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Perceptions of Chinese International Students in Singapore: Adjustment Issues and Support

Abstract: The number of students choosing to engage in international education is increasing. Typically, the United States has been the number one destination for international students but that has declined in recent years (2002 to 2006). This implies that international students choose to study in other English speaking countries or in countries that may be more similar in culture. The purpose of this study was to explore the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of undergraduate Mainland Chinese international students who were studying at a university in Singapore. The focus was to understand their perceptions of the adjustments issues they faced as international students. Twenty-one (21) students were interviewed using a semi-structured face-to-face technique. A review of the literature was conducted. The three major areas of difficulty identified were learning to speak English, weather, and food. The most helpful support reported by the Chinese international students was the ‘English Bridging course’. Overall, general adaptation to life and study in Singapore presented no major obstacles for the Chinese international students and this resulted in low utilization of and need for existing support services. The respondents reported that learning to speak English was the most difficult adaptation they encountered due to the widespread use of Mandarin and Singlish by the local population. Interestingly the issues identified in other research studies such as difficulty with general living adjustment, personal psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and culture shock were not supported in this research. Also, loneliness, homesickness, anxiety, lack of social support, and difficulty with finances were not identified as major issues for this group of Chinese international students. This led the researcher to conclude that the more similar a host country is to the home country in culture and language, the easier the general adjustment of the international student. Also, the researcher concluded that the similarity in language (Mandarin) from the home country (China) to the host country (Singapore) is both a negative and a positive – it can greatly and positively facilitate general adjustment of an international student but it can hinder the English language adjustment and learning. Suggestions for future research were included in this study.

Author: Kelly Dawn Steele

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 708.37 KB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015