Transformation of identities in international educational milieu of university in Sweden

University essay from Örebro universitet/Institutionen för humaniora, utbildnings- och samhällsvetenskap

Abstract: This thesis focuses on the transformation of identities of international master students attending Örebro University along with their perception of how this experience will affect their future. A qualitative content analysis of 10 semi-structured interviews was employed to explore the topic and answer the research questions. The thesis is guided by the theoretical background that stands on the synthesis of Jenkins’ perception of identity and the identity theory, supplemented by the understanding of international students as ‘student travellers’. The analysis of respondents’ narratives revealed that all aspects of their identity were affected. International students, throughout their stay abroad, live in a certain bubble as they distance themselves from the society on one hand and identify with the international students’ group on the other, affecting their social identity. However, before a new identity is formed and while the old one is being changed, the students experience a state of limbo during which uncertainty of roles emerges. Their person identity is influenced as well due to the international experience providing an opportunity to consciously alter some aspects of personality and, furthermore, to promote their independence, open-mindedness, and awareness of other cultures. Additionally, through contact with these other cultures, the international student develops into a person of two minds – international and of the country of their origin. In regards to the students’ perception of the future, the desire to stay international, to travel and live abroad is essential in creating something of a nomad life. Moreover, the respondents considered the international experience to have a positive impact on their career through an advantageous position over others along with the acquisition of an international network.

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