Intercultural Challenges of Western Exchange Students in Study Abroad in Japan: Voices of Western ‘Other’ and Identity Constructions (74861)

Session Information: Education and Contemporary Development Issue
Session Chair: Naomi Tsunematsu

Saturday, 25 November 2023 12:45
Session: Session 2
Room: Room D (Live Stream)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

This research investigated intercultural challenges and identity constructions of Western exchange students studying in Japan who have been marginalized in international students’ research, using qualitative research method. Voices of Western students studying in Japan have been invisible in English publications, and their culturally specific challenges and their influence on their identity constructions in Japan have not been examined sufficiently. Further, Western students’ study abroad experiences have not been sufficiently researched in Japanese publications. This research fills the gap by investigating the voices of exchange students from North America, Europe, and Oceania on their intercultural challenges specific to studying abroad in Japan, and their cultural and personal dilemma with their identity constructions.

Students’ narratives disclosed that students had strong aspiration to acquire Japanese language proficiency and learn Japanese culture through study abroad, and they wanted to connect their valuable experiences to their future career related to Japan. Students had concerns about their lack of Japanese communicative competence and cultural knowledge, which could result in impolite behavior. Japanese language is closely related to relationally defined selves based on social hierarchies in Japan, which could shatter Western students’ assumption of their core identities. Students had cultural dilemma and internal conflict with the Japanese cultural influence on their identities and agency freedom. The research found that reflections on their intercultural experiences is critical, and educational support is needed to enhance students’ understanding of culturally distant host culture. Guidance on how to cope with cultural dilemma can significantly influence students’ future relationship with Japan.

Naomi Tsunematsu, Hiroshima University, Japan

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Naomi Tsunematsu is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at Hiroshima University in Japan

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00