Making new friends: Social concepts of study abroad

2014 IJRSP – Volume 3 Issue 5


Huang, Hsiao-Ching
Department of Applied Foreign Languages, Lunghwa University of Science and Technology, Taiwan (

Chen, Shun-Der
Department of Library and Information Science, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (

Ching, Gregory S.*
Graduate Institute of Educational Leadership and Development, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (;


For the past few years, Asian universities have been trying to position themselves as a venue for study abroad opportunities. This is also quite true in Taiwan, wherein universities are exerting much effort in the recruitment of international students. Within the paradigm of internationalization, having international students in Taiwan is a way to promote communication, understanding, and friendship between other countries around the world. Moreover, it is hypothesized that successful internationalization is built upon the friendships that are form between student exchanges. In addition, with the current increased emphasis in student exchanges with mainland China, it would be quite important to determine the various concepts on friendship within these students. Therefore, the current study seeks to analyze the different insights between the Chinese and local Taiwan students’ concepts on friendship. Using a mixed-method paradigm, 6 groups of volunteer students enrolled in a technical and vocational university in Taiwan participated in a series of focus group discussions. Afterwards, a survey was designed from the focus group interview results. The survey was then administered to 200 volunteer mainland Chinese and local Taiwan students. Statistical results show that there are both similarities and differences within the concepts on friendship. Local students are eager to make friends with their international peers, while majority of them thought primarily of the opportunity to understand a new culture. In addition, survey results also show that the highest factor is the social results; wherein the students’ goal is to expand their world view and gain interpersonal relationship.

Keywords: study abroad; social norms; intercultural friendship; mixed-method study; focus groups interview



*Corresponding Author