Out of Chaos, Into a New Identity: The Transformative Power of the International Sojourn

Authors: Brown, L. and Brown, J.

Journal: Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis

Volume: 20

Pages: 341-361

ISSN: 0958-0476

This paper uses data from an ethnographic study of international students adjustment to illustrate the transformative potential of the international student sojourn. Removal from the familiar home environment gave students freedom from cultural and familial expectations and the opportunity for self-discovery that routine tends to prohibit. The initial product of transition was stress and anxiety but the outcome was that students became independent, strong, assertive and thoughtful. The durability of change was questioned by students who were apprehensive about re-entry to the origin culture and the receptivity of those left behind to the changes they had made.

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