Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Language, Innovation, Culture & Education 2017

Intercultural Adjustment: Female Saudi Students' Experiences in the United Kingdom

Huda Ali Alqahtani

Karen Pfeffer

University of Lincoln, United Kingdom


Saudi Arabia’s culture involves a complex mixture of religious, tribal and cultural principles, which has given Saudi women a unique position compared to women elsewhere in both the Arab and Western world. In recent years, Saudi Universities and institutions have become increasingly eager to send their female staff abroad for study purposes. Adapting to a new country or culture and education system involves changes and adjustments which might be experienced as challenging by female Saudi international students. The research aim is to investigate the adjustment experiences of Saudi female in the United Kingdom. A mixed methods approach was used, combining quantitative and qualitative analysis of questionnaires and interviews with 25 female Saudi PhD students. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. There were two main themes: academic adaptation and parenting. Most of the comments for academic adaptation emphasized challenges. Participants felt that the requirements of the education system in the UK represented a major challenge, they noted a lack of skills and knowledge needed in order to achieve academically, students who had completed their MA studies in the UK found it less challenging to adapt academically to PhD. Both negative and positive points emerged in the parenting theme. Participants commented on the difficulty of raising their children in two distinct cultures, a decline in the children’s Arabic language and socio-cultural skills, worries about instability of their children’s national, religious and linguistic identities. Positive comments included growing closer to their children, and the positive impact of the experiences of acculturation and adaptation on their children.


female, Saudi students, experiences, adjustment

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