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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of the international students' adjustment processes through drawings and in-depth interviews. A qualitative approach was used to guide the data collection and analysis. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with a volunteer sample of five graduate international students. The interviews aimed to obtain accounts and drawings that describe their experiences of the initial period in Canada and present lives as well as their 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 first by a fellow researcher, and secondly through validation interviews with the participants. The results revealed a number of common and unique themes that were grouped under the following three dynamics: emotional, external, and behavioural. The results suggest that international students experienced various challenges during the initial period of being in Canada, and these challenges resulted in feelings such as nervousness, fear, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of invisibility , and excitement. Description of their present lives indicated that they had adjusted to and were comfortable with their new lives in Canada. These themes and each participant's story were visually depicted in their drawings. The implication of these results is that international students are likely to benefit from counselling interventions particularly in the beginning of their time in Canada. Counsellors may utilize drawings for advantages revealed in this study; drawings may enable counsellors to understand these students' experiences from the perspectives of these students and to transcend cultural barriers. Furthermore, the results highlight the importance of considering international students as individuals with strengths, and treating each individual's experience as unique while being aware of the common struggles many of these students face. Finally, this study encourages further research in order to broaden our understanding of international students' experiences.

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