Study abroad tales: Experiences of international students in Taiwan

Author/s:

Ching, Gregory S.*
Graduate Institute of Educational Leadership and Development, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (gregory_ching@yahoo.com; 094478@mail.fju.edu.tw)

Wang, Wen-Lin
Graduate Institute of Educational Leadership and Development, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (050878@mail.fju.edu.tw)

Wen, Tzi Sin
Office of Teacher Education and Career Service, National Taichung University of Education, Taiwan (kksunnccu@gmail.com)

Abstract:

In Taiwan, the need to recruit for study abroad or foreign students is actually not by choice, but is of a necessity. For the 2016 school year alone, low numbers of birth-rate for the past two decades have led to the plunge of around 30,000 university enrollees. In effect, the Taiwan Ministry of Education encourages higher education institutions to become more internationalized and start accepting more foreign students. However, with the competition for study abroad students is quite high. Hence, in order to position Taiwan as an international education provider, focus on the quality of the academic and social aspects of study abroad program are seen as crucial. In light of these issues, the current paper depicts the results of a quasi-ethnographic study on the experiences of study abroad students in Taiwan. Primary objective of the study is to better understand how students adapt or adjust to an unfamiliar culture and at the same time understand the students’ study processes. A total of 5 international graduate student participants underwent the one-year study. Data collection includes periodic interviews and observations. Results are then separated into five sections, namely: Scholarship and study abroad, value for money, first contact, occasions and holidays, and academic studies. Various insights and implications are provided. Lastly, the study also emphasizes the importance of qualitative studies in study abroad such as ethnographic ones, which is actually lacking in Taiwan.

Keywords: study abroad; acculturation; quasi-ethnography; periodic interview; Taiwan

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsp.2016.1616

*Corresponding Author