A home away from home? An interpretative phenomenological analysis of Vietnamese students’ acculturation experiences in Aotearoa-New Zealand
This study explores the everyday experiences of 10 Vietnamese master’s students from an Aotearoa-New Zealand university through a series of semi-structured in-depth interviews. An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach enabled me to capture the essential meanings of the participants’ experiences and understand what it was like to be Vietnamese students in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
In academic settings, the students initially struggled to deal with a range of new and unfamiliar learning and teaching styles (e.g., classroom discussion) and conventions about referencing and citing. These made them feel overwhelmed and bewildered. During these formative months, many of them experienced language difficulties, a sense of cultural dislocation, and a deep yearning for their families. These difficulties forced them to learn to deal with challenges and become independent. The students drew strength from their Vietnamese cultural values and practices to overcome difficulties.
Based on the findings, I propose a framework for exploring the experience of short-term Vietnamese international students. The study provides implications for host universities to assist Vietnamese students as they orient themselves to daily life in Aotearoa-New Zealand.