UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The living and learning experiences of Saudi Arabian undergraduate students in a Western Canadian University Alghamdi, Norah Abdullah G.


Saudi Arabian student enrollment in undergraduate programs has been increasing over the years in postsecondary institutions worldwide. This has been more so in English speaking countries. Yet, there has been no research investigating Saudi undergraduate students’ living and learning experiences in postsecondary institutions abroad. Hence, the study reported in this thesis explored through a qualitative case study Saudi Arabian undergraduate students’ experiences at a Western Canadian University (WCU). The goal was to understand the nature of Saudi students’ living and learning experiences during their study abroad and in particular at a WCU. Involvement and sociocultural theoretical frameworks and narrative methodology were employed to interview 10 undergraduate students from Saudi Arabia studying at WCU. Narrative method of interviewing allowed the students to tell stories of their living and learning experiences at WCU. A search for common patterns within each individual story and across the stories revealed two key themes common to their experiences: 1) “Expression of an Understanding of Educational Systems and the Complexities and Challenges of Attending a Canadian University”, manifest in both: a) academic; and b) language encounters; and 2) “Expression of Understanding Social Complexities”, which manifested in encounters involving: 1) new cultures and environments; and 2) different rules and responsibilities. The study’s findings reveal insights into the challenges and successes experienced by Saudi Arabian students studying at a WCU and personal responsibilities they considered to be successful as well as offer suggestions for ways stakeholders can make Saudi student study at WCU a rewarding experience.

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