Traversing and transcending the boundaries of home and homeland: A narrative of an international postgraduate student from China

Year: 2012

Author: Fang, Fang

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


With the megatrend of increasing internationalization of higher education, the pursuit of an overseas learning experience has been gaining momentum among Chinese students. However, on account of social, cultural and economic difference between the home and host country, studying at an overseas university embraces either the chance to prosper or the challenge to perish. At the initial stage of landing at a western institution, the shockwave of conflicts, confrontations and contentions could be intense, and what a Chinese student assumes a success at last would be unwittingly turned out to be a succession of continuous learning in which acute inadequacies are recognized. Traversing across borders and juggling a multitude of cultures and identities in bewilderment and confusion, there is a necessity for each international student from China to decompose cultures, heritages and habits according to a relocated home and a repositioned homeland in order to adopt unfamiliar perspectives and adapt to a totally different academic environment. Using the research methodology of narrative, this paper attempts to reveal the critical moments of response, reflection and renewal. Drawing from the theories of Paulo Freire, Michel Foucault, Edward Said and Mikhail Bakhtin, the study tries to penetrate through the surface of misconception, misjudgement and misunderstanding to analyse the causes underpinning the melodramas of transition and transformation. The research aims to explore what gradually leads to the actualization of aspiration and achievement in a process of performance and progress.  The result of the interrogation would provide policy makers, administrators, educators and international students a glimpse into the complexities of studying abroad so as to establish a better institutional platform as well as a more informed self-supporting system.