New Understanding of the Barriers to Foreign Students Adaptation in the Changing Educational Landscape: A Narrative Analysis
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nowadays life in every aspect so irreversibly that there is no doubt that the educational landscape must be continuously re-evaluated and revised. In this regard, particular emphasis is given to the issues of academic mobility and adaptation of foreign students. The aim of the study is to clarify a new understanding of the issues traditionally faced by foreign students in universities in the host country and to analyze new barriers that have arisen as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper reports on a narrative research study exploring the experiences and perceptions of 42 first-year bachelor and master foreign students having come to Russia for the first time. Taking into account that human behaiviour can be predicted through language patterns, we analysed language features to compare the participants’ rational and emotional perception of the barriers to adaptation highlighted from their narratives. The findings suggest that almost all issues traditionally faced by foreign students have received a new understanding or have changed their hierarchy in their perception. Contemporary challenges have also created new barriers to adaptation. Temporalities and restrictions in physical movement received special emphasis as an obstacle to adaptation of foreign students. In the context of the total transformation that awaits higher education after the end of the pandemic and its transition to a hybrid format, the results of this study can be used by academic developers to establish a system of foreign students’ psychological adaptation.
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