Exploration , discovery, reflection : journeys of understanding : life histories of first-year students and the impact on their interactions in a higher education and residence environment.
This study is a qualitative inquiry into the lives of first-year residence students at the Durban University of Technology. Six students volunteered to be participants in this study, and they discussed their life stories freely and frankly. Interviews were conducted as conversations rather than formal question-and-answer sessions, and this method elicited rich and vibrant material. This dissertation considers the specific stories of two of these students, Student A and Student B, and how their life experiences have affected them. The study looks at what these experiences have been whilst the students were at home and at school; what their experiences are as first-year students residing in an institutional residence; and how all these experiences have impacted on their transition to life at university. The theory of development and the search for identity are at the core of this investigation. Their life stories have illustrated the role that development plays in their individual growth and development through the adolescent and young adult years. Their search for their own identity as African youth in post-apartheid South Africa has direct relevance and bearing on the reality of life in the country today. The students identify issues that cause them difficulty and concerns, such as family relationships, homesickness, cultural conflicts, and peer pressure. They talk at length about specific incidents and situations that have caused them stress and worry, and through their stories we can see how they are developing their own identity as they try to make sense of their world at home, at university, and in residence. The conclusion highlights the themes that have risen through the analysis of their stories: the commonalities, the pressures, the worries and concerns, and the interventions that could be made to ease the transition phase.