International Male Students’ First-Year Experience
Al-Haque, (MOHD). Rashed
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The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of four racialized, male, first-year, international students attending a university in southern Ontario and living in university residence. Through four one-on-one interviews, my qualitative study sought to uncover the challenges, needs, and opportunities of these students. In addition to cultural and academic adjustment, my study focused on how the participants preserved their masculine and cultural/religious identities in a Western university. A secondary purpose of my study was to examine how these four international students experienced living in university residences, what challenges they faced, and how their specific needs were met. Four themes emerged from the interviews. First, the participants outlined their difficulties adjusting to Canadian university culture. While some enjoyed the transition to Canada, others found adjusting their cultural identities challenging. Second, these participants struggled to adjust to the academic rigour and workload during their first year at university. Despite the demands of university academics, the participants generally welcomed the freedom and flexibility of university life, which allowed them to create their own work schedules and engage in their social lives. Third, the participants maintained their masculine and cultural identities, to more or lesser degrees, despite being immersed in the social and cultural norms of Canadian university life. While some felt isolated within Queen’s University because of their different cultural and masculine identities, overall, these participants valued their own identities and resolved to preserve them. Finally, the participants discussed the benefits and challenges of living in university residences. While residences tended to provide the participants with a sense of community and belonging, sometimes it was challenging living in a loud and hectic environment.