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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Amid storied, shared, and envisioned lives : a narrative inquiry of undergraduate exchange students in and between Canada and the Republic of Korea Kang, Jeong-Ja


Despite the growth in the number of participants in exchange programs, exchange students in and between Canada and the Republic of Korea (Korea) have received very little academic attention. To explore student motivations as well as their transnational experiences and their reflections on these experiences, I examined the lives of nine undergraduate exchange students between Canada and Korea, employing a narrative inquiry methodology. Idiosyncratic vignettes of these students’ disjunctures from their home country and multidirectional practices in their host country were analyzed through the theoretical lenses of global flows, cultural and neoliberal globalization, and social imaginaries in the Thirdspace (Soja, 1996, 2009). For the nine exchange students, embarking on an overseas exchange emerged from interactions between global flows and their localities. For these students, going on an exchange was an opportunity not only to be freed from their home country and its many stresses, but also to become equipped with a competitive edge as a global talent. Throughout these engagements with foreignness, they gradually enhanced their critical awareness of pedagogical, cultural, and spatial differences, even if their embrace of otherness was often limited due to their identity as temporary sojourners in the host country. Since exchange programs are based on official agreements between home and host universities, administrative terrains were examined and unequal relationships between universities in Anglophone countries and Korean universities emerged. Arguing that current exchange programs between Canadian and Korean universities have reinforced contemporary social inequality, this study recommends creating more inclusive exchange programs by interjecting diversity into the selection criteria and offering shared spaces where exchange students can interact with local students in their academic, relational, and cultural arenas.

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