Culture Shock and Adaptation
A Narrative Analysis of Saudi Arabian Students’ Experiences at Tertiary Education Institutions
The United States has seen considerable growth in the number of Arabic speaking students over the last few years (Mitchell, 2020). Given the global rise in anti-Muslim sentiments in the world, however, many international students from the Middle East face complex challenges. There is an inevitable cultural shock that requires adaptations and adjustments. The authors of this paper conducted in-depth interviews with seven Saudi Arabian international students. We examined their shared narratives to gain insight and perspective into the challenges they face. They reported a variety of challenges, including the absence of family ties, lack of sense of community, religious practice differences, and difficulty navigating differences in verbal/nonverbal language differences and gender role expectations. This is consistent with the dimensions of cultural adjustment discussed by Kim’s (2001; 2005; 2017) Integrated Communication Theory of Cross-Cultural Adaptation. The results of this study can be applied to help orient international students.
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