A Longitudinal Investigation of the Sociocultural Adaptation of Brazilian Students in New Zealand
Global mobility means increasing numbers of individuals are exposed to potentially stressful experiences in their cross-cultural transition. A process of cultural learning is required to overcome differences between host and home culture during sociocultural adaptation. To study this process, this thesis employed a mixed-methods approach examining adaptive trajectory over a six-month educational exchange. The study analysed a unique population of 279 Brazilian high school students from low SES backgrounds arriving in New Zealand. Results from cross-lagged panel models in Study 1 indicated that higher initial ratings of English progress led to subsequent higher levels of interactions with New Zealanders three months after, which then led to higher ratings of language progress at the final time-point. A longitudinal mediation showed interaction with New Zealanders at the mid-point of the sojourn helped explain increased English ability over time. No longitudinal relations were observed for culture shock, indicating the influence of language progress and interactions with host culture on culture shock may vary across populations. In Study 2, we used thematic analysis on students’ open-ended interview responses to examine what their experiences in the new culture were. Three themes were identified: opportunities, difficulties, and general feelings. The identified themes supported the findings of Study 1 and highlighted the crucial role of language and social support during the students’ experiences. Combined, the studies partially confirmed previous research with our unique sample of Brazilian students, and placed further emphasis on the need to sample different populations in the study of adaptation.