Transnational Experiences of Ugandan Students in Gothenburg, Sweden; Challenges and Adaptation strategies
Abstract: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the transnational experiences of Ugandan students in Gothenburg; Sweden. The focus was to understand how cultural differences affect the academic and social life of these students, the ways in which they adapt to the new host country Sweden, challenges they might have encountered and how they have managed to overcome them. Furthermore, the study also aimed to ascertain the impact of the families back home on students’ life while abroad. In this study, there is difference between the use of terms coping mechanisms and adaptation strategies. The study engaged nine Ugandan students who were within the region of Gothenburg and were affiliated to any institution of higher learning. In-depth face to face interviews were employed for the nine participants. While a focus group interview guide was used to conduct focus group discussion. The focus group discussion consisted of four participants. Insights were employed from the acculturation theory by Berry (2005) and the migration network theory (Collyer, 2011; Oreilly, 2012). These two theories were used as a theoretical framework and a lens through which meaning was developed in the study. Thematic analysis was used to identify meaningful and recurring ideas from the data and later develop themes.The findings led to the conclusion that cultural differences emerged with both positive and negative impacts to students’ academic and social lives. The study revealed that students experienced more positive impacts in the academic life than social life. The findings also allowed concluding that even though students encountered challenges, they devised coping mechanisms that helped them. In addition, social networks were discovered as vital in helping students to cope with their problems for example the friends students had made during their stay in Sweden. The study recognized the creative adaptation strategies employed by the students that helped them to fit into their new environment. The findings revealed that families provided emotional and practical support that motivated and partly enhanced student’s wellbeing. The study found out that support given by families is transmitted through communication by use of digital technologies. Despite the positive vital role played by the family to enhance the wellbeing of students abroad, the study revealed that families also caused stressful impact to the students while abroad through their demands for remittances.
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