Vietnamese International Students' Experiences in a New Zealand University: A Narrative Study
This narrative study explored the adjustment experiences of six Vietnamese international students at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Data for the study were based on two sources; in-depth interviewing and the researcher's field notes. Each of participants was interviewed twice on their adjustment experiences in New Zealand. Thematic analysis was applied to their stories and positioning theory provided a theoretical lens to further analyze and interpret the participants' stories. The findings of the study indicated that the participants experienced many new and different things. Most experienced a stressful academic environment during their first few weeks but they felt better as time passed. The most common challenges they faced related to language issues. Difficulties came from differences between cultures with a mismatch between the participants' previous learning experiences and teaching and learning in the new environment. The participants felt stressed by the amount of self-directed learning expected. These challenges brought benefits such as becoming independent and self- regulated learners. After one trimester one participant had happily adapted and thought of a future life in New Zealand. Three participants had gradually adapted and come to enjoy their new life Two of the six students were clear that they did not belong in New Zealand and wanted to finish their degree and then go back to Vietnam. The study concluded that the participants had diverse difficulties studying and living in New Zealand, mostly related to the different academic environment, language and culture. The participants used various coping strategies to deal with their challenges in the new environment and the main source of their support was from friends and families.