of tra n s i t i o n , timing, and duration, whereas personality, gender, and previous t r a n s i t i o n experience exemplify the i n d i v i d u a l ' s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Pre and post t r a n s i t i o n environments are examined i n terms of support systems (personal and i n s t i t u t i o n a l ) and physical settings (e.g. climate, l i v i n g arrangement, food). According to Schlossberg (1981), adaptation occurs when one moves from being preoccupied with the t r a n s i t i o n to integrating a change as a part of him/herself. The outcome depends on the ind i v i d u a l ' s resources-deficit balance and the degree of difference between the pre and post t r a n s i t i o n environments (Schlossberg, 1981). This explains why the same person reacts d i f f e r e n t l y to diff e r e n t transitions as his/her resources-deficit balance changes throughout his/her l i f e . 9 Schlossberg 1s model takes into account the complex nature of the adjustment process. Not only does the model o u t l i n e the d i r e c t i o n which those i n t r a n s i t i o n generally follow , but i t also helps to explain d i f f e r e n t adjustment experiences for d i f f e r e n t people and for the same i n d i v i d u a l . Berry and Kim (1988) suggest a model i n which acculturative stress i s moderated by factors such as nature of the host society, type of acculturation (e.g. voluntary versus involuntary), demographic ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s of an i n d i v i d u a l , psychological c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of an in d i v i d u a l , and modes of acculturation. Among these, one's attitude towards acculturation i s the most s i g n i f i c a n t predictor of acculturative stress (Ward & Kennedy, 1994) because i t determines the i n d i v i d u a l ' s mode of acculturation. Berry and Kim (1988) i d e n t i f y four such modes: assi m i l a t i o n , separation, integration, and marginalization. These modes are determined by one's attitudes towards maintenance of his/her c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y and intergroup r e l a t i o n s . That i s , those who seek intergroup relations but are unconcerned with maintenance of t h e i r c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y resort to assimilation, while separation occurs when the ind i v i d u a l rejects contacts with host nationals and holds on to his/her c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y . Individuals who value both intergroup contacts and c u l t u r a l maintenance are considered to be integrated, whereas those who reject both w i l l become marginalized. 10 These modes strongly influence the degree of acculturative stress (Berry, Kim, Minde, & Mok, 1987) . Individuals who opt for marginalization and separation experience the greatest stress, while assimilation leads to moderate stress. Integration would be the least s t r e s s f u l option. While this hypothesis has been supported by some cr o s s - c u l t u r a l comparative research (Berry et a l , 1987), Zheng & Berry's study (1991) suggests that the acculturative modes were related to subjective adaptation but not to stress. Berry and Kim's model helps to explain why the c u l t u r a l r e l o c a t i o n can have d i f f e r e n t outcomes for d i f f e r e n t i n d i v i d u a l s . It also highlights the p o s i t i v e aspect of t r a n s i t i o n . That i s , depending on one's attitude towards acculturation, t r a n s i t i o n may be considered as an opportunity for self-growth, thus enhancing one's l i f e (Zheng & Berry, 1991). Ward and Searle (1991) propose a model that consists of two types of adjustment (psychological and sociocultural) which may be best understood from d i f f e r e n t perspectives; namely, psychological adjustment from stress and coping framework, and s o c i o c u l t u r a l adaptation from s o c i a l learning and cognitive perspectives. Psychological adjustment concerns an i n d i v i d u a l ' s psychological and emotional well-being while s o c i o c u l t u r a l adaptation refers to the a b i l i t y to f i t into the l a r g e r society(Ward & Kennedy, 1992, 19.93a, 1993b). Psychological adjustment and sociocultural adaptation r e l a t e to each other but d i f f e r e n t variables predict each of them. 11 Studies have demonstrated that psychological adjustment i s mediated by such factors as personality, l i f e changes, and s o c i a l support (Ward & Kennedy, 1993a) whereas s o c i o c u l t u r a l adaptation i s affected by c u l t u r a l knowledge, c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y (Ward & Searle, 1991) , language a b i l i t y , and length of residence i n the host culture (Ward & Kennedy, 1991). This model contributed to di s t i n g u i s h two types of adjustment and to i d e n t i f y d i f f e r e n t variables that a f f e c t them. For example, Ward and Kennedy (1994) found that a strong c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y was associated with enhanced psychological well-being while i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with host nationals was linked to so c i o c u l t u r a l competence i n New Zealand sojourners. Other researchers have i d e n t i f i e d other moderating factors. Among them, communication has emerged as one of the key factors i n one's adjustment process. Westwood and Barker (1990) reported that contact with host nationals was associated with academic success and lower p r o b a b i l i t y of dropping out of academic programmes for international students i n Canada. S i m i l a r l y , Rohrlich and Martin (1991) found that increased i n t e r a c t i o n with host nationals was correlated with heightened s a t i s f a c t i o n among int e r n a t i o n a l students i n Western Europe. Kagan and Cohen (1990) demonstrated that internationals students who scored high on the acculturation scale tended to speak English at home and have American friends, while those who were lower on an acculturation scale showed a tendency to speak t h e i r native language at home and spend most of their time with t h e i r co-nationals. Berry and 12 Kim (1988) reported that the greater contact with host nationals was correlated with less stress i n Malaysian students i n Canada. As such, the l i n k between increased contact with host nationals and psychological well-being has been demonstrated i n other studies (e.g. Chataway & Berry, 1989; Heikinheimo & Shute, 1986; Deressa & Beavers, 1988; Mickle & Chan, 1986). While these studies suggest the p o s i t i v e influence of host-sojourner contact, some studies indicate that i n some cases i t may be harmful for one's emotional well-being. Ward and Kennedy (1992) found that psychological di s t r e s s was predicted by frequent contact with host nationals for New Zealanders l i v i n g i n Singapore. A s i m i l a r r e s u l t was found i n a study of Malaysian students i n Singapore (Ward & Kennedy, 1994). Thus, the l i n k between host-sojourner contact and psychological well-being may not be as l i n e a r as has been suggested, but may be moderated by factors such as r e c e p t i v i t y of the host culture and the degree of c u l t u r a l distance between one's home and host countries (Ward & Kennedy, 1992, 1993b; Ward & Searle, 1991; Pedersen, 1991). P a d i l l a , Wagatsuma, and Lindholm (1984) suggest that s e l f -esteem may be the major predictor of acculturative s t r e s s . In t h e i r study of f i r s t , second, and third-generation Japanese-American students, those of f i r s t - g e n e r a t i o n reported the highest stress, and scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y lower than the other two groups on the self-esteem measure. The second-generation group, on the other hand, indicated higher stress and scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y lower on self-esteem than the t h i r d generation group. From th i s 13 r e s u l t , P a d i l l a et a l (1984) propose that f i r s t - g e n e r a t i o n immigrants may be most prone to stress because of s i g n i f i c a n t c u l t u r a l gaps they face i n terms of s o c i a l norms, role expectations, and language, and may be most l i k e l y to see themselves i n an unfavourable l i g h t . Previous i n t e r r a c i a l or t r a n s i t i o n a l experience has also been rel a t e d to enhanced adjustment (Rohrlich & Martin, 1992; Berry, et a l , 1987). Rohrlich and Martin (1992) found that in t e r n a t i o n a l students with p r i o r t r a n s i t i o n a l experience reported a greater ease with adjustment, while those with no previous experience indicated s i g n i f i c a n t l y greater d i f f i c u l t y i n dealing with t r a n s i t i o n a l tasks such as using unfamiliar currency and t r a v e l l i n g . Those without previous t r a n s i t i o n experience also reported d i f f i c u l t y with making friends. Berry et a l (1987) overviewed research on acculturative stress done i n Canada between 1969 and 1985, and suggested that p r i o r i n t e r c u l t u r a l experiences play an important role i n one's acculturative process. Adan and Felner (1995), on the other hand, argue that the f i t between one's previous experience and the present s i t u a t i o n i s more important than the amount of previous experience. Adan and Felner found that a greater amount of p r i o r i n t e r r a c i a l experience was associated with heightened adjustment for African-American students attending a primarily White university, whereas lower lev e l s of such experience was correlated with better adjustment for African-Americans at a p r i m a r i l y Black university. 14 Thus, Adan and Felner (1995) concluded that f a m i l i a r i t y and opportunities may be the c r i t i c a l determinants of adjustment. Locus of control has been demonstrated to a f f e c t the cross-c u l t u r a l adjustment process. Lu (1990) found that i n t e r n a l locus of control was correlated with less perceived academic and s o c i a l demands i n Chinese students i n B r i t a i n . External locus of control revealed greater mood disturbance (Ward and Kennedy, 1992, 1993b) and higher l e v e l of depression (Ward and Kennedy, 1992) than those with an internal locus of control i n New Zealanders residing i n Singapore. Similarly, P a d i l l a et a l (1988) demonstrated that first-generation Japanese-American students tended to be more stressed out than l a t e r generation groups, and to show an external locus of control while l a t e r generation groups indicated a tendency for i n t e r n a l locus of control. Experience of International Students While international students often share the same obstacles, such as academic pressure and f i n a n c i a l stress with l o c a l u n i v e r s i t y students, they also face a unique challenge of learning to adapt and function competitively i n an unfamiliar c u l t u r a l context (Kaczmarek, Matlock, Merta, Ames, & Ross, 1994/ Lu, 1990; Perdersen, 1991; Westwood & Barker, 1990). Leong (cited i n Kaczmarek et a l , 1994) i d e n t i f i e d three categories of challenges that international students face: a) developmental issues common to u n i v e r s i t y students (e.g. autonomy), b) challenges related to being away from home (e.g. homesickness), 15 and c) challenges unique to being an international student (e.g. immigration). Parr et a l (1992) reported that the areas of the greatest concern for international students were extended family (not having enough contact with them, worry about t h e i r well-being), finances, and school. Finances were rated as problematic by 51% of international students i n a 1988 survey i n Canada (CBIE, 1989). Heikinheimo and Shute (1986) i d e n t i f i e d language, academic pressure, c u l t u r a l difference, and r a c i a l discrimination as p r i n c i p a l concerns for international students i n Canada. Deressa and Beavers (1988) found that the two most common issues for international students were finances and language. In Canada, 21% of international students reported to have a language-related problems.(CBIE, 1989). These studies indicate that international students are confronted with the dual task of handling the challenges of univer s i t y l i f e and of doing so i n a foreign culture without a previous support network. International students often experience homesickness (Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986; Ishiyama, 1989; Lu, 1990; Wehrly, 1988) . Lu (1990) reported that 94.9% of Chinese students i n B r i t a i n experienced homesickness i n his study. Since there was no difference found between the more homesick and the les s homesick i n personality and perceived demands or symptoms, Lu (1990) concluded that homesickness stemmed from the environmental demand of being away from home and was d i f f e r e n t from a mental i l l n e s s which was affected by personality factors. 16 Because of separation from family, friends, and a f a m i l i a r environment, international students often become lone l y (Cadieux & Wehrly, 1988; Hsu, Hailey, & Range, 1987; Wehrly, 1988). A survey on international students (CBIE, 1989) reported that 66% of the students indicated loneliness as t h e i r major problem while 55% answered making friends as a major challenge for them. Hsu et a l (1987) demonstrated that Chinese students i n America were more s o c i a l l y lonely and alienated than Chinese students i n China, while more Chinese students i n China reported emotional loneliness than Chinese students i n America. Emotional loneliness r e s u l t s from a lack of close emotional r e l a t i o n s h i p s , whereas s o c i a l loneliness i s the effect of absence of a s o c i a l network (Hsu et a l , 1987). This result suggests that loneliness for i n t e r n a t i o n a l students may stem from a loss and lack of interpersonal contacts. Loss of a previous role and i d e n t i t y poses a challenge for many int e r n a t i o n a l students (Alexander, Klein, Workneh, & M i l l e r , 1981; Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986; Ishiyama & Westwood, 1992; Pedersen, 1991). Pedersen (1991) points out that a l o s s of a support system and i d e n t i t y has a tremendous imp l i c a t i o n since an i n d i v i d u a l ' s self-image and self-esteem are dependent on his/her i d e n t i t y and are validated by s i g n i f i c a n t others. Common reactions to loss of previous i d e n t i t y and r o l e include anxiety, feelings of disorientation, f e e l i n g s of being l o s t (Pedersen, 1991) and feelings of worthlessness (Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986). Chataway and Berry (1989) reported high anxiety 17 i n Chinese students i n an English university. Cadieux and Wehrly (1986) warn that a loss of status and i d e n t i t y may lead to a c r i s i s i f these students cannot find a new ongoing support system. T o f f o l i and A l l a n (1992) emphasize that dealing with loss, g r i e f , and readjustment i s a major task for a l l ESL students. The task of dealing with loss and academic challenges i n an unfamiliar environment often results i n depression for many in t e r n a t i o n a l students (Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986). Pedersen (1991) suggests that depression i s the most prevalent among int e r n a t i o n a l students and has more serious implications than loneliness and homesickness. Researchers o f f e r explanations for depression among int e r n a t i o n a l students. Wehrly (1988) suggests that the pressure to succeed i s intense for international students. They t r y to be competitive while facing other challenges such as i s o l a t i o n , f i n a n c i a l pressure, and language limitations (Wehrly, 1988). Some academic tasks such as oral presentations and cla s s discussions may be completely foreign for many i n t e r n a t i o n a l students, and the competitive nature of school may bewilder them i f they come from more community-oriented s o c i e t i e s (Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986). Wehrly (1988) concludes that i t i s understandable for these students to f e e l depressed, helpless, and angry. While international students face unique challenges and are prone to experience a great deal of stress (Smith, 1985), several studies reported results that contradict t h i s notion. Leong, 18 Mallinkrodt, and Kralj (1990) demonstrated that Asian international students experienced fewer s t r e s s f u l l i f e events than did Caucasian students i n the U. S. Parr et a l (1992) found that international students tended to be more determined, thankful, and happy rather than lonely, sad, and discouraged. Kaczmarek et a l (1994) reported that no s i g n i f i c a n t difference was found between international students and U.S. students on scales of academic and personal/emotional adjustment, while international students reported s i g n i f i c a n t l y more d i f f i c u l t i e s on s o c i a l adjustment and i n s t i t u t i o n a l attachment scales. In t h i s regard, Pedersen (1991) cautions against overemphasizing and overgeneralizing pathology i n in t e r n a t i o n a l students. Because international students are a heterogeneous group, i t i s essential to be attentive to i n d i v i d u a l cases while being aware of unique challenges they face. I t . i s also important to recognize strengths many international students possess such as an a b i l i t y to persevere and a determination to pursue t h e i r goals (Wehrly, 1988). Use of Art as a Communication Tool Despite various challenges, international students usually do not express t h e i r concerns ( T o f f o l i & Allan, 1992; Wehrly, 1986; Westwood & Ishiyama, 1990). Westwood and Ishiyama (1990) suggest that sojourners often have defici e n c i e s i n language and s o c i a l competencies, and are not able to express themselves c l e a r l y . T o f f o l i and A l l a n (1992) suggest that ESL students 19 often cannot name what i s bothering them, or they are reluctant to focus on i t . The c u l t u r a l b a r r i e r may stand between a sojourner and a l i s t e n e r from two d i f f e r e n t cultures ( T o f f o l i & A l l a n , 1992; Golub, 1989; Westwood & Borgen, 1988). Vogel (1986) reported that the primary issue for wives of international students was misunderstandings i n cross-cultural communication which stem from language l i m i t a t i o n and c u l t u r a l differences. Vogel (1986) indicated that breakdowns in cross-cultural communication often occurred as a r e s u l t of different values i n communication styles and assumptions about interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Wehrly (1988) suggests that language barriers and c u l t u r a l constraint against revealing one's emotions are the major challenges i n cross-c u l t u r a l counselling. Westwood and Borgen (1988) argue that assumptions i n such factors as roles, goals, and r o l e r e l a t i o n s h i p s may d i f f e r from culture to culture, and t h i s difference can become "a f e r t i l e ground for misunderstanding and c o n f l i c t " (p. 120). Westwood and Borgen (1988) further asserts that the subjective culture, a f i l t e r through which an i n d i v i d u a l s sees the world, i s resistant to change and tends to remain unconscious. Research has indicated the advantages of using v i s u a l art as a communication bridge. McNiff (1981) suggests v i s u a l a rt can provide "a focus of sharing" (p. x i i i ) . Having the artwork i n front of them, an individual may f i n d i t easier to t a l k about themselves by describing his/her drawings. It also provides a 20 v i s u a l clue for a l i s t e n e r to develop understanding and insights into the person's subjective experience (Hampden-Turner, 1981; Wadeson, 1980). Amundson (1988) proposes the use of drawings for case conceptualization. Pinholster (1983) demonstrated how v i s u a l art was used as a sharing point for non-verbal childr e n and a counsellor. Moody (1995) reported that Native Americans found a way to communicate personal and c u l t u r a l values with the researcher through paintings and drawings. Moody (1995) concludes that v i s u a l art "opened the way for understanding, sharing, and transcending c u l t u r a l b a r r i e r s " (p. 225). T o f f o l i and A l l a n (1992) suggest that t h e i r programme for ESL students which includes drawing exercise enables teachers to gain deeper awareness of the students' experiences. V i s u a l art can become a supplement to verbal communication as i t i s a symbolic speech through which messages are expressed i n images (Dalley, 1984; Roijen, 1991). Rhyne (1978) claims that an i n d i v i d u a l creates v i s u a l messages that r e f l e c t his/her personal r e a l i t y . Dalley (1984) maintains that art can become the most valuable substitute when speech i s impaired or underdeveloped. Henley (1987) documented the use of v i s u a l art with hearing-impaired children. Lomeo-Smith (1979) found that using art helped circumvent language b a r r i e r s between the researcher and Hispanic families. Roijen (1991) reported that drawings enabled the researcher to communicate with a Pakistan family without an interpreter, and this process enhanced t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . 21 K e l l y , Kelley, and Moore (1978) demonstrated the use of art as a means of communication and self-expression for a u t i s t i c children and young adults. Henley (1987) claims that drawing helps to loosen defenses of denial and repression. This was i l l u s t r a t e d by his study of hearing-impaired children who eventually began to express t h e i r feelings about family, friends, and themselves by drawing and t a l k i n g about their drawings. Using a case study method, Pinholster (1983) i l l u s t r a t e d the process i n which a nonverbal c h i l d gradually l e t go of his defenses and shared his classroom experience. Riley (1978) used art to e s t a b l i s h a l l i a n c e with adolescents who showed resistance i n therapy. Vis u a l art can provide a safe haven where sojourners can express t h e i r feelings. McNiff (1980) suggest that art can be a valuable tool for those who f i n d d i r e c t verbal expression too threatening. Thrasher, Yee, and Zahnstecher (1989) demonstrated that drawings helped immigrants from West India to express and explore such issues as grief, a sense of loss, and anger. The process of being engaged i n artwork might enable an i n d i v i d u a l to reach deeper feelings. Dalley (1984) suggests that one's -thought and feelings reach expression i n images rather than words because they are derived from the unconscious. Sim i l a r l y , A l l a n (1988) suggests that emotions and thoughts that were not revealed i n words often emerge i n the painting exercise. Haegar (1978) demonstrated that v i s u a l art f a c i l i t a t e d an emotionally 22 troubled woman to reach her fears and pain about her relationships with family. While the use of art has several advantages for understanding an individual's subjective experiences, i t also has some setbacks. Amundson (1988) indicates that the drawing a c t i v i t y may e l i c i t negative reactions for reasons such as insecurity, lack of drawing a b i l i t y , and i n a b i l i t y to v i s u a l i z e . A l l a n and T o f f o l i (1989) suggests that a drawing exercise may be unfamiliar for many ESL students. Thus, to ease the possible discomfort, i t i s important to remind individuals that t h e i r drawings w i l l not be judged for a r t i s t i c q u a l i t y and that the purpose of the drawing exercise i s not to produce a work of art (Allan & T o f f o l i , 1989). Summary Although the U-curve hypothesis and the concept of culture shock contributed to b u i l d a basis for adjustment research, the current research has turned to a focus on mediating factors. Schlossberg (1981) proposed that i n the adaptation process, an in d i v i d u a l moves towards integrating t r a n s i t i o n a l experience into his/her l i f e . Three categories of moderating variables are i d e n t i f i e d by Schlossberg: c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t r a n s i t i o n , c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the individual, and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of pre-and p o s t - t r a n s i t i o n environment. Kim and Berry (1989) i d e n t i f i e d the i n d i v i d u a l ' s attitudes toward acculturation as a key factor to determine modes of acculturation (assimilation, separation, marginalization, and 23 i n t e g r a t i o n ) . While integration was indicated to be the most e f f e c t i v e acculturative mode, further research i s needed to v e r i f y t h i s notion. Ward and Searle (1991) i d e n t i f i e d two types of adjustment: psychological and s o c i o c u l t u r a l . Psychological adjustment refers to an emotional well-being whereas soc i o c u l t u r a l adaptation i s an a b i l i t y to f i t into a larger society. These two types of adjustment are affected by d i f f e r e n t variables, and may be best understood by d i f f e r e n t theoretical perspectives, that i s , psychological adjustment from a stress and coping framework and s o c i o c u l t u r a l adaptation from a s o c i a l learning and cognitive perspective. Current research has i d e n t i f i e d other mediating factors such as contacts with host nationals, r e c e p t i v i t y of the host culture, c u l t u r a l distance, personality (e.g. self-esteem, locus of control), p r i o r t r a n s i t i o n a l or cross-cultural experience, and a f i t between pre and p o s t - t r a n s i t i o n environment. The current research indicates that international students are prone to loneliness and depression. They may s u f f e r from a loss of previous role and i d e n t i t y and may be concerned with such issues as t h e i r family, finances, language, and c u l t u r a l differences. Although these challenges may lead them to f e e l anxious, helpless, and depressed, they r a r e l y t a l k about t h e i r fe e l i n g s . On the other hand, there i s some research that indicates international students are no more stressed than l o c a l u n i v e r s i t y students. 24 The communicative advantages of v i s u a l art has been demonstrated with a wide variety of populations. V i s u a l art can provide a f o c a l point of discussion, be used as a communication aid when one's language i s limited, help loosen an i n d i v i d u a l ' s defence, and provide a safe haven to the i n d i v i d u a l . While v i s u a l art has been used widely as a communication t o o l , very few studies incorporated the v i s u a l image to depict experiences of international students. Current research on i n t e r n a t i o n a l students has mostly u t i l i z e d quantitative methods, and as a r e s u l t , very l i t t l e first-hand d e s c r i p t i o n of experiences i s available. This study aims to expand our understanding of experiences of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students, through a v i s u a l representation and by using a q u a l i t a t i v e method to encourage them to t e l l t h e i r own s t o r i e s . 25 Chapter three Methodology Research Design The primary focus of t h i s study was to explore, through drawing, how international students whose f i r s t language i s not English experienced the process of adjusting to a new culture. It aimed to shed l i g h t on the meaning of experiences those students went through when they l e f t t h e i r own country and relocated to a new s i t u a t i o n . For this study, an " i n t e r n a t i o n a l student" was defined as someone enrolled i n a l o c a l u n i v e r s i t y who came from outside of Canada i n order to pursue further education. A q u a l i t a t i v e design was selected as the most appropriate to understand the experiences of those students from t h e i r own frames of reference. Qu a l i t a t i v e research attempts to understand the phenomenon as l i v e d by the participants (MacMillan & Schumacher, 1989; Sandelowski, 1986) and to describe the meaning of such experience (Banister, Burman, Parker, Taylor, & T i n d a l l , 1994). It i s based on the naturalistic-phenomenological assumption that r e a l i t y i s "multilayered" (MacMillan & Schumacher, 1989, p. 373) as i t i s "ultimately subjective" (Sandelowski, Davis, & Harris, 1989, p. 77), and that human experience i s meaningful and comprehensible to those who l i v e d i t without external theorizing or explanation (Dukes, 1984). It has the focus of attempting to shed l i g h t on themes and processes and to gain a deeper understanding of the experience (Marshall & Rossman, 1994). 26 The research questions of this study were: (a) what i s the experience of international students studying i n a Canadian u n i v e r s i t y whose native language i s not English? (b) How does t h e i r experience change or not change over time? and (c) Can drawings help capture the experiences of in t e r n a t i o n a l students who study at a u n i v e r s i t y i n Canada? Personal Assumptions In q u a l i t a t i v e research, because a researcher's task i s to reveal "the l i v e d meaning" of experience for the i n d i v i d u a l (Giorgi, 1983, p. 18), the researcher becomes immersed i n the in v e s t i g a t i o n process by formulating research questions, a c t i v e l y i n t e r a c t i n g with co-researchers, and making decisions regarding data c o l l e c t i o n and analysis (MacMillan & Schumacher, 1989; Osbourne, 1990; Sandelowski et a l , 1989). Consequently, the researcher's values and preconceptions would have an unavoidable influence on how the study i s conducted and i t s outcome. It i s , therefore, important for a qual i t a t i v e researcher to recognize one's predispositions through a process of "rigourous s e l f -r e f l e c t i o n " (Osbourne, 1990, p. 81) and a r t i c u l a t e them i n the f i n a l report (Co l a i z z i , 1978; Osbourne, 1990) By doing so, the researcher becomes aware of these preconceptions so as to attempt to minimize t h e i r influence (Guglietti-Kelly & Westcott, 1990). It also enables those reading the report to consider the framework of the researcher from which the study was conducted and results analyzed (Osbourne, 1990). 27 I have i d e n t i f i e d several assumptions that may have relevance to t h i s study considering the fact that I am an i n t e r n a t i o n a l student myself and have worked with ESL students as a counsellor. My background i n art may also have had some influence. I have i d e n t i f i e d the following assumptions: (a) People are experts of th e i r own l i v e s . (b) There i s a need for r e s o u r c e s . s p e c i f i c a l l y aimed to help i n t e r n a t i o n a l students. (c) Most international students go through an adjustment process. (d) Drawing may give a counsellor tools to understand i n t e r n a t i o n a l students' experiences i n a symbolic fashion. (e) Drawing has the potential of serving as a bridge between a counsellor and a c l i e n t for mutual understanding. (f) The experience of moving into a foreign culture where one's previous way of coping and way of viewing the world may not be relevant i s s t r e s s f u l for most people. (g) Sharing experiences with others helps most people r e l i e v e stress and view t h e i r own experiences from a new perspective. Selection of Participants Purposeful sampling was employed i n t h i s study. Purposeful sampling i s to use information r i c h cases i n order to maximize the u t i l i t y of information yielded from a small sample (MacMillan & Schumacher, 1989). Based on t h i s sampling strategy, I conducted interviews and fiv e participants provided a reasonable 28 amount of information. A l l the participants were r e c r u i t e d by the following procedure: 1. F i r s t , p o t e n t i a l participants were approached, a f t e r which I explained the purpose of the study, the number and duration of interviews involved, the procedure, and c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y and anonymity issues. As Banister et a l (1994) emphasized, i n order to e s t a b l i s h rapport with participants, i t i s important i n a q u a l i t a t i v e study that participants be informed of the purpose, procedure, number and duration of interviews, and how the material w i l l be dealt with at the completion of the study (Banister et a l , 1994; MacMillan & Schumacher, 1989). 2. The p o t e n t i a l participants i n this study were assured that t h e i r c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y would be s t r i c t l y protected i n that t h e i r names or any other information that might reveal t h e i r i d e n t i t y would be eliminated i n the f i n a l report. It was also emphasized that they could refuse to answer any question or withdraw from the study at any time. By doing so, the researcher l e t s the p a r t i c i p a n t s know that they are i n charge of how much they choose to d i s c l o s e (Banister et a l , 1994). The p o t e n t i a l p a r t i c i p a n t s were, then, asked to contact the researcher, should they wish to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the study. 3. Once the participants agreed to p a r t i c i p a t e , the interview date and time were arranged. The consent form (Appendix A) was obtained at the beginning of the f i r s t interview a f t e r which a copy of the signed form was given to the p a r t i c i p a n t . 29 A l l the part i c i p a n t s f u l f i l l e d the following c r i t e r i a : (a) English was not t h e i r native language, (b) they were enrolled i n regular u n i v e r s i t y courses, (c) they were able to communicate and read i n English, (d) they provided informed consent for p a r t i c i p a t i o n , and (e) they were w i l l i n g to t a l k and draw about t h e i r experiences as international students. A l l of the pa r t i c i p a n t s resided i n Vancouver at the time of the interview, and were graduate students at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia. Four of them were female and one was male. Four were married, two of whom l i v e d with th e i r spouses while the other two had l e f t t h e i r spouses i n t h e i r home countries. Two had young ch i l d r e n . As for e t h n i c i t y , one was Mexican, one African, and three were Chinese. Their age ranged between 25 to 36. Data C o l l e c t i o n The study involved one preliminary meeting, one in-depth semi-structured interview, and one v a l i d a t i o n interview. During the preliminary meeting, I introduced myself as a graduate student i n the Department of Counselling Psychology, Uni v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, and explained to pote n t i a l p a r t i c i p a n t s such issues as the rationale and purpose of the study, the requirements for p a r t i c i p a t i o n , c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , and t h e i r freedom to withdraw or refuse any question at any time of the interview. The f i r s t interview was a semi-structured data c o l l e c t i o n interview. As Marshall and Rossman (1994) suggest, a good working r e l a t i o n s h i p between the researcher and p a r t i c i p a n t s i s 30 e s s e n t i a l for interviews to be f r u i t f u l . For t h i s reason, a semi-structured format was used during which the researcher respected how the participants framed t h e i r responses while the general structure was standardized across d i f f e r e n t p a r t i c i p a n t s . The second interview was to ensure that the researcher's understanding of the participants' stories was accurate. The second interview was carried out over the telephone except for one p a r t i c i p a n t who preferred to meet the researcher i n person. Structure of the Data C o l l e c t i o n Interview The length of the data c o l l e c t i o n interview was two hours. Four of these were conducted at a research room i n the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia. One interview was carried out at the partic i p a n t ' s residence as she preferred to be home for her young c h i l d . The interview consisted of three sections: a discussion of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' i n i t i a l experiences i n Canada, a review of t h e i r current l i f e , and a discussion of t h e i r i d e a l future l i f e . Each section includes a drawing exercise where the parti c i p a n t s were asked to draw a picture that represented t h e i r experiences of the i n i t i a l period, current l i f e and i d e a l future l i f e . A l l three sections repeated the same procedure. Each section started with a relaxation exercise and guided imagery. Three d i f f e r e n t s c r i p t s of guided imagery were developed for t h i s study (Appendix B) based on the group guidance model for ESL students outlined by A l l a n and T o f f o l i (1989). 31 The guided imagery i s useful to a l l e v i a t e p a r t i c i p a n t s ' anxiety and to focus on the task at hand (Cormier & Hackney, 1993), and to help them get i n touch with l o s t memory and emotions (Allan & T o f f o l i , 1989) . It also aimed to encourage the p a r t i c i p a n t s to v i s u a l i z e their experiences for the following drawing task. Following guided imagery, the participants were asked to draw a p i c t u r e that symbolized t h e i r experiences. Wadeson (1980). suggests using art i n a semi-structured session to e l i c i t s p e c i f i c data. Wadeson further claims that using such a method yie l d s an i n t e r e s t i n g discovery about how people experience c e r t a i n phenomenon. Amundson (1988) suggests using a metaphor provides "a springboard for developing i n s i g h t s " (p. 391). R0ijen (1991) documented the use of drawings as a means of communication between the researcher and p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study of immigrant families. Participants were encouraged to describe t h e i r experiences and drawings i n as much d e t a i l as possible. When most pa r t i c i p a n t s indicated that they did not know how to begin, I reminded them that t h e i r drawings would not be judged for a r t i s t i c q u a l i t y and that I would r e l y on them to describe t h e i r drawings rather than analyzing t h e i r drawings. Furthermore, I emphasized the fact that there was no wrong or r i g h t answer and any information they provided would be appreciated as valuable and meaningful. I also suggested that they could e i t h e r draw 32 f i r s t and describe l a t e r or draw as they talked. A l l chose the l a t t e r . Using open-ended questions and r e f l e c t i o n , I f a c i l i t a t e d the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' expression of their thoughts and feelings, and description of t h e i r behaviours. This i s c a l l e d a new paradigm interview mode by Banister et a l (1994) where p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s t o r i e s are treated as valuable and meaningful, and the interview i s considered a collaborative process of a researcher and pa r t i c i p a n t s . Furthermore, as I f a c i l i t a t e d the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s t o r y - t e l l i n g , I t r i e d to view their experiences from t h e i r frames of reference and to understand as i f I were the pa r t i c i p a n t . A sample of questions (Appendix C) was used to ensure c e r t a i n areas were covered, while for the most part the emphasis was on f l e x i b i l i t y and open expression. At the end of the second section, p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked to compare t h e i r f i r s t and second drawings which represented t h e i r f i r s t period i n Canada and the i r present l i f e . They were asked to describe factors or events that may have contributed to change or no change between these representations. S i m i l a r l y , participants were asked to make a comparison between the second and t h i r d drawings, and to explore the ways i n which they could actualize t h e i r ideal future l i f e . The interview finished with a sentence completion questionnaire (Appendix D). This method i s suggested by A l l a n and T o f f o l i (1989) as a follow-up a c t i v i t y i n the group guidance model for ESL students. Ruiz (1984) also recommends the use of 33 the sentence completion method with a c r o s s - c u l t u r a l population since the method enables individuals to reveal not only t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s but also clues related to s p e c i f i c concerns. The purpose of using t h i s questionnaire was to provide p a r t i c i p a n t s with an opportunity to give feedback on the drawing exercise i n another format. I l e f t the room while part i c i p a n t s f i l l e d i n the questionnaire, and explained to them that I would not read the questionnaire u n t i l the completion of the analysis i n order not to influence the analysis of the interviews. The questionnaires were also f i l l e d i n anonymously i n order to encourage honest feedback. P i l o t Interviews Three p i l o t interviews were conducted p r i o r to data c o l l e c t i o n . This process was designed to v e r i f y the s u i t a b i l i t y of the interview format and to f a m i l i a r i z e myself with the interview procedure and my role as a researcher. Breakwell (1995) emphasized the importance of p i l o t study i n q u a l i t a t i v e research by pointing out the fact that loosely structured interviews can e a s i l y lose sight of the main issues without adequate p i l o t i n g . A l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s for the p i l o t study were female spouses of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students. They were enrolled i n an English for Second Language (ESL) c l a s s . While the issues these p a r t i c i p a n t s faced may have been d i f f e r e n t from those who en r o l l e d i n regular u n i v e r s i t y courses, the p i l o t study provided me with an opportunity to determine i f the wording and i n s t r u c t i o n s were 34 c l e a r to the potential participants, to p r a c t i s e a l l o c a t i n g an appropriate amount of time to each section of the interview, and to r e f l e c t on the ways i n which I conducted the interviews. A f t e r having reviewed the interview tapes, I met a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n person for feedback sessions. Appropriate changes were made to the wording of instructions and guided imagery based on the recommendations by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Drawing Material 11 inch by 15 inch drawing paper was used i n the interview. This s i z e was selected based on the feedback from those who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the e a r l i e r p i l o t study. It was deemed suitable as i t d i d not overwhelm them nor was i t too small f o r them to draw t h e i r l i f e experiences. 36 coloured pencils along with 24 crayons and 24 markers were presented at the interview. Crayons and markers were placed i n a basket while pencils were li n e d up i n a self-standing box. The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the p i l o t study provided feedback that the number of colours and types of medium were appropriate since they had adequate choice over colours and what medium to use. Researcher's Impressions of the Interviews Conducting in-depth interviews with i n t e r n a t i o n a l students provided me with challenges as well as a f u l f i l l i n g experience. An i n t e r n a t i o n a l student myself, I often f e l t the interviews as i f I was r e v i s i t i n g f a miliar memories. I was surprised at the degree to which the participants' stories were, s i m i l a r to my own experiences. My major task, thus, was to have my preconceptions 35 under check i n order to hear what the pa r t i c i p a n t s were t e l l i n g me rather than leaping to conclusions from my own experiences. While the fact that I was an international student seemed to help ease the tension of the participants, i t also clouded the boundary between a researcher, a counsellor, and a fellow student. This may have been stemmed by a sense of sharing the same struggles as other international students. One par t i c i p a n t stated: And that r e a l l y helps, you know, when you f i n d that you are not the only one with problems, and communication problems. And you star t doing things with them, l i k e for example, we play v o l l e y b a l l together, we play soccer together, we do several things together. And there's something, there's something there i n common, that a l l of us have the same problem, communication. Consequently, several participants asked me to share my experience. I approached this challenge by gently reminding them that the interview time was for them to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s . I also t r i e d to convey my understanding and appreciation of th e i r experiences. It was important for me to f i n d a balance between the roles of a researcher and an understanding a l l y . The drawing task posed another challenge. Most parti c i p a n t s communicated to me that they did not know how to s t a r t . Yet, aft e r a gentle encouragement, they seemed to be immersed i n the process of drawing and describing their experiences. I was struck by the vividness of some p a r t i c i p a n t s ' memories. One participant described the scenery he saw while 36 being l o s t i n the b u i l d i n g on his f i r s t day of school i n s t r i k i n g d e t a i l . Another described i n d e t a i l what her room looked l i k e while crying i n her room on the day she arrived i n Canada. This may be an i n d i c a t i o n of how painful these memories were to those pa r t i c i p a n t s , and l e f t me wondering how few opportunities there were to t e l l these s t o r i e s . Data Analysis The interview data was analyzed concurrently with the data c o l l e c t i o n . Audio-tapes of the interviews were reviewed, and transcribed verbatim following each interview. Following the completion of transcribing, each tape was reviewed again to check the accuracy of the t r a n s c r i p t s . I, then, proceeded to analyze the transcribed data based on the following steps o u t l i n e d i n Empirical Phenomenological Psychological (EPP) method (Karlsson, 1993): 1) The researcher reads the protocol u n t i l gaining a "good grasp" (p. 96) to proceed on to the next step. 2) The researcher divides the interview protocol into small units where the researcher perceives a s h i f t i n meaning. These units are c a l l e d meaning units (MUs). Breaking down the text into smaller units i s a " p r a c t i c a l aid" (p. 96) to keep the data manageable. Karlsson emphasizes that MUs are not independent from one another but are "discernible parts" (p. 97) of the whole text. 3) The researcher traces out the psychological meaning of each MU, thus, moving from the p a r t i c u l a r fact to the meaning i t had 37 for the participant. It i s i n t h i s step that the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s language i s transformed into the researcher's. Karlsson suggests that each MU be understood i n l i g h t of the whole context. Also, everyday-life language i s preferable to theory-laden or too generic language. 4) The researcher rearranges the MUs i n order to synthesize them into a "situated structure" (p. 106). A situated structure illuminates what the phenomenon i s . The researcher's task i s to group the MUs i n a psychologically s i g n i f i c a n t way. In t h i s step, I also incorporated dimensions of experience used by G u g l i e t t i - K e l l y and Westcott (1991) . G u g l i e t t i - K e l l y and Westcott adopted the following dimensions i n t h e i r study of shyness: experience of the situation, experience of the s e l f , experience of a c t i v i t y , and experience of aftermath. The f i r s t dimension, experience of the s i t u a t i o n , indicates how an in d i v i d u a l experiences the external s i t u a t i o n while the second dimension highlights the i n t e r n a l experience that occurs while the person was i n that p a r t i c u l a r s i t u a t i o n . The f i r s t dimension may be exemplified by a statement such as "The building seemed enormous to me on my f i r s t day of school", whereas a statement such as "I f e l t r e a l l y stupid when I spoke up i n the c l a s s " would be an example of the second dimension. The t h i r d dimension, experience of a c t i v i t y , i l l u s t r a t e s what the person did i n that p a r t i c u l a r s i t u a t i o n . And the fourth dimension, experience of aftermath, includes statements that indicate the effects of the experience. 38 A f t e r d i v i d i n g a l l the MUs into these four categories, I further grouped MUs that have commonalties and named each cluster with a theme. A l l the themes were put into a table which enabled me to gain a clear sense of the experience as a whole. I, then, proceeded to write a summary for each section of the interview. Since an interview consists of three sections ( i n i t i a l period i n Canada, present l i f e , i d e a l future l i f e ) , each interview resulted i n three summaries. 5) The f i n a l step was to "move from situated structure to general structure" (p. 108). In t h i s step, d i f f e r e n t protocols of the same experience were compared to delineate commonalties as well as i n d i v i d u a l variations. Karlsson suggests to go back to raw data i n t h i s step so as not to overlook relevant constituents i n an attempt to move on to a more abstract l e v e l of understanding. V a l i d a t i o n of analysis was done i n two steps; f i r s t at the time of d i v i d i n g the text into MUs, and l a t e r a f t e r the completion of writing interview summaries. For the f i r s t v a l i d a t i o n , I met with a doctoral candidate of the Department of Counselling Psychology i n University of B r i t i s h Columbia. A part of the text was divided concurrently by him and me, and compared afterwards. When there was a disagreement between his d i v i s i o n and my d i v i s i o n , each of us explained the reasoning behind that p a r t i c u l a r d i v i s i o n . Then, we proceeded to divide some addi t i o n a l text. This process was repeated u n t i l the agreement reached approximately ninety percent. 39 For the second validation, the interview summaries were mailed to each participant, and t h e i r accuracy was checked i n v a l i d a t i o n interviews. A l l the v a l i d a t i o n interviews were ca r r i e d out over the telephone except for one p a r t i c i p a n t who preferred to meet the researcher i n person. Two p a r t i c i p a n t s added a couple of sentences to c l a r i f y the text, while the rest added no correction. Summary Qualitative methodology was used to guide t h i s study. The data was c o l l e c t e d through a drawing exercise and in-depth interviews. Three p i l o t interviews were conducted p r i o r to data c o l l e c t i o n interviews. Five international students whose native language was not English participated i n th i s study on condition that they provided a consent form, and were able and w i l l i n g to draw and ta l k about t h e i r experience i n Canada. Transcribed interview data was analyzed according to the EPP method (Karlsson, 1993) and the thematic categories used i n G u g l i e t t i -K e l l y and Westcott's study (1990). This resulted i n the part i c i p a n t s ' accounts of t h e i r experiences and a number of common and unique themes. 40 Chapter Four Results This chapter presents the stories of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences as international students. This i s followed by a summary of common themes which emerged from the q u a l i t a t i v e analysis and a summary of responses on the sentence-completion questionnaires which the participants f i l l e d i n at the end of t h e i r interviews. Stories of Each Participant In order to gain a better understanding of each pa r t i c i p a n t ' s unique experience, th e i r s t o r i e s are presented below. Each participant's story consists of three phases of t h e i r l i f e i n Canada: the i n i t i a l period, present l i f e , and future i d e a l l i f e . A l l the names i n these s t o r i e s are pseudonyms, and while excerpts are quoted from the t r a n s c r i p t s , r e p e t i t i v e stutters and incomprehensible utterances are omitted from the excerpts. Miguel Miguel i s a 30-year old graduate student from Mexico. He came to Canada with his wife after being accepted into a graduate programme. They were l i v i n g i n Vancouver at the time of the interview, and had no children. The interview took place approximately six months after his a r r i v a l i n Canada. (A) I n i t i a l Period Miguel's l i f e i n Canada began i n anxiety and i s o l a t i o n . The f i r s t day of school well epitomizes his experience of the i n i t i a l 41 period, and th i s was r e f l e c t e d i n his drawing where he drew a large school building with dark clouds (Appendix E). Miguel explained that he f e l t overwhelmed and nervous at the sight of his department building because i t looked enormous to him. The s i t u a t i o n became worse upon entering the bu i l d i n g ; Miguel quickly got l o s t and could not f i n d the right room despite the fact that he had the room number. In his panic, Miguel kept on walking along the same corridor hoping that he would soon fi n d the room. Inside, anxiety and a sense of i s o l a t i o n grew, but he di d not want to ask others because of his English. He d i d not know how to say room numbers c o r r e c t l y i n English, and i t seemed too intimidating to speak to others i n English. Miguel described t h i s s i t u a t i o n as follows: I f e l t , I f e l t l o s t because I didn't know how to ex ( s i c ) , ask where the room was, where the room was or something l i k e that. I remember l a s t , twelve fourteen, the, the number of the room. Yeah, I remember, but I didn't know how to ask. For example, i f I could say, "I'm looking for a room twelve fourteen" or "one thousand two hundred and fourteen." Although he eventually found the room, his sense of solitude was never relieved. On the contrary, he came to f e e l more alone as he waited for f o r t y - f i v e minutes s i t t i n g i n the empty classroom by himself. When the lecture started, he could not understand the instructor's English, nor did he t a l k to other students. Everyone else knew each other, and he watched them chat with one another from the l a s t row of the room where he sat alone. When i t was his turn to introduce himself, Miguel just 42 said his name and remained s i l e n t for the rest of the c l a s s . The whole day was d i f f i c u l t characterized by feelings of i s o l a t i o n and nervousness: Yeah, I was just nervous about everything, yeah. B a s i c a l l y the communication was major problem, you know. And I saw the other guys, for example, the other classmates were ta l k i n g to each other and I was just look, how do you say that, just start, eh, watching them t a l k i n g . They knew each other before, because I st a r t i n January, they started i n September. They knew each other and I didn't know them. Then, I didn't say anything to them and they didn't say anything to me. And I just l e f t the room. The f e e l i n g of i s o l a t i o n persisted for a few months. Miguel did not know anything about the helping resources available to international students on campus, and everyday was d i f f i c u l t for him. Often, Miguel did not want to go to school, and when he did go, feelings of shame and fear blocked him from approaching others. Several attempts to talk to others were perceived as f a i l u r e s , as he could not keep the conversation flowing or make himself understood. Other students t r i e d to encourage him by asking him to repeat or to rephrase, but his sense of shame was so intense that he became completely withdrawn. However, the experience started to take another turn when he succeeded i n carrying a conversation with Canadians for the f i r s t time. Miguel talked with his Canadian classmates for an hour, and with t h i s as a st a r t i n g point, he began to f e e l included and cared for by others. Shortly after, a friendship began to develop between Miguel and a Canadian student, Nancy. While 43 communication was i n i t i a l l y a major challenge for them, t h e i r friendship grew based on a mutual appreciation and respect for each other's s k i l l s . Being able to help Nancy with his expertise, he started seeing himself i n a d i f f e r e n t l i g h t , as a worthy person. For Miguel, Nancy played a major r o l e i n bringing a p o s i t i v e change i n his l i f e . Because of these friendships with Canadians, Miguel's confidence rose and he started f e e l i n g at ease speaking English. While he recognized the importance of t a l k i n g to native English speakers to improve one's language a b i l i t y , i t had been d i f f i c u l t for him to overcome the mental b a r r i e r to do so. It was also helpful for him to l i v e i n a m u l t i c u l t u r a l neighbourhood where many were from outside Canada; i t helped ease his feelings of i s o l a t i o n and shame. Miguel f e l t that he shared the same challenge with his neighbours, and t h i s f e e l i n g enabled him to r e a l i z e that his i n i t i a l reaction was normal to a t r a n s i t i o n process. Having gone through the i n i t i a l period, Miguel now recognizes alternatives, such as counselling, that would have been h e l p f u l . However, he realizes that he had no means to know about these services i n the beginning when they were needed the most. Miguel also believes that an orie n t a t i o n programme s p e c i f i c a l l y for international students i s needed to help them cope with the challenges he had gone through. Furthermore, he thinks services for international students are generally lacking on campus, and international students remain uninformed of the 44 services available to them. Miguel also suggests that departments hold an orientation programme every semester instead of only i n the beginning of the academic year so that those s t a r t i n g i n the second term would not f e e l l e f t out. The past six months have been an incredible learning period for Miguel. He has learnt many l i f e lessons, but most notably, he has learnt to l i v e with people of di f f e r e n t c u l t u r a l backgrounds. He now recognizes r a c i a l discrimination i n his homeland and feels a sense of wonder that he enjoys l i v i n g with people from so many d i f f e r e n t cultures. However, while i t i s exci t i n g to see the extent of his personal growth, Miguel recognizes he s t i l l has future tasks, such as to overcome c u l t u r a l b a r r i e r s between him and his Canadian friends such as Nancy. (B) Present L i f e As shown i n his drawing,* Miguel 1s current l i f e i s divided into two parts: family and school (Appendix E). His family l i f e i s only p o s i t i v e ; Miguel i s very happy because he i s able to spend a good deal of time with his wife for the f i r s t time since they got married. Miguel expressed his happiness as follows: We are just happy, r e a l l y happy. We are enjoying our time here. We, yeah, l i k e we are doing l o t of exercise and we always have breakfast and lunch most of time, lunch and dinner together. It i s also t h e i r f i r s t time to l i v e i n a house without sharing i t with r e l a t i v e s , and t h i s also contributes to his happiness. 4 5 Miguel feels his l i f e s t y l e s h i f t e d since having come to Canada, and now his l i f e i s relaxed and happy. Miguel i s very happy with his wife and hoping for a baby. In contrast, school l i f e turned out to be disappointing for him as i t provides few challenges. A few hours of study a day i s enough to f u l f i l l the course requirements, and t h i s leaves him frustrated and disappointed. Miguel described his perspective as follows: I'm not certain about my studies. It's just l i k e why, what I'm doing now, l i k e I'm doing research now but I'm not c e r t a i n about the goal of my research, and I hate that, you know. It's l i k e looking for something that you don't know. Furthermore, his advisor does not seem to understand h i s feelings. There i s a communication d i f f i c u l t y between him and his advisor. While Miguel feels he could make himself better understood i f he t r i e d harder, he perceives the advisor to be impatient: My advisor, you know, he talks r e a l l y fast and sometimes I had problem to understand him. And he's not patient. His feelings of f r u s t r a t i o n are mainly due to the fact that he i s not sure of the purpose of the course he i s c u r r e n t l y taking. Miguel needs more advice, stimulus, and guidance from the advisor but feels the advisor knows very l i t t l e about Miguel's area of i n t e r e s t . Judging from the amount of supervision he receives, he wonders i f he i s expected to work on 46 his own because he i s a graduate student. While he hopes to get more involved with school l i f e i n the next semester when he w i l l take more courses, he i s apathetic and feels that the school does not r e a l l y matter because he has a happy family l i f e . While Miguel i s frustrated with his school l i f e , having a close Canadian f r i e n d (Nancy) has been h e l p f u l . He f e e l s connected with her despite the short period of t h e i r friendship, and he i s proud of th e i r friendship because they both earned i t through hard work. (C) Ideal Future L i f e In Miguel's i d e a l future l i f e , his work i s peripheral compared to the future with his family. While Miguel l i k e s his profession and hopes to get involved i n both f i e l d work and managerial work as portrayed i n his drawing (Appendix F), obtaining employment afte r graduation i s something that needs to happen i n order to provide for his family. He also r e a l i z e s that he w i l l have to work long hours especially i f he goes home. Differences i n working conditions between Canada and Mexico make him f e e l ambiguous about going home since spending time with family i s important for him. Miguel l i k e s the fact that i n Canada people keep regular working hours. In contrast, his family i s the centre of his future. Miguel cares about the future of his family and becomes excited when thinking about i t . As his drawing (Appendix F) indicates, his dream i s to l i v e i n a house beside mountains with his wife and the i r children. He would l i k e to spend a l o t of time with them 47 doing things such as cyc l i n g and taking walks. He would l i k e to have a baby soon, and he wonders i f the past miscarriage by his wife i s a reason for his wish for a baby, or i f he f e e l s babies would bring more happiness to an already good l i f e with his wife. While Miguel has a clear image of an ideal family l i f e , he i s not sure i f i t i s r e a l i s t i c . He recognizes h i s wife's needs to do something for herself outside the home, but f e e l s unsure i f his i d e a l picture can accommodate such needs. He also r e a l i z e s that because of his job he w i l l not be able to continue the present l i f e s t y l e i n which he spends a great deal of time with his wife. For Miguel, the present l i f e i s a preparation stage for an idea l future. He r e a l i z e s that his choice i s either to go home or to stay i n Canada, and he i s aware of the e f f e c t s of each choice on his l i f e . While a decision has not been made, i t seems more pla u s i b l e to l i v e i n Canada to actualize his i d e a l p i c t u r e . He thinks i t may be a good idea to stay i n Canada at lea s t for a while to es t a b l i s h a basis for his future. Lucy Lucy i s a 3 6-year o l d woman from Kenya. She i s married and has three young children. She came to Canada to pursue graduate degrees approximately six years before the interview, and her family was s t i l l i n Kenya at the time of the interview. (A) I n i t i a l Period Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty characterized the beginning of Lucy's new l i f e i n Canada. It was her f i r s t time to 48 l i v e i n a foreign country, and although she found her supervisor h e l p f u l , she f e l t anxious anti c i p a t i n g her new l i f e . Lucy described her feelings as follows: And to me, i t was quite a, I didn't know how I'm gonna cope with everything, you know. And, of course, I had a r e a l l y nice supervisor, yeah, he was very h e l p f u l . But s t i l l , you know, you are, you concerned about the students you gonna meet and... It's more l i k e what's gonna, what's gonna happen, yeah. However, the whole experience s h i f t e d when the class started. While i t was d i f f i c u l t for her to describe what exactly went on during the classes, Lucy t r i e d to explain the unique dynamics i n the classroom through her drawing. Her drawing contains words such as survival, i n v i s i b l e , and s t r e s s f u l as well as pictures of the classroom scene and her ch i l d r e n (Appendix G) . Lucy used an exercise i n the f i r s t class as an example of these dynamics. In thi s exercise, students were inst r u c t e d to s i t i n small c i r c l e s to introduce themselves. The pressure to say something was intense. But when she f i n a l l y began to t e l l something about herself, other students kept i n t e r r u p t i n g her by asking "pardon?" i n order to get her to c l a r i f y what she was saying. Since th i s experience, Lucy became in c r e a s i n g l y nervous and self-conscious about speaking English. Lucy also f e l t unvalued i n the class since others d i d not seem to appreciate what she had shared with them. She thought maybe her stories were too foreign, and thus i r r e l e v a n t to them: 4 9 You ju s t f e e l l i k e nobody. In fact, people are not f a m i l i a r with your, with your background. You kind of, you know, you f e l t that you're r e a l l y not valued. Moreover, Lucy f e l t there was l i t t l e room for her to speak during the classes as everyone was competing for good marks on class p a r t i c i p a t i o n . The strong sense of competition and the evaluation c r i t e r i a which f a c i l i t a t e d competition were foreign for Lucy; she came from a culture where people work together rather than t r y to outdo one another. Struggling with a foreign language and foreign values, she became increasingly alienated from others. Feelings of i s o l a t i o n i n t e n s i f i e d steadily. It was as i f nobody noticed her although she was a so-called " v i s i b l e minority". She desired to be connected with others but at the same time wished to remain i n v i s i b l e . Besides, no one seemed to have time for her. Lucy i n i t i a l l y thought Canadians were a l l f r i e n d l y because they smiled and said " h i " , but i t soon became obvious that doing so did not mean much to them. It was annoying to Lucy that Canadian students did not even wait for her response after smiling and saying " h i " . To her, t h e i r smiles were not sincere but represented " s u p e r f i c i a l f r i e n d l i n e s s " which d i d not involve any real relationships: Even when they say hello, which i s an opportunity to kind of, ah, get to know them better or there for them to ask how you are doing, so that you say the truth, you f i n d that they don't stop, to even hear your reply, you know. 50 She was so bothered by these smiles that eventually she preferred them not smiling at her rather than giving her " p l a s t i c smiles". The lack of meaningful relationships distressed Lucy. She needed someone to l i s t e n to her and to share her feeli n g s . Lucy wanted to belong, but did not l i k e the fast pace of l i f e i n Canada where people are i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c and goal-oriented. It was a clear contrast from her culture where individ u a l s are part of a large c i r c l e (community). Lucy f e l t others did not have time for her because they had no time for those who were uncertain of themselves: Yeah, you fe e l very i s o l a t e d and the, you were so alone. You don't know who to ask questions. And people are r e a l l y so focused on. They seem to know what they want and have no time, you know, for people who don't seem to know where they are. Yearning for human connection, Lucy missed her family, e s p e c i a l l y her young children l e f t behind i n Kenya. She wondered how they were doing and worried that something bad could happen to them. It was very hard for her to face the fact that she had l i t t l e control over what went on with t h e i r l i v e s . She f e l t g u i l t y and questioned herself for being i n Canada for her own education: ...that's when you r e a l l y questioned being here...because you talk on the phone, and there your children wondering why you were away. You l e f t when they were sleeping, two years ol d . . . they ask you why you can't come and make cakes with them. And there you are, having a hard time 51 Lucy f e l t torn between two worlds: home l i f e with childre n and l i f e i n Canada. The distance from her chi l d r e n was enough to make her f e e l " p a r t i a l l y dead" inside. She expressed t h i s f e e l i n g by drawing herself crying while thinking about her children. Because of a l l the s a c r i f i c e s she made to come to Canada, the pressure to succeed was intense. But because the system was unfamiliar and everything was done i n a foreign language, f a i l u r e seemed imminent. She f e l t as i f she did not know what she was doing i n clas s , and that the academic task was overwhelming. It was very s t r e s s f u l for her, and she thought of givi n g up at times. It was a matter of sur v i v a l . Lucy became p a r t i c u l a r l y frightened when she heard about a female student from A f r i c a whose death had gone unnoticed for a week: F i r s t of a l l , I thought about my s u r v i v a l . I meant r e a l l y surviving, you know, because I thought i t was possible to die there, you know. So I didn't want to have to die i n Canada, you know, come a l l the way to come and die here, oh no. It was scary to think of the p o s s i b i l i t y of death, and out of fear, she decided to declare her p r i o r i t i e s . She t o l d her supervisor that her f i r s t p r i o r i t y was not academic success but to survive. The supervisor showed support and understanding, and subsequently she started s o c i a l i z i n g with those who were 52 supportive. It was important for Lucy to t r y not to dwell on her pain too much so she could cope with the present. Overall, i t was a very s t r e s s f u l period for Lucy. Looking back, she now r e a l i z e s that other students were also stressed out and preoccupied with t h e i r own l i v e s . Currently, Lucy accepts smiling and saying 'hi' to passers-by as a part of Canadian culture, and occasionally finds herself doing the same. She also r e a l i z e s that many others go through the same process as she did, though there may be individual differences. Having come through the experience, Lucy now feels stronger and better-equipped to survive i n a world whose values and culture are d i f f e r e n t from her own. (B) Present L i f e Lucy i s currently right i n the middle of a t r a n s i t i o n . It i s a time to evaluate i f i t was worth coming to Canada before moving beyond being a student. This i s the time to synthesize a l l information i n order to reach a decision about the future. She c a l l s t h i s state "makana" in her language; makana means a state of going back and forth between d i f f e r e n t ideas or options. It i s an uncertain phase where she wonders about how long she w i l l survive and whether she w i l l be able to enjoy l i f e "beyond mere s u r v i v a l " . Her uncertainty i s expressed by questions such as "what next?" and "out where?" i n her drawing (Appendix G) . She i s in-between "coming-in" and "going-out" stages. While Lucy knows that she has a choice of staying i n Canada or going back home, having to make such a decision proves to be 53 very s t r e s s f u l for her. Choosing her new home i s d i f f i c u l t e s p e c i a l l y now that she has l i v e d i n Canada for so long that she does not know which place she can c a l l home: It's a l o t of uncertainty, you know. You know, l i k e where do I go? You know, go back to country, go back home, or do you stay here? Or where' s home now? Is i t the home I knew where I've been away for six years i n the past, you know. Can I s t i l l c a l l that home? How do I define home? She also feels uncertain about bringing her children to Canada because of the effects the t r a n s i t i o n w i l l have on them. Having to think about others before reaching a decision i s very s t r e s s f u l , because she wants to make a right decision for herself and for her family. Though she knows having support would be h e l p f u l , stress makes i t hard to develop a support network for Lucy. For her, i t i s very important to have a community where people help one another regardless of age, gender, and e t h n i c i t y . However, while she knows she can reach out to others, i t i s easy for her to become is o l a t e d because of the school pressure. Nevertheless, Lucy r e a l i z e s that her feelings are normal for those who go through a t r a n s i t i o n , and recognizes that she i s responsible for her own l i f e . Because the present s i t u a t i o n i s so wearying, she hopes i t w i l l end soon. Comparing the f i r s t and second drawings, Lucy recognizes that each depicts di f f e r e n t struggles. In the f i r s t period, the main issue was coming into a new culture and t r y i n g to survive, 54 whereas the issues i n the second drawing concern having to decide the d i r e c t i o n of her l i f e . She also recognizes changes i n her experience. She has been successful at school despite her i n i t i a l uncertainty, and also developed a support network: And your experience change, you know, you've been successful, too. You found friends, you found a few friends here, there, you found that people are not r e a l l y as t e r r i b l e as you thought they were. She now sees a value i n coming to Canada, as she has learnt about another culture and di f f e r e n t ways of looking at the world. It i s important for her to appreciate her gains i n order to make a sound decision about her future, and-because of her achievement, she now feels confident and better-equipped to deal with any new challenges. Lucy feels l i k e she w i l l be able to survive no matter where she chooses to go. (C) Ideal Future L i f e Lucy's drawing of the ideal future l i f e includes such words as "meaningful work", " s a t i s f i e d " , "happy", "love", and "community" (Appendix H). Among them, the most c r i t i c a l aspect for her i s to fin d meaningful work which enables her to support her family. Because of the s a c r i f i c e her chi l d r e n have made for her education, i t i s c r u c i a l for her to be able to support them a f t e r graduation: They (her children) suffered enough toward my programme. So I want to be able to wake up i n the morning knowing where 55 I'm do, going, I'm gonna do, and also (that) I'm gonna support them. She i s hoping that a job w i l l also be meaningful. For her, meaningful work i s a job that has s t a b i l i t y , permanency, a future, and with which she can support others. Lucy would l i k e to obtain a job with some permanency considering her age. While Lucy i s uncertain of what i s required to actualize her i d e a l , she recognizes that she w i l l need time, preparation, and a network. L i v i n g i n a community has a v i t a l meaning for her; she sees that i t i s essential to have a community where people support and help one another reach one's goals. Lucy used a metaphor of a b i r d to symbolize her present fe e l i n g s ; she feels l i k e her wings were taken away for a long time, but now she i s ready to f l y again with her new wings. By doing so, she i s hoping to help other i n t e r n a t i o n a l students see that they too w i l l have a day of f l y i n g high. V i c t o r i a V i c t o r i a i s a 28-year old woman from China who i s married but has no children. The interview took place approximately eight months following her a r r i v a l i n Canada while her husband was s t i l l i n China. (A) I n i t i a l Period V i c t o r i a ' s f i r s t day i n Canada quickly turned from a day f u l l of excitement to that f i l l e d with sorrow and helplessness. She was excited because i t was her f i r s t time to go abroad aft e r a long wait to: see the Western world. However, her excitement 56 only lasted for a short while. When she a r r i v e d at her new home, i t struck her that her l i f e had d r a s t i c a l l y changed, and V i c t o r i a l o s t a l l her energy. She sat by her suitcases and became completely apathetic; she did not want to do anything. The sound of people celebrating Christmas upstairs i n another part of the house further depressed her. She became very sad and f e l t so alone that she started crying: E s p e c i a l l y that day was boxing day. They are celebrating Christmas downstairs, they are playing the music and I don't know anybody here, s i t there, and I don't have any food to eat. I don't even have Canadian d o l l a r . I don't know where i s the bank, you know, know nothing. And I don't know what I can do. So when I hear the music and they laughing and talking, I started to cry. Very very sad and l o s t . The p i c t u r e of herself crying i n her new room was so v i v i d i n her memory that she was able to reproduce i t i n her drawing (Appendix I) . In the following week, as feelings of i s o l a t i o n were further entrenched, she feared for her s u r v i v a l . Because she had always l i v e d with her family, the idea of l i v i n g alone i n a foreign country intimidated her. Moreover, the difference i n money value between Canada and China made her worried; she could no longer expect her family to help her f i n a n c i a l l y . Without family or friends and everything being so expensive and foreign, V i c t o r i a became f e a r f u l i f she could survive i n t h i s new country. It was a d i f f i c u l t f i r s t week characterized by fear and depression. In spite of having much free time, she was too 57 a f r a i d to go out; everything was foreign, she had no sense of dir e c t i o n , and was scared of having to speak i n English: Just I'm so scared. I don't know everything here. I was scared of l o s t . I don't dare to ta l k to people at that time. I think my English i s not good. I just want to be hide, to hide behind some place. Wanting to hide from people, V i c t o r i a stayed home with the landlord's family and t r i e d not to f e e l her emotions. She knew i t would be better as the time went by. Her depression was so overwhelming that she often stayed i n bed during the day. And whenever she dozed off, she had a dream of being i n China. Deep sorrow and hopelessness struck her af t e r she woke up. She f e l t as i f she may never be able to go back home: When I just wake up, I s t i l l think I was i n China, but then several, after several seconds, I r e a l i z e , I can't, I have to stay here. Very, very sad. It's just l i k e , I can't go back, you know, forever, I was separated from my father forever. The s i t u a t i o n seemed to improve when V i c t o r i a v i s i t e d the school with her landlord a week a f t e r her a r r i v a l . I t was exci t i n g to go to school as by then she was bored of staying home. She walked around on the campus with the landlord, and gained a p o s i t i v e impression about the school. What surprised her was the number of crows she saw on the campus. It was a l i t t l e ominous as black birds symbolized bad luck i n her culture. A f t e r a while, V i c t o r i a went to her department and met a woman at 58 the front desk. She t r i e d to appear brave while f e e l i n g a f r a i d and nervous inside. The f i r s t few weeks of school were p o s i t i v e for V i c t o r i a . Although the f i r s t week of school was disori e n t a t i n g , meetings with her advisor and a professor l e f t her with a sense of hope as they were both reassuring. She t r i e d to be active during classes and began to f e e l good about herself a f t e r receiving p o s i t i v e affirmation from an instructor. Her l i f e seemed to have started to move i n a pos i t i v e d i r e c t i o n : It's just started, so I was very active. I t r i e d to speak more. So Dr. Wong said, "Oh you are f a n t a s t i c " . He said because he know I just arrive here for several days. He said usually Asian students w i l l be very shy and, you know, very quiet. So, you know, I f e e l r e a l l y good about myself. However, the experience took another turn a f t e r a couple of weeks. V i c t o r i a found herself unable to understand lectures and could not par t i c i p a t e i n discussions. It was a recurrence of the negative feelings she had f e l t upon a r r i v a l . .She was a f r a i d that her English was not good enough, and she could not comprehend the sudden change of her status. It was l i k e having f a l l e n from a competent student to an incompetent one: I was so used to be the top one... And now here, I, you know, I f e e l myself almost the l a s t one.. A l l of a sudden... I can't understand. Her confidence quickly dissipated as a consequence, and V i c t o r i a began to see herself i n a negative l i g h t . Her 59 classmates t r i e d to help her, yet she f e l t as though others saw her as a "stupid" person with no opinions. She was s e n s i t i v e about how she appeared i n the eyes of Canadian students who seemed so used to expressing themselves. The s i t u a t i o n seemed beyond her control, and i t was so hopeless that she dropped one course; there was then only one course which required c l a s s p a r t i c i p a t i o n . Yet, having even one course f e l t l i k e a heavy burden for her. The lectures were loaded with t h e o r e t i c a l terms, and she f e l t exhausted after every class. A l l the academic tasks were quite new to her, and V i c t o r i a worried p a r t i c u l a r l y about a class presentation. She did not know how to conduct a presentation because she had never done that before, nor d i d she think she knew enough to do so. While textbooks became her major resource, she constantly worried about f a i l i n g the course and about her academic future. Her feelings about h e r s e l f were extremely negative: I lose my self-confidence. Every aspect i s out of control, I can do nothing r i g h t . So the f e e l i n g of myself i s very bad, you know. Consequently, V i c t o r i a started withdrawing at school. Her negative self-image led to depression and a sense of i s o l a t i o n ; lack of a support network further exacerbated the s i t u a t i o n . It was too frightening to speak to others, and she became so depressed that she just wanted to stay home. Even on Chinese New Year which i s a major holiday for Chinese, she d i d not want to go 60 out and celebrate. So she phoned home instead, but became more sad because she could hear her family celebrating together. She was c r i t i c i z e d , however, when she shared her feelings with her father. He t o l d her to change her attitude, which l e f t her f e e l i n g l i k e she was not being understood. However, her father's c r i t i c i s m eventually became a resource that gave her d i r e c t i o n . V i c t o r i a started reconsidering her father's words because of a high respect for him and a strong connection she had with him. She began to think she should take the proactive approach as her father had suggested. Later on, her father sent her a l e t t e r . The l e t t e r became a source of strength during times when she f e l t sad and alone: He (her father) write the whole big, l i k e several pages l e t t e r to me. And when I f e e l bad, I read i t again, again, again, and again. And i t r e a l l y give me a kind of s p i r i t u a l encouragement. Looking back, V i c t o r i a recognizes her own role i n making the s i t u a t i o n d i f f i c u l t , but at the same time she r e a l i z e s what she did during that period (staying home with the landlord's family) was a way of protecting herself. The f i r s t period remains a strong memory of struggle and sadness which w i l l never be forgotten. (B) Present L i f e V i c t o r i a drew be a u t i f u l scenery to symbolize her feelings about her current l i f e (Appendix I ) . During the previous summer she began to enjoy l i f e by going out and exploring d i f f e r e n t 61 places. Her s i s t e r , who l i v e d i n the United States, provided her with support and encouragement during the f i r s t period, and t h i s helped her a great deal. She now feels being i n control and feels as i f she were a Canadian. V i c t o r i a r e a l i z e s some international students are not happy with t h e i r l i v e s here, but she i s quite happy. V i c t o r i a ' s p o s i t i v e outlook on l i f e extends to her f i n a n c i a l future since she was granted f i n a n c i a l aid. Upon a r r i v a l , she r e a l i z e d that she could not r e l y on her parents because of the difference i n value of currency between Canada and China. It has been f r u s t r a t i n g and at times i t seemed impossible to support h e r s e l f considering her li m i t e d language a b i l i t y and knowledge about Canada. Thus, the news of being granted f i n a n c i a l a i d gave her a sense of hope. V i c t o r i a began to f e e l o p t i m i s t i c about her f i n a n c i a l future. The academic s i t u a t i o n had also improved, and t h i s s o l i d i f i e d her self-confidence. V i c t o r i a had achieved high grades at the end of the f i r s t term with her advisor's help and support. During the summer she t r i e d to meet various people and involve herself with various a c t i v i t i e s : So summertime i s coming and I t r i e d to p a r t i c i p a t e i n volunteer a c t i v i t y i n international house, yeah, started to contact those people, getting to know people. Just a c t i v e l y tr y to get more money and chances, you know. So i n the summer, I f e e l very, quite good, yeah, I think, j u s t l i k e I'm Canadian. 62 She also audited a course she had once dropped. By the end of the second semester, V i c t o r i a achieved a high mark i n the course she had once given up. This was a s i g n i f i c a n t achievement for her since i t involved a f i n a l exam with essay questions which presented a s i g n i f i c a n t challenge for her. Although V i c t o r i a ' s future has many uncertainties, a p o s i t i v e self-perception and feelings of being i n con t r o l enabled her to stay o p t i m i s t i c . She has coll e c t e d information, and now re a l i z e s that she has options such as moving to the United States for further education. She no longer worries about her future, because she feels competent in making her own decisions and because she believes focusing on the p o s i t i v e w i l l empower her to cope with future challenges. V i c t o r i a i s not a f r a i d of l i f e anymore because she i s i n control: But at least I, I can, you know, think by myself. Yeah, I can make decision by myself now. I f e e l r e a l l y good. (C) Ideal Future L i f e V i c t o r i a pictures her ideal l i f e as l i v i n g i n Canada with her family, as indicated i n her drawing (Appendix J) . While i t has been her dream to l i v e i n a Western country because of the li m i t e d options i n China, being united with her family i s also important for her. Thus, the most pressing task i s to obtain permanent resident status i n order to sponsor her family to l i v e i n Canada. She p a r t i c u l a r l y wishes to have her husband come to Canada as soon as possible, because she feels separation has a detrimental e f f e c t on t h e i r marriage. 63 Another dream i s to become a professional. She wishes to have a career, s p e c i a l i z i n g possibly i n counselling or special education. Whatever the s p e c i a l i z a t i o n would be, she would l i k e to have a meaningful job which would allow her to be creative and h e l p f u l . She does not want to become an elementary teacher or an o f f i c e worker with routine tasks. In her i d e a l l i f e , she and her husband would be professionals and they would l i v e i n a house with a view of a beach and mountains. She also would l i k e to have a baby someday. V i c t o r i a r e a l i z e s that studying hard and f i n d i n g a job a f t e r graduation w i l l help her actualize her dreams. Because the most important goal i s to bring her family together, she i s w i l l i n g to take a non-professional job at least temporarily. While her family i s playing a major role i n determining her future, she i s also looking at other p o s s i b i l i t i e s (getting further education i n Canada or the U. S.) i n case i t does not work out to bring her family to Canada. Jamie Jamie i s a 25-year old female graduate student from China. She i s single, and came to Canada for further education approximately eight months before the interview. At the time of the interview, she was l i v i n g by herself i n Vancouver. (A) I n i t i a l Period Jamie was f u l l of fear and excitement when she v i s i t e d her Canadian school for the f i r s t time, but soon became overwhelmed by c u l t u r a l differences between her home and Canada. 64 Registration posed the f i r s t challenge since at home everything was l a i d out for students; a l l she had to do was to go to the designated classes and l i s t e n to the i n s t r u c t o r s . Terms used for r e g i s t r a t i o n , such as "seminars" and "lectures", were confusing, and she had to ask other students and professors for help. She was overwhelmed by the fact that she had to do everything on her own, and i t took her a while to get used to the idea. In contrast, the f i r s t day of class revealed a welcome surprise. Not knowing anything about Canada, she was nervous about the idea of studying i n English with Caucasians. Thus, i t was a pleasant surprise to f i n d Chinese students i n the class. She f e l t much better after having talked with them. The differences between Canadian and Chinese schools became obvious as the class proceeded. Canadian students interacted a c t i v e l y with instructors, which was very d i f f e r e n t from China where students r a r e l y spoke out. She also f e l t that inst r u c t o r s i n Canada were not so s t r i c t as those at home. Seeing these differences was exciting and i n t e r e s t i n g for her. However, the experience took another turn when Jamie faced unfamiliar academic tasks. Assignments caused a great deal of anxiety because she had no idea what was expected of her. She wondered how she could do the task, and constantly f e l t unsure i f she was doing what was expected. In her struggle, language became a pressing issue and a source of f r u s t r a t i o n . She could not understand lectures f u l l y , and while she t r i e d to compensate for t h i s by studying textbooks, 65 t h i s resulted i n greater f r u s t r a t i o n because she could not read quickly: And i t (reading) was so slow, yeah. Some, sometimes even one hour, I probably only read l i k e two pages or so, yeah. The lack of language s k i l l s led to anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. Jamie believed that others saw her as a slow person when she spoke English, and she consequently became very sensi t i v e about speaking English. It was very f r u s t r a t i n g and worrisome for her, because she did not know whether her English was, or would ever be, good enough to study with Canadians. This led her to f e e l pessimistic about her future. The f i r s t period i s also characterized by i s o l a t i o n . Jamie remembers standing alone watching other students t a l k i n g happily with one another. Jamie expressed this f e e l i n g by drawing herself as a brown smaller figure while drawing others large and i n bright colours (Appendix K). She explained that the colour of her figure symbolized the loneliness she f e l t , and the small size represented her negative feelings about he r s e l f . While f e e l i n g d i f f e r e n t and separated from others, Jamie dreamt of the day when she could j o i n the group: Yeah, they may be, you know, several people together and, yeah, and they are, they are, they are t a l k i n g happy news, and anyway, so so. And I'm, I'm kind of l o n e l i f u l . I f someday I could speak r e a l l y well and I have friends and, wow, that w i l l be r e a l l y nice. Look at these people, they are so happy and... Yeah, how come I cannot j o i n that world, you know. 66 However, Jamie knew that the day would not come soon. She was f e a r f u l and worried, wondering how long i t might take her to be able to l i v e l i k e other people having many friends and being happy. During t h i s period, she f e l t so small and i n v i s i b l e that she f e l t as i f others ignored her. She was lonely and d i d not have much confidence. Looking back, Jamie now recognizes how much her English has improved since she came to Canada. She feels a sense of awe over the change that happened since the i n i t i a l period. (B) Present L i f e Jamie's present l i f e i s characterized by a sense of being normal, and t h i s i s depicted i n her drawing (Appendix K); the sky i s normal and she i s no d i f f e r e n t from others. The figure of herself has the same colour and exactly the same s i z e as others. Its colour can change as her moods change, "sometimes blue, sometimes clouded, just l i k e normal people". Feeling no d i f f e r e n t from others, she i s now comfortable i n Canada and feels good about being independent. While her f e e l i n g of being d i f f e r e n t has decreased, Jamie s t i l l senses distance from Canadians. She has some Canadian friends but they are not close. Considering the fact that she feels close to other international students, there seems to be a c u l t u r a l b a r r i e r between herself and Canadians. Likewise, Jamie sees herself as being in-between two cultures. Although Canadian culture has become more f a m i l i a r as 6 7 her knowledge of Canada has increased, she feels she cannot change herself to become Canadian. This leads her to f e e l uncertain about how to behave around Canadians because she does not know i f they see her as "Chinese" or just "another student". One example i s whether to c a l l professors by t h e i r f i r s t names. She knows c a l l i n g them by t h e i r f i r s t names i s commonly accepted i n graduate schools i n Canada, yet wonders i f they think her to be rude because i t i s not appropriate i n China. There does not seem to be a way that transcends cultures, and thi s causes her to f e e l confused about how she should behave i n order to be considered favourably: Yeah, I know Canadian i s that, you know. But which, which way s h a l l I choose, I just f e e l r e a l l y confused, you know. Is which way they w i l l accept me more, you know. Despite f e e l i n g confused at times and distant from Canadians, Jamie has some close friends and t h i s has helped her fe e l a part of the world. She now feels included, and does not become jealous when she sees others talking happily with t h e i r friends. She also enjoys exchanging ideas with a few Canadian friends who sometimes explain Canadian ways to her. Academic success has also contributed to her p o s i t i v e feelings towards her current l i f e . Jamie gained self-confidence when she discovered that she could compete favourably with Canadian students. Now, she does not l e t the language l i m i t a t i o n bother her because she knows that she i s a capable person. When 68 people are impatient with her English, she just reminds h e r s e l f that she i s not i n f e r i o r to them as she can speak two languages: Sometimes I ac t u a l l y encountered some people, you know, they are quite impatient when they wait for a long time to get my response because I just cannot pick up the ri g h t word to express my... But I f e l t , "Oh well, probably I'm even better than you. I know other language. I'm not bad at anything." Her feelings have changed since f i r s t a r r i v i n g here. With increased f a m i l i a r i t y and knowledge about Canada and heightened self-confidence, Jamie now feels i n control of her l i f e . (C) Ideal Future L i f e Jamie mixed d i f f e r e n t colours in her ide a l future drawing to represent a va r i e t y of a c t i v i t i e s (Appendix L ) . The drawing includes times for working hard at her job, relaxing, and enjoying herself, and changes i n colour depending on what she chooses to do and how she feels at a certain time: If I would draw a l i f e pictures, so probably i t ' s l i k e a, i t should be changeable. Sometimes maybe green, sometimes yellow, and sometimes even r e a l l y , I would use these kind of r e a l l y bold colour, i t ' s l i k e r e a l l y kind of heavy, stressed out and serious, hard working. For her, balancing work and leisure i s important as she sees both as complementary. She also thinks she would f e e l g u i l t y i f she did not work hard. For Jamie, i t means integrating the vi r t u e s of Canadian and Chinese cultures since she considers being 69 industrious i s a Chinese t r a d i t i o n whereas being relaxed i s a Canadian c h a r a c t e r i s t i c . While Jamie appreciates having inherited Chinese values which she feels make her a serious person, she would l i k e to add some " l i g h t colour" into her l i f e by incorporating Canadian culture. However, there are certain Canadian values she does not want to influence her. One such value involves having intimate relationships before marriage. While Jamie admits that her perception may be affected by her own prejudice of Canadian culture, she f e e l s Chinese people take such r e l a t i o n s h i p s more serious l y than her Canadian counterparts. She prefers the t r a d i t i o n a l Chinese way because she thinks i t helps people to be more l o y a l to t h e i r partners. Family occupies an important part i n Jamie's i d e a l p i c t u r e . Family provides her with a working team to face l i f e together. This includes having a partner with whom she can share the hardships of l i f e . Friends can be helpful, yet she f e e l s they cannot replace family. In order to actualize her ideal l i f e , Jamie r e a l i z e s she needs time. With time she w i l l be able to absorb more about Canadian culture and to enhance her English language a b i l i t y . She also perceives a degree and academic success to be necessary to reach her goal. Furthermore, to r e a l i z e her i d e a l l i f e , i t w i l l be h e l p f u l to have a close relationship. 70 Katherine Katherine i s a female Chinese student who came to Canada to further pursue her education. She i s i n her early 30s and l i v e s with her husband and the i r two-year old daughter. Her husband i s also Chinese and works i n a l o c a l store. They are hoping that he w i l l be enrolled i n a Canadian university soon. The interview took place approximately ten months after her a r r i v a l i n Vancouver. (A) I n i t i a l Period Katherine was very excited and nervous on the day she was to go to a Canadian school for the f i r s t time. It was because i t had taken her one year to actualize her dream. During that one year, Katherine had many concerns: her English s k i l l s may not be enough to compete i n a graduate school and class format and textbooks may be completely di f f e r e n t i n Canada. Support and encouragement from her Canadian friends were valuable i n t h i s period. She f e l t that without them she may have given up the idea of going to Canada. But when i t came, Katherine's f i r s t v i s i t to school was marked by a careless remark by a Canadian professor. She unexpectantly met a professor and was quite nervous during t h e i r conversation. When the professor phoned her supervisor, however, Katherine heard him refer to her as "a young lady who could not speak English very well". Katherine was shocked. She thought her English was f a i r l y good for an international student. She described her feelings as follows: 71 Yeah, i t was r e a l l y shock to me because I was thinking my English was okay when I was i n China. And compare to other Chinese students, my, ah, how do you say that, my o r a l English i s not too bad. Yeah, at, at l e a s t compared to those, urn, Chinese counterparts. And I was thinking, "Okay, i f they can handle them, I can handle them as well". But the f i r s t day, he said that. She f e l t depressed, yet, despite her inner turmoil, she thanked him and l e f t as i f nothing had happened. She knew he meant no harm. After this encounter, however, Katherine became increasingly nervous about speaking English. She also f e l t an urgency to improve English. In contrast, the f i r s t day of class started on a more po s i t i v e note. Because of the support from other i n t e r n a t i o n a l students, Katherine f e l t confident i n handling school. She was nervous, but more curious to see what would happen on that day. It was a nice surprise to f i n d several Chinese students i n the classroom. Katherine became happy as her school l i f e seemed to have a good s t a r t . Her p o s i t i v e f e e l i n g and optimism dissipated, however, as soon as the lecture started. Katherine could not understand the instructor's English because of his heavy accent, and the content was also not very i n t e r e s t i n g . She decided to withdraw after several classes. During the i n i t i a l period, language posed the biggest challenge for Katherine. She did not f e e l that she was doing well, and was constantly worried about her studies. She f e l t insecure and anxious every time she met her supervisor. It was 72 very s t r e s s f u l , and the pressure she f e l t was heavy l i k e the backpack she drew (a backpack symbolizes both the mental and physical burden she had to carry a l l the time). Majoring i n science, however, relieved some stress since Katherine mainly dealt with numbers and symbols rather than language. The i n i t i a l period was also characterized by her diminished self-concept. Although there were many Chinese students i n her department, Katherine f e l t the dominant presence of Canadians (this was depicted by the large figures i n her drawing, Appendix M) . It seemed that the majority of people at school were those who were born and brought up i n Canada, and, therefore, knew the system, and had no problem getting around. Katherine f e l t small compared to others around her. In t h i s challenging situation, other students from China served as a major source of support. They provided her with advice, information, and encouragement. Because they were f r i e n d l y and he l p f u l , she f e l t as i f they were walking beside her. Katherine also enjoyed the peaceful and natural environment of Vancouver. Having gone through the f i r s t period, Katherine now c l e a r l y sees her goal as obtaining a degree. She feels confident and believes that she can achieve her goal. (B) Present L i f e Katherine sees her present l i f e as the toughest period because of several new challenges. Her drawing shows herself, 73 her daughter, and her husband going i n separate ways to places • that are s t r e s s f u l for each of them (Appendix M): Everybody's unwilling to go to those places. My husband doesn't want to go to the bakery. My daughter, she doesn't want to go to the baby-sitter. Me, myself, I would l i k e to go to university but s t i l l there's so many d i f f i c u l t i e s out there waiting for me. Katherine's l i f e has d r a s t i c a l l y changed since the i n i t i a l period because she changed her major and gave b i r t h to her daughter. Since she changed majors from science to arts, language and finances have become more pressing issues for Katherine. The school demands have become heavier as she now has to read, write, and give presentations i n English. The f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n has become more constrained because there i s less f i n a n c i a l a i d availa b l e i n her current department,compared to her previous one. However, her current major i s more interesting, and t h i s helps her to stay motivated. She feels much better about her subject and enjoys t a l k i n g to her supervisor. In her family l i f e , Katherine i s experiencing stress and a sense of g u i l t . Her g u i l t stems from the fact that she has l i t t l e time for her family and she sends her daughter to a baby-s i t t e r . During one p a r t i c u l a r l y s t r e s s f u l period her daughter c r i e d constantly. Katherine t r i e d to r e l i e v e the s i t u a t i o n by changing baby-sitters, but to no a v a i l . She d i d not know why her daughter c r i e d so much, and worried about what was happening with the baby-sitters. While the situ a t i o n has since improved, her 74 daughter s t i l l seems unhappy. Despite a l l the stress, however, Katherine recognizes the joy she gains from her daughter (to symbolize t h i s , she drew her daughter i n red, appendix M) . Katherine also feels g u i l t y about her husband because she goes to school while he works. Although she recognizes her husband's gains, she feels he has lost something since he came here e s p e c i a l l y because he was a competitive student i n China: I f e e l g u i l t y about my, I mean to him (her husband) as well, because, as I said he was the best student i n our... As I said, we were classmates i n high school and he was the best and he went to the number one u n i v e r s i t y i n China. And he came here simply because I came here. And because of his language, he had to go to work i n a bakery. Moreover, the heavy school load leads her to study even during weekends, and she feels g u i l t y about not having time for her family. She perceives that her husband i s unhappy, and i s hoping that they w i l l be happier once he enrolls i n a u n i v e r s i t y and once she graduates. (C) Ideal Future L i f e Katherine's drawing of her ideal future l i f e i s i n bright pink and a l l her family members are happy together i n a house (Appendix N) . In her drawing, she has few f i n a n c i a l worries and i s happy with her family. Katherine i s hoping to be enroll e d i n a Ph.D. program and hopes that l i f e w i l l be better for herself and her family once she obtains a job a f t e r graduation. Katherine also hopes that her family w i l l be able to enjoy each other's company when the f i n a n c i a l stress i s r e l i e v e d . She 75 would l i k e to spend more time with her family and enjoy nature with them. She hopes that her daughter w i l l have "whatever the other kids have". Katherine has a very strong wish for her daughter to become educated. She thinks this may be because of her c u l t u r a l background where education i s deemed to be most important. To her, education i s a passport for a better l i f e because i t w i l l enable her daughter to develop a career and become independent. She also feels that with education her daughter w i l l have a better chance of becoming well-mannered, keeping h e r s e l f occupied, and possibly finding a good husband. Nonetheless, Katherine hopes that the task of going to school w i l l not be as s t r e s s f u l for her daughter as i t was for h e r s e l f . A l l the family members have a road to reach t h e i r goals i n Katherine's i d e a l l i f e drawing (Appendix N) . For her husband, she hopes that he w i l l be able to f u l f i l l h is academic po t e n t i a l by going to a university i n Canada. That might lead to a better l i f e for them because both of them w i l l be pro f e s s i o n a l s . Katherine believes hard work, both i n terms of her study and language, w i l l lead to the achievement of her i d e a l l i f e . She also recognizes that time and opportunity w i l l play a role i n ac t u a l i z i n g her goal. Summary of Common Themes Themes are reported under the three phases of adjustment suggested by Schlossberg (1981): moving i n , moving through, and moving out. This section summarizes only the common themes that 76 were reported by more than two p a r t i c i p a n t s . A summary of unique themes are presented i n Appendix 0 . In each phase, the following three categories are used to d i f f e r e n t i a t e aspects of the partic i p a n t s ' experiences: emotional dynamics, external dynamics, and behavioural dynamics. Emotional dynamics are emotions and feelings the p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced, while external dynamics represent events and s i t u a t i o n a l factors that the participants perceived. Themes under the behavioural dynamics summarize behaviours that the p a r t i c i p a n t s took i n reaction to the i r emotional states and external dynamics. The summary of themes i s presented i n Table 1 (numbers i n brackets s i g n i f y the number of participants who reported each theme). TABLE 1 Summary of Themes Moving In - Anticipation Period Common Themes Unique Themes Emotional Dynamics Excitement (2) Fear(2) Loneliness (2) Nervousness (2) Shame External Dynamics Cold Weather (2) Communication Difficulties (2) Facing Foreign Tasks Lack of Support Behavioral Dynamics Problem-Solving (3) Repression of Feelings (2) 77 Moving Through - I n i t i a l Period Common Themes Unique Themes Emotional Dynamics Reported by More Than Three Nervousness (5) Fear(4) Loneliness (4) Feeling of Inadequacy (4) Feeling of Invisibility (4) Excitement, Curiosity (3) Reported by Two Depression (2) Overwhelmed (2) Sense of Having an Ally (2) Guilty and Torn Confusion of Self-Perception External Dynamics Interpersonal Issues (5) Communication Difficulties (5) Structural Issues (3) Physical Environment (3) Behavioral Dynamics Problem-Solving (4) Withdrawal (3) Using metaphorical support Moving Out - Present Life Common Themes Unique Themes Emotional Dynamics Reported by More Than Three Self-Confidence (5) Uncertainty about Future (4) Increased Comfort (3) Reported by Two Sense of Belonging (2) Financial Pressure (2) Stress (2) Guilt Isolation Disappointment with school External Dynamics Reported by More Than Three Interpersonal Issues (4) Academic Life (4) Reported by Two Family (2) Future (2) Identity Issue Behavioral Dynamics Problem-Solving (3) Active Involvement with Family. Living Independently 78 Moving In - Anticipation Period This period extends from a period where the participants waited for t h e i r departure to Canada u n t i l the time t h e i r f i r s t class began. (A) Emotional Dynamics Excitement, Fear, Loneliness, and Nervousness While excitement, fear, and loneliness are commonly experienced by several, not a l l the participants experienced strong emotions i n thi s period. This period posed a major challenge, p a r t i c u l a r l y for V i c t o r i a . She described how she was suddenly struck by a fe e l i n g of apathy when she was dropped o f f at her new home: And I just s i t i n the room. And suddenly, you know, I don't have any mood to, to be happy or to look around, you know. I just don't know what to do. I just s i t , sat there. For a week, V i c t o r i a was depressed and f e l t alone. Her fe e l i n g of nervousness on her f i r s t v i s i t to school was shared by one other p a r t i c i p a n t . (B) External Dynamics Two common dynamics were found as external factors that influenced the participants' l i v e s before s t a r t i n g school. They were cold weather and communication d i f f i c u l t i e s . Cold Weather and Communication D i f f i c u l t i e s Two participants reported cold weather and communication d i f f i c u l t i e s as i n f l u e n t i a l factors during the period before the 79 f i r s t class began. V i c t o r i a remembered the day she arrived i n Canada as cold and dark, and t h i s impression set a tone for the d i f f i c u l t f i r s t week where she faced her new l i f e without much support. She also experienced the f i r s t conversation with a Canadian as that of misunderstanding. Katherine remembered the heavy snow on the day she v i s i t e d school for the f i r s t time. Katherine also experienced her f i r s t conversation with a Canadian i n an unfavourable way; she heard the man r e f e r r i n g to her as "a lady who could not speak English very well". This experience resulted i n i n t e n s i f y i n g her anxiety about English. (C) Behavioural Dynamics Two common themes were i d e n t i f i e d . The common themes were problem-solving attempts and repression of fee l i n g s . Problem-Solving Attempts Three participants reported that they made some attempts to improve t h e i r situations. These actions included seeking help, t r y i n g out a new academic course, and tr y i n g to make sense of t h e i r experiences. V i c t o r i a asked various people to help her with d i f f e r e n t tasks during the i n i t i a l period. She asked her landlord to accompany her to school as i t was intimidating to go there alone, and requested a course consultation with her supervisor when the school started. Katherine t r i e d to make sense of what happened after having heard someone speak negatively of her English. It was her way of coping with feelings that were evoked by this incident. 80 Repression of Feelings Two participants described that they t r i e d to repress t h e i r emotions by try i n g not to f e e l them or to conceal them. Katherine attempted not to show her shock when she heard a negative evaluation of her English. V i c t o r i a was nervous when she talked to a Canadian for the f i r s t time, but acted to the contrary. V i c t o r i a also t r i e d not to f e e l emotions when she was depressed for a week since her a r r i v a l i n Canada. Moving Through - The I n i t i a l Period This period i s defined as a period of struggling i n a new environment which began with the f i r s t c l ass. (A) Emotional Dynamics Nine emotional responses emerged as common to some par t i c i p a n t s . While each of these i s defined and reported i n separate sections, they frequently overlapped one another i n the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences. Of nine common themes, those experienced by more than three participants were nervousness, fear, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, i n v i s i b i l i t y , and excitement and c u r i o s i t y . Two participants reported experiencing depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, and a sense of having a l l i e s . Themes Reported by More Than Three Participants Nervousness Nervousness was one of the dominant emotions reported by a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s . This f e e l i n g was explained as f e e l i n g worried, 81 anxious, insecure, uncertain, and sensitive to others' evaluation. While i n s e c u r i t y about one's English seemed to contribute to thi s f e e l i n g , facing unfamiliar s i t u a t i o n s and tasks also p r e c i p i t a t e d t h e i r nervousness. Jamie described her anxiety about being assigned foreign academic tasks as follows: I f e l t kind of worried, yeah, writing assignments, how am I going to catch up? Similarly, Lucy described her nervous feelings as follows: When you go to classes, you fe e l l i k e you don't know what you are doing here. Then, you are t o l d you gonna have to write a thesis. Then, they come with a proposal, and you l i k e , "Oh, what on earth i s that?", you know. Several participants expressed that they f e l t nervous and i n f e r i o r because Canadian students seemed so competent. Lucy described her feelings as follows: You see, most Canadians who go to graduate studies seem to know what they want. And they talk a l o t . And you found that sometimes there's no space to talk, you know, whether you want i t or not. Katherine f e l t that Canadians had a dominant presence i n her department. Jamie drew a larger figure to represent Canadians while drawing herself as a small person. 82 Fear A person i s f e e l i n g f e a r f u l when she/he i s a f r a i d or scared. Four participants indicated having experienced t h i s f e e l i n g during t h e i r i n i t i a l period i n Canada. Their accounts indicated that the following three factors contributed to t h e i r fear: a lack of f a m i l i a r i t y , diminished self-confidence, and uncertainty over the duration of the current s i t u a t i o n . For example, V i c t o r i a described that she was f e a r f u l because everything (including the surroundings, people, and the language) was foreign for her. She was scared of getting l o s t and of having to speak to people outside of her home. The second factor concerns self-confidence they l o s t upon a r r i v a l . Miguel was a f r a i d of talking to Canadians because he did not f e e l confident about his English. V i c t o r i a l o s t her self-confidence as she could not understand the lectures and became withdrawn i n school. The t h i r d contributing factor was uncertainty about how long the challenging s i t u a t i o n would l a s t . Lucy became f e a r f u l because she thought that she could become alienated to the point where she could die i n i s o l a t i o n . Katherine was scared of the prospect that the i n i t i a l s i t u a t i o n could l a s t very long. Loneliness A person f e e l s lonely when she/he feels alone and i s o l a t e d or alienated from others. It was a major challenge f o r four participants i n the i n i t i a l period. Two p a r t i c i p a n t s described a s i t u a t i o n where they were watching a group of students t a l k i n g 83 happily. Jamie described that she f e l t so far away from the others i n spite of being so close to them i n physical proximity: See, from the geography perspective, maybe I'm quite close to them. I mean, compared to when I was i n China, now I'm close to Caucasians. But I'm s t i l l far away from them. Lucy's fear of becoming i s o l a t e d i n t e n s i f i e d when she heard of a dead woman from her home country whose body went unnoticed for a week. Feeling of Inadequacy A f e e l i n g of inadequacy was another dominant emotion reported by four p a r t i c i p a n t s . This f e e l i n g was defined as a person f e e l i n g stupid or slow, or feeling that her/his s t o r i e s are meaningless and i r r e l e v a n t . It i s characterized by a lack of self-confidence i n one's c a p a b i l i t i e s . Lucy described her feelings of inadequacy when other students i n the class interrupted her by saying "Pardon?". She further f e l t that her stories were not valued i n the class because they were foreign. Jamie explained her feelings of appearing slow to other students who seemed so quick i n t h e i r thinking. V i c t o r i a was a f r a i d of appearing stupid, and consequently grew sensitive about others' opinion of her. She described her feelings as follows: I think they have the f e e l i n g this student, you know, so quiet and don't have any there, my own opinion, you know. Because Canadian students, they are so used to express themselves, to, to show up. So I was quite 84 s e n s i t i v e i n this aspect, other people's opinion on me and appearance especially. Miguel f e l t so ashamed of himself for not being able to speak English that he became withdrawn i n school. Feeling of I n v i s i b i l i t y A f e e l i n g of i n v i s i b i l i t y was accompanied by a f e e l i n g of inadequacy i n many instances. That i s , a person f e e l i n g inadequate may be l i k e l y to f e e l i n v i s i b l e as w e l l . However, the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' accounts indicated that they f e l t completely ignored when they f e l t i n v i s i b l e , while a f e e l i n g of inadequacy seemed to have more to do with i n v a l i d a t i o n of t h e i r c a p a b i l i t i e s . Thus, when they f e l t i n v i s i b l e , i t was a f e e l i n g of people not seeing their whole existence. This f e e l i n g was accompanied by feelings of shame, of being foreign, of being small, of not belonging, and of being ignored. Three reported having f e l t t h i s f e e l i n g during the i n i t i a l period. Jamie reported that she f e l t others ignored her as i f she were "out of the group". This led her to f e e l small compared to others. Lucy explained that she f e l t i n v i s i b l e i n classes as i f she were a nobody. Excitement and C u r i o s i t y Three participants reported having f e l t excited i n the beginning of t h e i r i n i t i a l period i n Canada. An i n d i v i d u a l i s excited when he/she feels active and curious to discover the differences between the i r home culture and host culture. Katherine was excited and curious on her f i r s t day of school i n 85 Canada. Jamie was excited that she could see differences i n the ways i n which the instructor and students interacted with one another. V i c t o r i a described that everything was new and exc i t i n g on the f i r s t day of school. Themes Reported by Two Participants Depression Two participants reported having f e l t depressed during t h e i r i n i t i a l period. They described this f e e l i n g as f e e l i n g grey, sad, and apathetic. Jamie expressed her f e e l i n g by drawing hers e l f i n neutral colours, and explained that she was f e e l i n g grey while seeing others as colourful figures. V i c t o r i a experienced an intense f e e l i n g of apathy upon a r r i v a l . She r e a l i z e d that her l i f e had changed, and had no energy to take any action. She also described that she slept a great deal even during the day, when she f e l t sad and down. Feeling of Being Overwhelmed An i n d i v i d u a l feels overwhelmed when she/he f e e l s having l i t t l e control over the situ a t i o n at hand. Two p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced t h i s f e e l i n g . Miguel reported having f e l t overwhelmed when the instructor started a lecture i n the f i r s t c l a s s . The instructor spoke very fast and Miguel could not understand most of i t . Jamie described that she f e l t she had no control over the s i t u a t i o n and that she could not p r e d i c t what would happen next while i n the i n i t i a l period. 86 Sense of Having A l l i e s Two described that.support by other i n t e r n a t i o n a l students was a valuable element i n dealing with the challenges of t h e i r i n i t i a l period. A person feels supported when she/he perceives her/his feelings to be understood and validated, and when she/he receives encouragement, reassurance, and help from others. Katherine described that she f e l t as i f "other Chinese students were walking beside her" i n the i n i t i a l period. Because of t h e i r reassurance, she f e l t confident of handling school l i f e i n Canada. Jamie's anxiety was reduced at the sight of Chinese students i n her f i r s t class i n Canada. She described that she was nervous when she entered the classroom but became much more comfortable aft e r t a l k i n g to these students. These descriptions indicate that a sense of sharing the same struggle played an important role i n dealing with their new l i v e s i n Canada. Mutual support seemed to give a sense of community and of having an a l l y for these p a r t i c i p a n t s . (B) External Dynamics Five areas were i d e n t i f i e d as common s i t u a t i o n a l factors that influenced the participants' experiences during the i n i t i a l period since t h e i r f i r s t class. They were interpersonal issues, language d i f f i c u l t i e s , structural issues, and physical environment. A l l of them were reported by more than three p a r t i c i p a n t s . 87 Interpersonal Issues A l l the participants experienced issues r e l a t e d to interpersonal relationships. These issues include experiencing d i f f i c u l t y i n bonding with Canadian students, perceiving a lack of support, missing one's home country, and r e c e i v i n g support and affirma t i o n from one's friends, family, and supervisor. Lucy found that there was no room for bonding i n Canada, and at t r i b u t e d t h i s to individualism i n Western culture. A lack of meaningful relationships distressed her because i t was so d i f f e r e n t from her community-oriented culture. Similarly,. Jamie saw h e r s e l f as being out of the group; she perceived Canadian students were happy and comfortable while she was alone. At the same time, some reported that they received support and p o s i t i v e regard from others. Lucy appreciated her supervisor's understanding and support. Katherine perceived support from other international students as a valuable help i n the i n i t i a l period. Language D i f f i c u l t i e s A l l the participants reported to have experienced d i f f i c u l t i e s with English. Four out of f i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s stated that they had d i f f i c u l t y understanding lect u r e s . Jamie described that i t was d i f f i c u l t to f e e l p o s i t i v e about h e r s e l f because she could not understand lectures, and further attempt to compensate t h i s by reading was met with another b a r r i e r as her reading was so slow. V i c t o r i a f e l t her experience s h i f t e d when she found out how l i t t l e she understood i n lectures. The i n i t i a l confidence 88 she had f e l t dissipated quickly, and she withdrew from others by avoiding s o c i a l contacts. These accounts suggest that language posed a major hurdle and affected the partic i p a n t s ' psychological well-being as well as e f f i c i e n c y to deal with t h e i r new l i v e s . Structural Issues . Three part i c i p a n t s raised structural issues that influenced t h e i r l i v e s i n the i n i t i a l period. Examples include a lack of information, disorganization at school, finding s t r u c t u r a l differences between Canadian schools and those i n one's home country, and dealing with unfamiliar tasks such as r e g i s t r a t i o n . The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' accounts exemplify these issues. Miguel had a hard time finding the classroom for his f i r s t c l a s s , and his second class was cancelled without any n o t i f i c a t i o n . V i c t o r i a experienced a similar challenge on her f i r s t day of school. She found the si t u a t i o n at school chaotic and had trouble finding the information she needed for r e g i s t r a t i o n . These experiences seemed to elevate their anxiety. In contrast, Jamie found the differences between schools i n Canada and those i n her home country i n t e r e s t i n g . She perceived that students i n Canada played a more active role during classes compared to those at home, and that the class format was not as r i g i d as i t was at home. Physical Environment Three part i c i p a n t s reported that environmental factors played a role i n constructing t h e i r experiences. These factors were climate, natural environment, and architecture at school. J 89 Two stated that the cold and dark climate affected t h e i r moods i n a negative way. These two people began t h e i r l i v e s i n Canada i n winter when there was l i t t l e sunshine i n Vancouver, and t h i s seemed to influence t h e i r f i r s t impressions about t h e i r new l i v e s i n Canada. Also, Miguel perceived the school b u i l d i n g as enormous on his f i r s t day of school. Katherine reported that the beauty of nature r e l i e v e d her stress during the i n i t i a l period. (C) Behavioural Dynamics Two common behavioural themes emerged as actions that the pa r t i c i p a n t s took during the i n i t i a l period. They were problem-solving behaviours and withdrawal, and both of these themes were reported by more than three participants. Problem-Solving Behaviours Four participants reported that they i n i t i a t e d some form of problem-solving behaviours. Three types of such behaviour were i d e n t i f i e d from th e i r accounts: reaching out to others, t r y i n g to regain control over the situation, and t r y i n g to focus on tasks at hand. A l l four participants described that they approached others to r e l i e v e a sense of alienation and i s o l a t i o n . Although Miguel perceived several of these attempts as a f a i l u r e because he was unable to keep up conversation, he repeated such attempts u n t i l he f i n a l l y succeeded i n engaging i n a meaningful conversation. Jamie explained that her anxiety was re l i e v e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y after speaking to Chinese students i n the f i r s t c l a s s . 90 The second type of problem-solving behaviour was characterized by an attempt to regain control over the s i t u a t i o n . Four p a r t i c i p a n t s described attitudes such as t r y i n g to solve the problem by him/herself, declaring p r i o r i t i e s , a c t i v e l y p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n classes, and studying textbooks to compensate for a lack of English comprehension. V i c t o r i a and Jamie t r i e d to supplement t h e i r i n a b i l i t y to understand lectures by reading textbooks. Lucy declared to her supervisor that her f i r s t p r i o r i t y was not academic success but to survive i n Canada. A t h i r d form of problem-solving behaviour was marked by an attempt to focus on tasks rather than dwelling on t h e i r f e e l i n g s . Lucy stated that she t r i e d to l e t go of her pain i n order to focus on the task at hand. Withdrawal Three part i c i p a n t s withdrew from the s i t u a t i o n e i t h e r by p h y s i c a l l y dropping a course or by keeping s i l e n t during c l a s s . V i c t o r i a and Miguel reported that they said nothing i n the classes i n the beginning because they were unable to understand and to p a r t i c i p a t e i n class discussions. Katherine decided to drop the course aft e r finding that she could not understand the lectures. Moving Out - Present L i f e This section summarizes the participants' experiences of t h e i r current l i v e s . 91 (A) Emotional Dynamics Six emotional themes were i d e n t i f i e d as common among several p a r t i c i p a n t s . Among them, more than three p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced a sense of self-confidence, uncertainty, and increased comfort with Canadian l i f e , while two reported a sense of belonging, f i n a n c i a l pressure, and stress. Although these themes are defined separately, they aff e c t each other and overlap with one another. Themes Reported by More Than Three Participants Increased Self-Confidence A l l the participants reported that t h e i r self-confidence has increased since the i n i t i a l period. They described t h i s f e e l i n g as f e e l i n g better about themselves, knowing themselves as a capable person, a sense of having control over t h e i r l i v e s , and not being a f r a i d of challenges. In four cases, academic success contributed to t h e i r elevated self-confidence. They a l l achieved academic success despite their language and c u l t u r a l handicaps. Because they discovered that they could compete well with Canadians, t h e i r feelings about themselves improved a great deal. Jamie stated: I guess also because, yeah, studies, because I r e a l l y got a very good marks, you know. I f e l t r e a l l y good, "Wow, you see, I can do as well as you guys". In some cases, increased self-confidence l e d to a sense of being i n control. V i c t o r i a and Jamie reported that they now f e e l 92 i n control of t h e i r l i v e s and are no longer a f r a i d of t h e i r future. Uncertainty Four participants indicated that they f e e l uncertain about some aspects of t h e i r l i v e s . This f e e l i n g was accompanied by feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and worry. Some reported insecure feelings over academic matters, while one p a r t i c i p a n t expressed uncertainty about others' opinions of her. Miguel i s uncertain about the purpose of his current school l i f e . Katherine feels insecure about her English. Jamie i s not sure how to behave around professors i n order to be considered favorably. She feels uncertain about how she i s viewed as Chinese or just another student. Family caused some to f e e l uncertain. Lucy found herself unable to make a decision about her future because of the impact her decision w i l l have on her family. Her anxiety was further augmented by her uncertain feelings about where to c a l l home. Katherine was worried about her daughter when her daughter c r i e d constantly. She f e l t anxious and concerned about what had happened at the baby-sitters where she sent her daughter. Comfortable with L i f e i n Canada Three participants indicated that they are now comfortable i n Canada. They described that they f e l t happy and p o s i t i v e about t h e i r l i v e s i n Canada and that they were more used to Canadian culture. Miguel explained that he was accustomed to his l i f e i n Canada, and was happy with his wife l i v i n g i n Canada. 93 V i c t o r i a i s now happy i n Canada, and t r i e s to focus on po s i t i v e aspects whenever she faces hardships. Themes Reported by Two Participants Sense of Belonging This f e e l i n g was described by two participants as " f e e l i n g l i k e Canadians", "f e e l i n g normal just l i k e Canadians", and perceiving themselves equal to Canadians. Jamie expressed th i s f e e l i n g by drawing herself i n the same size and colours as Canadians. While she recognizes c u l t u r a l distance between herself and Canadians, she does not see herself any smaller than they are, and does not become envious when she sees others being happy with t h e i r friends. V i c t o r i a described that she f e l t as i f she were a Canadian now that she knew the system and had l i t t l e problem getting around. Financial Pressure Two participants reported being under f i n a n c i a l pressure. This was described as being preoccupied with one's f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n , f e e l i n g stressed out about one's finances, and worrying about one' f i n a n c i a l future. Katherine described the current s i t u a t i o n as f i n a n c i a l l y very s t r e s s f u l because her husband's minimum wage job was the sole source of income i n her family. Lack of f i n a n c i a l aid i n her department also contributed to her stress. In contrast, V i c t o r i a feels o p t i m i s t i c about her f i n a n c i a l future. Although money i s always a concern for her, she now feels she w i l l f i n d ways to support he r s e l f . 94 Stress Feelings of stress were characterized by an attempt to meet others' expectations of themselves, and spending a great deal of time t r y i n g to meet demands while having l i t t l e time for themselves. Lucy described that she was "being kept on toes a l l the time" as she t r i e d to s a t i s f y demands of school to reach a decision about her future. The decision-making process proved to be s t r e s s f u l for her because of the pressure to make a perfect decision. Katherine described her present l i f e as "the toughest ever" due to the demands of child-rearing and pressure from school. Her current l i f e i s very s t r e s s f u l because she has multiple roles and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as a mother, a student, and a wife. (B) External Dynamics Although f i v e themes were i d e n t i f i e d as common to several participants, only two were common among more than three p a r t i c i p a n t s . Each participant seemed to have a p a r t i c u l a r issue that was dominant i n her/his present l i f e , and t h i s may be because each participant's unique l i f e circumstances had become a more i n f l u e n t i a l force since surviving the i n i t i a l period. The fi v e common themes were interpersonal issues, academic l i f e , family, future, and f i n a n c i a l stress ( l i s t e d i n order of commonalty). 95 Themes Reported by More Than Three Participants Interpersonal Issues Of four participants who reported to have interpersonal issues, two of them indicated that they experienced interpersonal d i f f i c u l t i e s . Miguel mentioned communication he had with his supervisor. Katherine experienced the s i t u a t i o n where she became a mediator between two disagreeing p a r t i e s . She also described the experience where she overheard others c r i t i c i z i n g her. Three participants stated that they received help and support from others. Despite some obstacles, Katherine gained confidence because of others' affirmation of her a b i l i t y . V i c t o r i a counted support of her supervisor and her s i s t e r as a valuable element i n her current l i f e . Academic L i f e Academic l i f e has both p o s i t i v e and negative aspects for four p a r t i c i p a n t s . Three participants accounted that t h e i r academic s i t u a t i o n has improved since the i n i t i a l period. For V i c t o r i a and Jamie, i t was an unexpected academic success that contributed to t h e i r p o s i t i v e feelings about t h e i r current l i v e s , while for Katherine, changing her major brought i n both negative and p o s i t i v e points. Since she changed from science to arts, language became a heavier burden and school demand i n t e n s i f i e d . However, she has gained a sense of purpose since the change, and hence i s currently happier about her academic l i f e . 96 Themes Reported by Two Participants Family Two participants reported contrasting family l i v e s . Miguel's family l i f e i s nothing but p o s i t i v e . He i s very happy because he has a great deal of free time with his wife and they have a house to themselves. In contrast, having a family has become a major source of stress for Katherine. She i s exhausted by many r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and feels g u i l t y for having l i t t l e time for her family. In spite of these demands, however, Katherine acknowledged the joy her daughter brings into her l i f e . Future Two participants expressed t h e i r concern about the future. Lucy i s concerned about the e f f e c t that her decision w i l l have on her children's future. There are several questions that need to be answered, and t h i s leads her to f e e l unsure of her future. S i m i l a r l y , V i c t o r i a indicated her uncertain feelings about her future. (C) Behavioural Dynamics Various forms of problem-solving behaviours were described by three p a r t i c i p a n t s . Problem-Solving Behaviours Three participants described that they have t r i e d to improve current situations by such means as sharing t h e i r feelings with others, focusing on p o s i t i v e aspects of t h e i r l i v e s , c o l l e c t i n g information, networking, and taking a proactive approach to tackle academic challenges. 97 As the current l i f e s i t u a t i o n varies between the participants, t h e i r challenges range from those of an academic nature to those of a f i n a n c i a l nature. Yet the r e s u l t s i n d i c a t e that they no longer withdraw from challenges but deal with them a c t i v e l y . For example, Jamie reminded herself of the fact that she was a capable person rather than becoming depressed whenever someone grew impatient with her English. V i c t o r i a decided to write an exam despite advice from some people not to, and accomplished her goal. Ideal Future Life The i d e a l future l i v e s were described with such words as happiness, l i t t l e worry, f i n a n c i a l r e l i e f , relaxing l i f e , and freedom. For example, i t i s essential for Lucy to become happy with herself, while for Jamie, incorporating virtues of Canadian and Chinese cultures constitutes an important part i n her i d e a l l i f e . V i c t o r i a described her dream of l i v i n g i n Canada with her family. Four participants expressed th e i r wish for happy family l i f e i n the future. Three wished to be able to enjoy spending time with t h e i r f a m i l i e s . Katherine expressed her strong hope for a happier family l i f e since the f i n a n c i a l pressure i s c u r r e n t l y so intense and she feels her family members are unable to enjoy each other's company. Two hoped to have children and to l i v e i n a house with t h e i r familes i n Canada. 98 Some par t i c i p a n t s have certain wishes for other family members. Two partic i p a n t s communicated t h e i r strong wish f o r th e i r spouses to become professionals. For Katherine, i t not only means f i n a n c i a l r e l i e f but also a way for her husband to s e l f - a c t u a l i z e himself. She hopes that he w i l l become happier as he f u l f i l l s his academic p o t e n t i a l . Katherine also expressed her strong wish for her daughter to become educated. She f e e l s that education w i l l open many doors for her daughter i n the future. One unique issue emerged i n terms of id e a l family l i f e . Miguel recognized his wife's needs to actualize herself, yet f e l t uncertain i f his i d e a l l i f e could accommodate such needs. He re a l i z e s that there may be a gap between his i d e a l future l i f e and his wife's i d e a l l i f e . For t h e i r career, three mentioned that they hoped to f i n d a meaningful job. A meaningful job i s described as a professional occupation, a work which allows one to be creative and h e l p f u l , and a job which enabled them to support t h e i r family. For Lucy, i t i s imperative that she w i l l be able to support her family; she feels that her family had made a great deal of s a c r i f i c e f o r her education, and hopes to reciprocate for what they have done for her during her school years. V i c t o r i a emphasized her wish to become a professional so she can help others. She does not want to have a "routine job" which she does not f e e l i s s e l f -a c t u a l i z i n g . For V i c t o r i a , becoming a professional i s also a means to sponsor family. 99 In contrast, for Miguel, the future of his career i s not as important as that of his family l i f e . Miguel sees employment as something that needs to be obtained i n order to provide for his family. It i s for him a means to establish the i d e a l family l i f e , l i v i n g i n a house i n Canada and enjoying spending time together. Four participants answered that they needed some more time to actualize t h e i r ideal l i v e s . Other factors that the par t i c i p a n t s think w i l l help them achieve t h e i r goals are employment, support network, academic achievement, improved language a b i l i t y , and increased general knowledge about Canada. For Lucy, i t i s c r i t i c a l to have a community where people help each other to achieve t h e i r goals. Lucy feels that community not only provides encouragement and support, but i t also becomes a network to enhance one's chance of success. In contrast, V i c t o r i a sees that i t i s fundamental to obtain permanent resident status i n Canada i n order to bring her family to Canada. Results of Sentence Completion Questionnaire Responses on the sentence completion questionnaire r e f l e c t e d both the i n i t i a l uncertainty about the drawing exercise and subsequent p o s i t i v e experience the participants had with drawing (see Appendix P). For example, one participant wrote, "I f e l t insecure about my drawings because I'm not used to draw anything", but reported that i t was e x c i t i n g to draw about her l i f e and thoughts. 100 Other comments, such as "Drawing about myself makes me r e c a l l my experiences and feelings", indicate that the drawing exercise stimulated t h e i r thinking and helped them remember l o s t feelings and forgotten events. This was also shared by another par t i c i p a n t who wrote "Drawing about myself makes me get i n touch with my feelings i n a concrete way". The drawing exercise seemed to help loosen some par t i c i p a n t s ' defences. One participant wrote that he/she f e l t free, to say anything about him/herself, his/her family, and his/her future when he/she drew. Another pa r t i c i p a n t reported that he/she talked about the most s t r i k i n g things when he/she drew. For others, i t f a c i l i t a t e d them to view t h e i r experiences from d i f f e r e n t perspectives; one participant described that he/she began to see things which he/she did not see before. Four participants reported that drawing about t h e i r present l i v e s was a pleasant experience. They indicated that t h i s was because they f e l t p o s i t i v e about t h e i r current l i v e s . S i m i l a r l y , drawing about the future was a po s i t i v e experience for four p a r t i c i p a n t s . It helped them to see options and to examine what constitutes t h e i r ideal l i v e s . One par t i c i p a n t wrote, "I was happy to be i n a position to f e e l that I deserve a better future". Drawing about th e i r future l i v e s enabled some partici p a n t s to see that the future i s open to them and that t h e i r hard work would bear some f r u i t . On the other hand, some participants expressed t h e i r reservations about using drawing to describe t h e i r experiences. 101 Comments, such as "It's d i f f i c u l t to draw feelings and emotions" and " I t i s hard to represent dynamics of l i f e on a piece of paper", r e f l e c t the d i f f i c u l t y some participants had about expressing complex feelings and experiences i n drawing. In summary, despite t h e i r i n i t i a l hesitation, the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' feedback indicated that the drawing a c t i v i t y was a generally p o s i t i v e experience. Drawing stimulated t h e i r thinking and memory i n some cases, while i n others, i t helped them f e e l at ease to express themselves and share their s t o r i e s . The drawing exercise also enabled some to see their experiences with fresh eyes. Most participants f e l t p ositive about t h e i r current l i v e s and t h e i r future, and t h i s was r e f l e c t e d i n t h e i r drawings. Summary While the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences varied during the period before school started, they commonly f e l t nervous, f e a r f u l , lonely, inadequate, i n v i s i b l e , and excited during the i n i t i a l period of t h e i r school l i f e i n Canada. The most common coping method used by the participants was problem-solving actions such as t r y i n g to reach out to others or to regain control over the s i t u a t i o n . Interpersonal issues, communication d i f f i c u l t i e s , s t r u c t u r a l issues, and physical environment commonly affected t h e i r experiences during the i n i t i a l period. In contrast, most participants f e l t p o s i t i v e toward t h e i r current l i v e s . Themes that emerged as the most common among the pa r t i c i p a n t s include self-confidence, uncertainty about the future, and an increased sense of ease with t h e i r l i v e s i n 102 Canada. Interpersonal issues and academic l i f e were the main issues which influenced t h e i r experiences. Three p a r t i c i p a n t s reported taking problem-solving strategies when they faced some challenges. Description of an i d e a l future l i f e included words such as happy, relaxing, freedom, a meaningful job, and f i n a n c i a l r e l i e f . While there was general agreement about what the p a r t i c i p a n t s perceived as the ideal future l i f e , the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' ideas s l i g h t l y varied from one another depending on t h e i r l i f e circumstances. For some, being united with one's family was the most important goal, while pursuing a career seemed to weigh more for others. To r e a l i z e t h e i r dreams, the participants responded that they needed time, opportunities, a support network, increased knowledge about Canada, and enhanced English a b i l i t i e s . The r e s u l t s of the sentence completion questionnaire revealed that a l b e i t with some reservations, the p a r t i c i p a n t s generally f e l t p o s i t i v e about the drawing exercise. 103 Chapter Five Discussion Introduction The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of in t e r n a t i o n a l students' experiences through using a v i s u a l medium (drawings) and interviews. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with f i v e graduate in t e r n a t i o n a l students of the Univ e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia i n Canada. Three phases of th e i r experiences i n Canada (anticipatory period, i n i t i a l period, and current l i f e ) were examined as well as what they wished for their future. The results yielded a number of emotional, external, and behavioural themes i n each of these phases. While the commonalties among the participants emerged as a r e s u l t of q u a l i t a t i v e data analysis, each parti c i p a n t ' s story was unique i n terms of how they experienced these themes, and t h i s uniqueness was illuminated both i n t h e i r stories and i n t h e i r drawings. Some of the findings from t h i s study are consistent with previous research on t r a n s i t i o n and in t e r n a t i o n a l students. In t h i s chapter, findings of t h i s study are examined i n terms of t h e i r contributions for theory and research, and t h e i r implications for counselling practice are explored. Limitations of t h i s study and suggestions for future research are also addressed. 104 Integrating Current and Previous Research Implications for Adjustment Theory The r e s u l t s of the present research are consistent with Schlossberg's (1981) model of human adaptation to t r a n s i t i o n . Schlossberg proposed that the following three types of variables a f f e c t an individual's adjustment process: c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the p a r t i c u l a r t r a n s i t i o n , characteristics of the pre and post t r a n s i t i o n environments, and cha r a c t e r i s t i c s of the i n d i v i d u a l . According to Schlossberg, the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of most t r a n s i t i o n s can be described by factors such as the in d i v i d u a l ' s perception of role change, affect, and stress. The current study demonstrated the presence of these variables. A l l the pa r t i c i p a n t s indicated that both pos i t i v e and negative emotions influenced t h e i r experiences. Furthermore, the r e s u l t s suggest that t h e i r feelings were the result of p a r t i c u l a r t r a n s i t i o n a l events as well as a source to shape further experiences. Certain incidents l e d some participants to fe e l anxious, and t h i s anxiety affected how they viewed themselves and the world around them. Also, several participants reported a perception of ro l e change. For example, V i c t o r i a f e l t that her status had suddenly f a l l e n from a competitive student to a "stupid one", whereas Katherine perceived her husband's i d e n t i t y had d r a s t i c a l l y changed since coming to Canada. The current study also recognized Schlossberg's second category of moderators, the cha r a c t e r i s t i c s of pre and post t r a n s i t i o n environments. These environments are understood i n 105 terms of t h e i r support system and physical settings, and the ef f e c t s of these factors were evident i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' accounts. For example, several participants reported that the physical setting, p a r t i c u l a r l y the cold climate of Vancouver, affected t h e i r moods during t h e i r i n i t i a l period. In terms of s o c i a l support, Schlossberg suggests two types of support: personal and i n s t i t u t i o n a l . In t h i s study, the participants revealed that friendships with both co-nationals and host-nationals enabled them to cope with the t r a n s i t i o n while a loss of a previous support system had a damaging e f f e c t , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the i n i t i a l period. Also, the present study shed l i g h t on the importance of relationships with other international students. While previous research such as that of Heikinheimo and Shute (1986) tended to focus on the p o s i t i v e aspect of sojourner-host national contacts, the results from this study indicated that relationships with other international students were also important mediators of adjustment. While several participants described t h e i r sense of r e l i e f at the sight of co-nationals i n school, they also reported that they f e l t a sense of sharing the same struggle with other international students. This sense re l i e v e d anxiety and feelings of i s o l a t i o n for some part i c i p a n t s . In contrast, none of the participants reported to have sought i n s t i t u t i o n a l support. While there was a resource f a c i l i t y on campus for international students, none of the participants u t i l i z e d t h i s f a c i l i t y during t h e i r struggles. This 106 may be because international students are l i k e l y to be l e f t uninformed of services on campus as Miguel suggested i n the interview, and/or due to international students' tendency to not seek professional help as some researchers have suggested ( T o f f o l i & Allan, 1992; Wehrly, 1986; Westwood & Ishiyama, 1990). F i n a l l y , findings from this study i d e n t i f i e d the t h i r d category of mediators suggested by Schlossberg, c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the in d i v i d u a l , such as age, gender, values, e t h n i c i t y , and psychological competence. Some partic i p a n t s i n t h i s study indicated having experienced value c o n f l i c t s . For example, Lucy found individualism i n North America d i f f i c u l t to deal with because she came from a more community-oriented cul t u r e . Jamie reported f e e l i n g " i n between cultures" because of value differences between her homeland and Canadian cultures. S i m i l a r l y , psychological competence was evident i n the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' accounts. On several occasions, the pa r t i c i p a n t s took an active problem-solving approach; the p a r t i c i p a n t s approached Canadians and co-nationals i n hopes of b u i l d i n g a new support network while at other times they studied hard to overcome t h e i r language l i m i t a t i o n s . Schlossberg suggests that adaptation occurs when an i n d i v i d u a l moves from being preoccupied with the t r a n s i t i o n to inte g r a t i n g i t into his/her l i f e . The current study indicated that the participants had integrated the change i n t h e i r l i v e s . They commonly reported that they were comfortable with t h e i r present l i v e s i n Canada, and had gained self-confidence as a 107 r e s u l t of the t r a n s i t i o n a l experience. Some p a r t i c i p a n t s emphasized a sense of normalness. V i c t o r i a described that she f e l t "just l i k e Canadians" whereas Jamie drew h e r s e l f i n the same size and colours as Canadians to s i g n i f y her f e e l i n g of being normal and same as Canadians. The study also found other mediators that were suggested by other researchers. Ward and Kennedy (1993a) proposed that an ind i v i d u a l ' s language a b i l i t y affects his/her s o c i o c u l t u r a l adaptation which i n turn predicts psychological adjustment. The res u l t s of t h i s study supported this notion. A l l the par t i c i p a n t s reported language as a major challenge, and some indicated that a lack of language s k i l l s led them to f e e l "foreign" and " d i f f e r e n t " . This feeling of being d i f f e r e n t may have affected t h e i r psychological well-being, causing them to f e e l i s o l a t e d , inadequate, nervous, and i n v i s i b l e . However, other factors such as c u l t u r a l differences and p e r s o n a l i t y factors may have also contributed to t h e i r sense of being d i f f e r e n t . Thus, the relationship between language a b i l i t y , s o c i o c u l t u r a l , and psychological adjustment may have been i n t e r f e r e d with or i n t e n s i f i e d by other variables. While previous research t y p i c a l l y indicates the advantage of having language s k i l l s i n the sojourner's adjustment process (e.g. Ward & Kennedy, 1993a; Kagan & Cohen, 1990), the findings from t h i s study i l l u s t r a t e one posi t i v e aspect from not having enough language a b i l i t y ; the i n i t i a l lack of language a b i l i t y contributed to a subsequent greater sense of self-confidence. 108 Several participants reported that because of t h e i r language l i m i t a t i o n , academic success had more s i g n i f i c a n t meaning for them than i t would have i f English was t h e i r native language. That i s , they r e a l i z e d that they could compete well against native English speakers despite t h e i r language handicap, and t h e i r self-confidence was elevated s i g n i f i c a n t l y as a r e s u l t . Ward and Searle (1991) suggest that c u l t u r a l knowledge influences one's sociocultural adaptation, and t h i s was consistent with the results of t h i s study. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s indicated that t h e i r knowledge about Canada had increased since f i r s t a r r i v i n g here, and this had led them to f e e l more comfortable with their l i v e s i n Canada. Concerns and Feelings of International Students The current study supports some of the findings of previous research regarding international students' major concerns. Heikinheimo and Shute (1986) conducted a q u a l i t a t i v e study which indicated that international students were p r i m a r i l y concerned with language, academic issues, c u l t u r a l differences, r a c i a l discrimination, and s o c i a l interactions with Canadians. A l l of these themes except r a c i a l discrimination were i d e n t i f i e d i n the present study. For example, a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s faced a language b a r r i e r and interpersonal issues. While other studies also suggest language as a key issue for i n t e r n a t i o n a l students (e.g. Deressa & Beavers, 1988), the r e s u l t s of t h i s study indicate that language s k i l l s not only a f f e c t the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' 109 e f f i c i e n c y to communicate but also t h e i r self-concept, feelings of i s o l a t i o n , and academic confidence. Similar to the results of Heikinheimo and Shute's study (1986), both p o s i t i v e and negative aspects of c u l t u r a l differences were recognized. Cultural differences posed a b a r r i e r to connect with Canadians while they were also seen as i n t e r e s t i n g and e x c i t i n g . Jamie reported that she was fascinated by the way instructors and students interacted i n Canada because i t was very d i f f e r e n t from that i n China, whereas Lucy f e l t i t was d i f f i c u l t to bond with Canadians because Canadians were i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c and seemed to avoid close r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Previous research also recognized finances as a major concern for international students, (e.g. Deressa & Beavers, 1988; Parr et a l , 1992), but the findings of t h i s study suggest that the issue of finances weighed more i n the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s present l i v e s than i t did during the i n i t i a l period of being i n Canada. While the reasons for this i s unclear, i t may be that the p a r t i c i p a n t s had numerous other concerns when they started t h e i r new l i v e s i n Canada whereas finances emerged as a s a l i e n t issue as they resolved other adjustment issues. Other issues i d e n t i f i e d i n t h i s study include family i n t h e i r homelands and uncertainty about t h e i r future. Results of the current study i d e n t i f i e d f e e l i n g s and emotions that previous research suggest to be common among inte r n a t i o n a l students. These emotions include homesickness, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. 110 Lu (1990) explored emotional experiences of international students i n B r i t a i n by administering questionnaires within two weeks of t h e i r a r r i v a l and two months af t e r the a r r i v a l . The r e s u l t was s t r i k i n g ; more than 90% of p a r t i c i p a n t s reported homesickness at both times. While Lu suggests that homesickness remains stable and la s t i n g , the current study contradicted t h i s finding; only two participants reported homesickness which dis s i p a t e d over time. The difference may stem from a difference of duration between Lu's study and t h i s study. In Lu's study, the second questionnaire was administered two months afte r t h e i r a r r i v a l while a l l the participants i n t h i s study a r r i v e d i n Canada at least six months pr i o r to the interview. Thus, the r e s u l t s of t h i s study suggest that the homesickness of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students may be relieved with time, a l b e i t slowly. The present study also supported previous research that found loneliness as a common emotion among in t e r n a t i o n a l students. Hsu et a l (1987) conducted a study to examine the frequency of loneliness among 131 Chinese students i n America. Hsu et a l found that international students were more s o c i a l l y lonely than t h e i r American counterparts. Based on t h i s result, Hsu et a l conclude that loneliness of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students stems from s o c i a l alienation rather than from a lack of close emotional attachments. The descriptions of the p a r t i c i p a n t s supported t h i s finding; four participants reported having experienced loneliness but th e i r accounts indicated that t h e i r feelings of loneliness were more to do with feelings of being I l l d i f f e r e n t and a lack of sense of belonging. A sense of a l i e n a t i o n was portrayed p a r t i c u l a r l y i n Jamie's drawing where everyone else was drawn c o l o u r f u l l y while only her figure was drawn i n gray, and i n Lucy's account that she f e l t foreign and i n v i s i b l e . Thus, these results confirmed Lu's conclusion that i n t e r n a t i o n a l students' loneliness may be more the r e s u l t of s o c i a l f a c t o rs. A l l the participants reported feelings of nervousness and anxiety, and t h i s was consistent with previous research. Pedersen (1991) suggests that anxiety occurs as a r e s u l t of l o s i n g previous support systems and that i t s manifestation ranges from mild annoyance to feelings of panic and d i s o r i e n t a t i o n . In the current study, three participants resorted to withdrawing because of t h e i r anxiety. Several participants also indicated that they were always t i r e d because of t h e i r anxiety. Although several researchers contend that depression i s prevalent among international students (e.g. Pedersen, 1991; Cadieux & Wehrly, 1986), only two participants i n t h i s study voiced such feelings. In contrast to t h i s , the current study i d e n t i f i e d two common feelings that were r a r e l y addressed i n previous research: feelings of inadequacy and f e e l i n g s of i n v i s i b i l i t y . Four participants described f e e l i n g inadequate and i n v i s i b l e , and t h i s affected various aspects of t h e i r l i v e s including academic performance and interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Cadieux and Wehrly (1986) suggest that facing unfamiliar academic tasks and the competitive nature at school i s l i k e l y to lead 112 i n t e r n a t i o n a l students to feel depressed, angry, and helpless. Three p a r t i c i p a n t s reported facing such challenges but described t h e i r feelings as f e e l i n g inadequate and i n v i s i b l e rather than being depressed. Further investigation i s needed to c l a r i f y the difference and relationship among depression, fee l i n g s of inadequacy, and feelings of i n v i s i b i l i t y . It may be that feelings of inadequacy and i n v i s i b i l i t y are components of depression or they are the i n i t i a l reactions which lead to depression. Coping Strategies of International Students While previous research often explores factors that a f f e c t the adjustment process of international students and t h e i r concerns and feelings during that process, few studies address coping s t r a t e g i e s . As a result, international students are often portrayed as passive, helpless, and defenseless (Pedersen, 1991). Research that focuses on how to help these students often f a l l s into the same trap of assuming them to be mere helpees. In contrast to t h i s notion, however, the current study found in t e r n a t i o n a l students to be active agents who t r i e d to remedy th e i r s i t u a t i o n s more often than they resorted to withdrawal. Four part i c i p a n t s t r i e d some sort of problem-solving strategy during the period when adjustment challenges were most intense. These strategies included taking i n i t i a t i v e s i n approaching others to relieve a sense of i s o l a t i o n , asserting p r i o r i t i e s to people around them, and studying textbooks thoroughly to compensate for their limited l i s t e n i n g 113 comprehension. One participant consciously t r i e d to change her attitudes and to take a proactive approach i n order to overcome challenges. Others, despite repeated perceived f a i l u r e , did not give up and kept on approaching others u n t i l f i n a l l y meaningful re l a t i o n s h i p s began to blossom. While the p a r t i c i p a n t s sometimes withdrew from t h e i r situations, t h i s may also be a way of conserving mental and physical energy i n order to cope with further challenges as one participant indicated during the interview. These results suggest that in t e r n a t i o n a l students play active roles i n their adjustment process rather than being helpless, and use t h e i r resources to cope with t h e i r struggles. Use of Drawings with International Students The current study demonstrated several advantages and l i m i t a t i o n s of using drawings with international students that were suggested by previous research. For example, Amundson (1988) points out that drawing provides a means for concrete case conceptualization, and the feedback of the p a r t i c i p a n t s suggests that drawings helped them to r e c a l l l o s t memories and conceptualize them i n a concrete way. The researcher's impression also confirmed t h i s ; from the interviewer's point of view, I f e l t the drawings helped me to understand the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences with more confidence because of additional v i s u a l clues. Drawings also functioned as a sharing point for discussions i n the present study. Moody (1995) conducted a f i e l d observation study on an Indian reservation, and reported that v i s u a l art 114 f a c i l i t a t e d mutual understanding between the therapist and c l i e n t s , and helped them transcend c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study indicated that drawings enabled them to t a l k f r e e l y about themselves, and I also sensed that drawings f a c i l i t a t e d the sense of sharing. Drawing helped to assure that both the part i c i p a n t s and the researcher were t a l k i n g from common ground. In t h i s way, drawings became a map to reduce the r i s k of misunderstandings as well as a guide for further discussions. In terms of i t s limitations, t h i s study also confirmed Amundson's (1988) suggestion that drawing exercises may evoke negative responses such as hesitation and fear. The part i c i p a n t s generally show hesitation before s t a r t i n g to draw. One p a r t i c i p a n t p a r t i c u l a r l y expressed her discomfort about drawing her l i f e experiences while others found i t d i f f i c u l t to draw feelings and the dynamics of th e i r experiences. However, the p o s i t i v e feedback aft e r the drawing exercise indicates the importance of providing encouragement and reassurance i n the beginning so as to help participants overcome t h e i r i n i t i a l fear. P r a c t i c a l Implications for Helping International Students A p r a c t i c a l implication of the results of t h i s study i s that i n t e r n a t i o n a l students are l i k e l y to benefit from counselling interventions p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the f i r s t period when they tend to f e e l nervous, f e a r f u l , lonely, and inadequate. Since the results found that support of co-nationals and fellow i n t e r n a t i o n a l students eased the participants' stress, i t would be b e n e f i c i a l i f centres for international students organize support groups and 115 advertise them widely on campus so that i n t e r n a t i o n a l students i n d i f f e r e n t academic programmes would have the opportunities to meet one another and to form a community. This approach may be e s p e c i a l l y e f f e c t i v e considering the general tendency of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students to not seek professional help (Cadieux & Wehrly,. 198 6) . Another implication i s that e f f o r t should be made to f a c i l i t a t e interactions between host nationals and international students to a l l e v i a t e international students' sense of a l i e n a t i o n . Westwood and Barker (1990) demonstrated the benefit of such interactions by finding a p o s i t i v e c o r r e l a t i o n between contacts with host nationals and academic success and also between such contacts and lower rates of dropping out of school. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s i n this study indicated that they were presently comfortable with their l i v e s i n Canada and that t h e i r perceptions had changed from fe e l i n g d i f f e r e n t from Canadians to f e e l i n g the same as Canadians. Thus, i f p o s i t i v e i n t e r a c t i o n s between host nationals and international students can be f a c i l i t a t e d , international students' sense of being foreign may be reduced. Host nationals who would p a r t i c i p a t e i n these endeavours should be trained i n c u l t u r a l s e n s i t i v i t y and cross-c u l t u r a l communication, since some studies (e.g. Ward & Kennedy, 1992, 1994) suggest that such interactions can be harmful to sojourners i f the proper precautions are not taken. An important implication for counsellors who work with int e r n a t i o n a l students i s to recognize the heterogeneity of these 116 students. Although the results of thi s study found common themes i n t h e i r experiences, the participants d i f f e r e d i n the way they experienced these themes. For example, Lucy f e l t alienated when she introduced herself i n the class and received no response, whereas Jamie f e l t the same feeling when she saw a group of Canadians t a l k i n g happily with one another. The danger of stereotyping international students i s emphasized by Pedersen (1991) who asserts that there i s as much difference between any two i n t e r n a t i o n a l students as between either of them and a host national. Thus, while i t i s essential to be aware of issues commonly faced by international students, counsellors should treat each international student as unique and i n d i v i d u a l . S i m i l a r l y , counsellors should treat i n t e r n a t i o n a l students as a capable and active agent of their own l i v e s instead of seeing them as defenseless individuals being confronted by harsh adjustment demands. While cross-cultural t r a n s i t i o n s often cause in t e r n a t i o n a l students to fe e l anxious, f e a r f u l , and lonely, the resu l t s of t h i s study indicated that they a c t i v e l y sought ways to remedy t h e i r situations. As Wehrly (1988) suggests, the courage to leave one's homeland to pursue goals i n a foreign environment i s i n i t s e l f a strength. Therefore, focusing on t h e i r strengths while f u l l y appreciating their struggles w i l l reduce a r i s k of having these students f e e l patronized and consequently w i l l empower them to move forward. F i n a l l y , t h i s study's use of drawings has valuable implications for those who work with in t e r n a t i o n a l students. The 117 study demonstrated several advantages of drawing as a communication t o o l ; i t was generally b e n e f i c i a l for the p a r t i c i p a n t s to have th e i r drawings as a basis of discussion as well as a form of additional information for the researcher. Because c u l t u r a l differences can become a f e r t i l e ground for misunderstanding, having a visual clue i n front of both c l i e n t and counsellor may reduce such r i s k . Drawings also may r e l i e v e i n t e r n a t i o n a l students' anxiety about t a l k i n g about themselves to a counsellor, because the conversation can take the form of describing t h e i r drawings. Limitations and Implications for Future Research The r e s u l t s of this study must be taken with caution for several reasons. F i r s t , the homogeneity of the p a r t i c i p a n t s should be taken into consideration. A l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s were graduate students of the same university, t h e i r ages were similar (from l a t e 20s to mid 30s), and only one p a r t i c i p a n t was a male. Also, since they volunteered to p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s study, they may possess cert a i n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s such as openness to t a l k about themselves. Thus, i t i s uncertain as to what extent t h e i r experiences represent international students' experiences i n general. A small sample size also contributes to t h i s uncertainty. Secondly, a question remains as to what extent the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the researcher influenced the data c o l l e c t i o n and analysis. Although data analysis was validated twice, c e r t a i n attributes of the researcher may have affe c t e d the way 118 the data was handled. One such attribute was the fact that I was an i n t e r n a t i o n a l student myself. While being an in t e r n a t i o n a l student provided me with several advantages such as a sense of sharing the same struggle, my own experience as an inte r n a t i o n a l student may have affected the selection of questions during the interviews, the manner i n which I f a c i l i t a t e d the interviews, and the way I interpreted the participants' accounts. Other attributes that may have impacted the study were my b e l i e f s and assumptions. One such assumption i s that most i n t e r n a t i o n a l students face challenges when they come abroad to study. While the participants' accounts confirmed t h i s , there i s a p o s s i b i l i t y that the participants sensed such an assumption and may have t r i e d , consciously or unconsciously, to ascertain i t by s e l e c t i v e l y r e l a t i n g t h e i r experiences to the researcher. F i n a l l y , my b e l i e f that art can be an e f f e c t i v e t o o l to understand an individual's experience may have aff e c t e d the way the p a r t i c i p a n t s drew and answered the sentence questionnaires, and the manner i n which I f a c i l i t a t e d the interviews. Although there was an advantage i n having experience with using drawing i n counselling and i n being familiar with drawing materials, t h i s background may have influenced both myself as a researcher and the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Considering these limitations, future r e p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s study are needed to b u i l d a body of research to further examine the usefulness of drawings with this population and to deepen our understanding of the processes international students go through. 119 Future studies can focus on one ethnic group i n order to investigate c u l t u r a l influences on the sojourner's adjustment process. Comparative studies may provide further i n s i g h t into our understanding of international students' experiences. For example, studies can be conducted to compare the issues surfacing i n drawings between two ethnic groups. Future research also may compare the challenges faced by undergraduate i n t e r n a t i o n a l students and those faced by graduate i n t e r n a t i o n a l students. Because undergraduate students are t y p i c a l l y younger than graduate students, d i f f e r e n t developmental issues may i n t e r a c t with t h e i r adjustment processes. It may also be useful to compare male and female international students. Some in t e r n a t i o n a l students may be from a society where gender roles and r o l e expectations are vastly d i f f e r e n t from those i n North America, and therefore, female and male i n t e r n a t i o n a l students may face d i f f e r e n t adjustment tasks and experience the adjustment processes d i f f e r e n t l y . Considering the d i f f i c u l t y some participants had with drawing t h e i r general adjustment experiences, future studies may adopt a c r i t i c a l incident method proposed by Flanagan (1954) and have p a r t i c i p a n t s focus t h e i r drawings on the incident which they f e e l c r i t i c a l i n t h e i r adjustment processes. Doing t h i s may provide part i c i p a n t s with more structure, and reduce the p o s s i b i l i t y of having them wonder what they are supposed to do. It may also r e l i e v e their discomfort and anxiety, as drawing a 120 s p e c i f i c incident i s probably less overwhelming than drawing general feelings or l i f e experiences. F i n a l l y , future research w i l l benefit from a larger number of p a r t i c i p a n t s . Longitudinal studies to follow the course of adjustment with drawings w i l l also add a valuable understanding to our knowledge of international students' experiences. Conclusion This study presented the findings from the d e s c r i p t i v e study of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students' experiences. The purpose of t h i s study was to explore and describe the experiences of i n t e r n a t i o n a l students through drawings and in-depth interviews. The study u t i l i z e d the drawing exercises to investigate the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' courses of adjustment process from the a n t i c i p a t i o n period t i l l t h e i r present l i v e s . Their wishes for t h e i r future were also explored. Study re s u l t s revealed three dynamics i n t h e i r experiences (emotional, external, and behavioural) and a number of. common themes. The period during which the p a r t i c i p a n t s struggled to adjust to a new culture was characterized by such emotions as nervousness, fear, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of i n v i s i b i l i t y , and excitement. The present l i v e s were described i n a way to s i g n i f y a sign of adaptation. The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' subjective experiences were v i s u a l l y depicted i n t h e i r drawings, and the drawing exercises generally provided p o s i t i v e experiences to the participants. 121 While many of the themes emerged i n t h i s study confirmed findings of previous research, the study added a valuable element to the understanding of these students' experiences by u t i l i z i n g v i s u a l representations of t h e i r experiences and s t o r i e s that were t o l d from t h e i r frames of reference. The richness of information i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' st o r i e s and their drawings shed l i g h t on the struggles, strengths, and hopes of international students, and consequently serves to enable helping professionals to gain insight about these students' experiences. The r e s u l t s encourage further i n v e s t i g a t i o n to explore certain ways to help international students cope with their t r a n s i t i o n s and act u a l i z e t h e i r goals. 122 References Adan, A. M., & Felner, R. D. (1995). E c o l o g i c a l congruence and adaptation of minority youth during the t r a n s i t i o n to college. Journal of Community Psychology, 23, 256-269. Al l a n , J. (1988) . Inscapes of the child ' s world: Jungian counselling i n schools and c l i n i c s . Dallas, TX: Spring Publications. A l l a n , J., & T o f f o l i , G. (1989). Guided imagery: Group guidance for ESL students. Toronto, ON: Lugus Publishers Ltd. Alexander, A. A., Klein, M. 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Psychological adaptation of Chinese sojourners i n Canada. International Journal of Psychology, 26, 451-470. 130 A P P E N D I X B Guided Imagery Scripts Guided Imagery 1- My First Day at a Canadian School Make sure you are i n the relaxed p o s i t i o n . Now close your eyes and t r y to relax your whole body. Notice any part that i s tense and t r y to relax i t . Take a deep breath, hold i t , and then exhale slowly. While you are exhaling, relax your body from head to toe. Try to imagine you can see your muscles relaxing as you focus on your body. You fe e l very comfortable now. You see nothing i n t h i s room or anywhere around you. A l l you can see r i g h t now i s i n your mind. Take three or four very long and deep breaths. As you inhale, take into your body relaxation, and as you exhale, l e t go of any tension you might have i n your body. In... and out. In... and out. Now think about your f i r s t day i n Canadian school. What was your f i r s t day l i k e i n Canadian school? Remember the f i r s t time you went to school i n Canada. What time did you wake up? How d i d you feel when you woke up? Were you excited? Nervous? Or scared. . . What did you do to prepare? Did you have breakfast? Did you talk or eat s i l e n t l y . . . What d i d you do af t e r breakfast? Did you talk or eat s i l e n t l y . . . What did you aft e r breakfast... What time did you leave home? How d i d you go? Did you go by yourself or with someone... How d i d your school look l i k e ? Is there anyone with you or are you by yourself? What did you do at school? Did you know anyone who was i n your class? Did you talk to anyone? What happens before you l e f t school... What was the easiest thing that you had to do at school? What was the most d i f f i c u l t ? A f t e r a week or so, how did you f e e l about your school? Were you happy with your school? Or were you unhappy? In a few moments, you w i l l be back i n t h i s room Slowly open your eyes. Using any image or colours, draw a picture that shows how you f e l t about your f i r s t day i n Canadian school. It can be any image, and there are no right or wrong images or answers to thi s p i c t u r e . 131 Guided Imagery 2 - My Present Life in Canada Make sure you are i n the relaxed position. Now close your eyes and t r y to relax your whole body. Take a deep breath, then exhale slowly. Try to imagine you can see your muscles relaxing as you exhale. You f e e l very comfortable now. You see nothing in t h i s room or anywhere around you. A l l you can see r i g h t now i s i n your mind. Take three or four very long and deep breaths. As you inhale, take into your body relaxation, and as you exhale, l e t go o f the image you drew a while ago. In... and out. In... and out. In... and out. Now think about your l i f e here i n Canada. What i s your average day like? Imagine a t y p i c a l day i n your l i f e . What time do you wake up? How do you f e e l when you wake up... Do you have breakfast by yourself or with anyone? Do you tal k or eat s i l e n t l y . . . What do you do afte r breakfast? Do you have to go anywhere? How do you spend your morning. . . What do you do at lunch time? Are you alone or with anyone? What happens a f t e r lunch? Do you take a break i n the mid-afternoon? What happens before dinner... How do you spend dinner? Do you prepare your food? Do you t y p i c a l l y eat alone or with someone... And what happens after dinner... What do you do at bedtime? Imagine now that you are lying i n bed before you go to sleep thinking your day over. Are you b a s i c a l l y happy with your l i f e i n Canada? Or are you unhappy? What kind of things do you enjoy during your day? What kind of things do you not enjoy? Slowly push down on the surface upon which you are s i t t i n g and slowly open your eyes. Using any images or colours, could you draw or sketch a picture that show how you f e e l about yourself and your l i f e i n Canada now. It can be any way you want i t . There are no right or wrong answers or right or wrong images to t h i s p i c t u r e . 132 Guided Imagery 3 - My Ideal Life in Canada Close your eyes and t r y to relax your whole body. Take three or four deep breaths. In... and out. In... and out. In... and out. As you inhale, your whole body becomes relaxed. And as you exhale, l e t go of the images you drew. Take another deep breath. Inhale, hold i t , and then exhale slowly. You see nothing i n this room or anywhere around you. A l l you can see right now i s i n your mind. Take very long and deep breaths. In... and out. In... and out. Now think about id e a l l i f e here i n Canada. What i s an ideal day l i k e for you i n Canada? Imagine a l l your wishes come true and you are very happy here. What time do you wake up? What do you see around you... Do you have breakfast by yourself or with someone... What do you do af t e r breakfast? Do you go to anywhere? Or do you stay home? How do you spend your morning... What happens around the lunch time? What do you do after lunch? Are you with someone? Or do you spend afternoon by yourself? What do you do i n the afternoon? What happens before dinner... How do you spend dinner? Do you eat by yourself or with someone... What do you do a f t e r dinner? What do you do at bedtime? Imagine now that you are l y i n g i n bed and thinking about your day. what made i t ideal? As you look into the future what would you l i k e to see? In a few moments, you w i l l be back here i n thi s room. Rest for another moment. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Using any images or colours, please draw a picture that describes how you wish your l i f e to become i n Canada. It can be any way, and there are no right or wrong answers or images to t h i s p i c t ure. 133 APPENDIX C Sample Questions of Data Collection Interview (a) Please draw a picture that describes how you f e l t when you started your l i f e i n Canada. (b) What were you thinking when you drew t h i s picture? (c) What does t h i s picture means to you? (d) How were you fee l i n g while you were drawing t h i s picture? (e) Draw a picture that describes how you are f e e l i n g about yourself and your l i f e i n Canada. (f) Do you see any difference i n you picture compared to your f i r s t picture? (g) What brought the change or no change? (h) How would you l i k e to bring changes to your present l i f e ? (i) What have you t r i e d to bring changes to your present l i f e ? (j) How would you l i k e your picture to become? Please draw a picture that describes how you would l i k e your l i f e to be. (k) What do you think you w i l l need to reach t h i s p i c t u r e (the drawing of ideal future l i f e ) from the present l i f e picture? Prompts T e l l me more about that. How did you feel? What went through your mind when that happened? What d i d that mean to you? 135 S E N T E N C E C O M P L E T I O N Q U E S T I O N N A I R E R E S E A R C H O N I N T E R N A T I O N A L S T U D E N T S A N D D R A W I N G 1. When I drew, 2. Drawing about myself makes me 3. When I talk about my drawing, 4. When I drew about the present, 5. When I drew about the future, 6. It's easy to draw 7. It's d i f f i c u l t to draw 8. When I talk about myself, Thank you very much. 136 A P P E N D I X E Miguel's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e I n i t i a l Period Present L i f e 137 APPENDIX F Miguel's Drawing - Ideal Future Life A P P E N D I X G P r e s e n t L i f e 139 APPENDIX H Lucy's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 140 A P P E N D I X I V i c t o r i a ' s Drawings- I n i t i a l and Present L i f e I n i t i a l Period Present L i f e APPENDIX J V i c t o r i a ' s Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 142 APPENDIX K Jamie's Drawings- I n i t i a l and Present L i f e I n i t i a l Period Present L i f e 143 APPENDIX L Jamie's Drawing - Ideal Future L i f e 144 APPENDIX M Katherine's Drawings - I n i t i a l and Present L i f e I n i t i a l Period Present L i f e 146 APPENDIX O Summary of Unique Themes Moving In - Anticipation Period (A) Emotional Dynamics Shame V i c t o r i a described having f e l t so ashamed during the f i r s t week af t e r her a r r i v a l i n Canada. Her feelings of shame were so intense that she wanted to hide from others. (B) External Dynamics Facing Foreign Tasks For Jamie, an unfamiliar task i n school posed the f i r s t challenge. Jamie struggled with r e g i s t r a t i o n and the idea of having to do everything on her own. It was a clear contrast to her home where everything was predetermined and l a i d out for students. Jamie explained as follows: We d i d something l i k e register courses, and something l i k e paying t u i t i o n fees. And I didn't have such experience before. (In China,) we don't need to r e g i s t e r . Yeah, i t ' s automatically, you just go to class and a teacher w i l l t e l l you everything. And every student has exactly same class and lessons you take. (C) Behavioural Dynamics Withdrawal V i c t o r i a avoided s o c i a l contacts i n the f i r s t week of being i n Canada. She stayed at home i n bed most of the time, and waited for time to pass. While V i c t o r i a l a t e r recognized her role i n making the s i t u a t i o n worse for herself, she also believed 147 that i t was a way to store some energy and to gather courage to face her new l i f e . Moving Through - I n i t i a l Period (A) Emotional Dynamics Feeling G u i l t y and Torn Lucy described that she f e l t g u i l t y because she had l e f t her small children for her own education. She was torn between her l i f e i n Canada and her l i f e as a mother at home, and t h i s made the i n i t i a l period very d i f f i c u l t for her because her ch i l d r e n were always on her mind. These feelings i n t e n s i f i e d the pressure to succeed as she thought of the s a c r i f i c e her family made for her education. Confusion over Self-Perception V i c t o r i a ' s experience was unique i n that her self-image changed d r a s t i c a l l y over the course of her school l i f e i n Canada. She was confident i n the beginning, but soon r e a l i z e d that she was not a competent student i n Canada as she had been i n China. This change of self-perception caused her to f e e l confused about her i d e n t i t y . (C) Behavioural Dynamics Using Metaphorical Support V i c t o r i a r e l i e d on her father's l e t t e r as a major source of support when she f e l t sad and depressed during the i n i t i a l period. Although the l e t t e r was i n i t i a l l y perceived as a c r i t i c i s m , i t became an important source of inner strength aft e r 148 she had time to absorb his message. She stated that the l e t t e r gave her strength and courage at times of f e e l i n g down. Moving Out - Present L i f e (A) Emotional Dynamics G u i l t Katherine described feeling g u i l t y towards her family. She fe e l s g u i l t y about sending her daughter to a baby-sitter, about her husband working, and about having l i t t l e time for them. The various r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s she had (as a mother, wife, and student) contributed to this feeling, and t h i s was fueled by the unhappiness Katherine sensed from her husband and her daughter. The l i f e i n Canada for her and her family proved to be very challenging as they a l l struggled with the new culture, new custom, and new language. I s o l a t i o n Lucy reported f e e l i n g i s o l a t e d at times. She explained that she became preoccupied with the heavy school load, and as a consequence, had l i t t l e time or energy l e f t for s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s . However, she recognized the value of support i n dealing with s t r e s s f u l situations, and knew that she could reach out to others. Disappointment with School Miguel described his sense of disappointment i n school. While he enjoyed having much free time, he f e l t a lack of purpose i n his school l i f e . He explained that he f e l t he could achieve 149 more, but sensed that his supervisor did not understand h i s d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n . The communication d i f f i c u l t y he experienced with his supervisor contributed to his d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with school. His sense of disappointment seemed to be further f u e l l e d by the high expectation he had of school l i f e i n Canada. Miguel said that the lack of workload and supervision led him to be apathetic about school, and that he t r i e d to div e r t himself from his unhappiness by focusing on his posi t i v e family l i f e . (B) External Dynamics Identity Issue Jamie explained how she saw herself as being i n between Canadian and Chinese cultures. While her knowledge about Canada has increased and she does not f e e l i n f e r i o r to Canadians anymore, Jamie feels that she cannot change her s e l f to be l i k e a Canadian. This caused inner c o n f l i c t s at times. She perceives distance between herself and Canadians, and her future task seems to l i e i n finding her own place beyond cultures. (C) Behavioural Dynamics Enjoying Family L i f e Miguel i s a c t i v e l y p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n his family l i f e by sharing chores and recreational a c t i v i t i e s with his wife for the f i r s t time since they got married. Because family has an important meaning for Miguel, being able to spend time with his family makes him f e e l content with his l i f e . 150 L i v i n g Independently Jamie expressed s a t i s f a c t i o n with being independent. Although l i v i n g alone posed a challenge i n the i n i t i a l period, she currently feels p o s i t i v e l y about being able to handle her l i f e . 151 APPENDIX P Participants' Responses on Sentence Completion Questionnaires 1. When I drew, Partic i p a n t A: I f e l t unsecure about my drawings because I'm not used to draw anything. I didn't know how to s t a r t . P a r t i c i p a n t B: I t r i e d to t e l l my feeli n g s . P a r t i c i p a n t C: I f e l t not easy to f i n d a p a r t i c u l a r drawing to deliver my feelings which I experienced before. However, I f e l t using colours i s easier for me to r e f l e c t my feelings. P a r t i c i p a n t D: F i r s t , I'm l i t t l e b i t wonder what I "should" draw, so I ask you to confirm "what I should draw". I'm l i t t l e b i t not clear what i s supposed to draw at f i r s t . P a r t i c i p a n t E: I got the opportunity to put on paper my experiences of being a student i n Canada. 2. Drawing about myself makes me Participant A: Happy. It i s very ex c i t i n g to draw about your l i f e or thoughts. Participant B: Rethinking my l i f e . P a rticipant C: Recall of my experiences and f e e l i n g s . Participant D: I don't care about how well I draw about myself because I know i t ' s just l i k e a kind of "symbol" to r e f l e c t my f e e l i n g and thinking so I didn't pay attention to colour and figure and drawing s k i l l s . P a rticipant E: Get i n touch with my feelings i n a concrete way. 3. When I t a l k about my drawing, Participant A: I fee l free to say anything about me or my family or my plans for the future. Parti c i p a n t B: I talked about the most s t r i k i n g things. Participant C: I am more certain of the feelings I experienced. Participant D: I fee l good and necessary to describe what I mean through my drawing. Partic i p a n t E: I begin to see things or aspects/meanings that I didn't have before. 152 4. When I drew about the present, Participant A: I f e l t happy because I l i k e the way I'm l i v i n g . Participant C: I f e l t pretty easy as I am quite comfortable about my present l i f e . P a rticipant D: I f e e l pretty good about my current l i f e , so I draw a beautiful scene to r e f l e c t my s a t i s f y i n g f e e l i n g . Participant E: I f e l t quite happy because I have survived. 5. When I drew about the future, Participant A: I thought about the options I have; I thought about the decisions I have to make. Participant C: I f i r s t found i t ' s hard but then I found i t ' s not that hard. Participant D: I consider d i f f e r e n t aspects of my i d e a l future l i f e . I want to draw a picture: my family i n "paradise". Participant E: I was happy to be i n a pos i t i o n to f e e l that I deserve a better future. I had worked hard enough. draw After you did i t for a while. Once you sta r t , i t i s easy to continue. The present i s the easiest part to draw. Present L i f e . Future than "before" because the f e e l i n g to future day i s sort of generalized f e e l i n g . Not r e a l l y . P a r t i c u l a r l y when your images are complicated as l i f e experiences are. 7. It's d i f f i c u l t to draw Participant A: When you think about the past because you have to go back, to fee l what you f e l t before. Participant B: The f e e l i n g and emotion. Participant C: A p a r t i c u l a r image, but easier to describe i n words. Participant D: " F i r s t day i n Canada". Participant E: Yes - l i f e experiences are unidimensional and i t i s hard to represent dynamics of l i f e on a piece of paper. 6. It's easy to Participant A: Participant C: Participant D: Participant E: 153 8. When I tal k about myself, Pa r t i c i p a n t A: I feel ashame because i t i s not easy to describe oneself without saying something wrong. Part i c i p a n t C: I f e l t as i f I were i n the old days when I f i r s t came here. Par t i c i p a n t D: I fee l relax and excited. I l i k e to t a l k with people and do self-analyze. P a r t i c i p a n t E: It's quite easy and I f e e l that i t i s part of sharing - getting to know each other. I wish the interviewer would "open" herself, too. Kind of fe e l one-sided. 

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