Educational journeys of international postgraduate students studying at UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal) : a narrative inquiry.
In studying postgraduate students’ lived experiences and their learning moments in their postgraduate studies, my study offers a deeper understanding of who these African, international, postgraduate students are and how they negotiate their learning experiences within the various social, personal and professional spaces at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). I explored postgraduate students’ lived experiences in higher education within the context of internationalisation. My study is located within a qualitative research approach which allows me to understand the postgraduate students’ lived experiences in higher education from the perspective of the participants, as they negotiate and construct particular meanings of self and learning.Using a narrative inquiry approach offered me the opportunity to reflect on the diversity, richness and complexities involved in understanding the personal and professional learning experiences of postgraduate international students studying in higher education. The research methods used included life history interviews, collage and photo voice to understand the complexities, challenges and highlights of studying in a foreign country. The data generated enabled me to produce rich and vivid narrative accounts of their learning.Through narrative analysis, two reconstructed students' stories were produced. The findings of the data show that international students are faced with both positive and negative learning experiences. Particular meanings of self shaped by dominant discourses and practices in their homeland shape who they are as international postgraduate students. The study concludes that these African, international, postgraduate students’ personal, social and professional identities are negotiated on a daily basis within the postgraduate learning. Their professional space offered them a platform to realise their goals at UKZN as international students.
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