Accessing the “accessible”: Chinese students’ cultural adaptation in Australia

Year: 2019

Author: Zhan, Jinyang

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Chinese students make up the largest portion of the international students in Australia, while their intercultural experiences and cultural adaptation are under-researched. This one-year ethnographic case study employs interviews (semi-structured interviews and focus group) and observations (classroom observations and social network exchange collection) to explore 11 Chinese students’ intercultural experiences and cultural adaptation in an Australian university. Bourdieu’s (2013) theorization of capital, field, and habitus is used to interpret how the students transform various capital in the Australian field through their internal habitus. Analysis of the data shows that the students had limited intercultural experiences and found no difficulty in adaptation because they chose to stay in the “Chinese bubble” which is easier for them to be accessed in Australia. This decision is made due to their motivation for obtaining the overseas diploma from the Australian university and their misconception of culture as symbols. The relations of students’ motivation, their conceptualization of culture, and limited intercultural experiences are also proposed in the study.