Transitional Challenges, Assimilation Strategies, and Changes That Higher Education Libyan Female Students at Western Universities Inspire Upon Returning Home.




Ezzreg, Huneda

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This doctoral thesis employs a feminist narrative approach to shape a qualitative study that introduces and explains the journey of four Libyan women (including myself as a participant) who travelled abroad with/without their families to achieve a higher education degree from a Western university. The thesis also explores these women’s adjustment to the Libyan community when they returned home. The study strives to contribute to the existing literature by filling the knowledge gap associated with the lack of adequate research on the challenges Libyan female learners face, mainly due to their Islamic background, when pursuing higher education abroad. The thesis results will be instrumental in understanding the role of unique cultures in influencing lived experiences for female learners in international universities in Western nations. These insights are necessary for shaping future strategies to help students from such populations successfully transition to their new environment (Alzain et al., 2014). The study adopts a qualitative feminism approach to derive the meaning of the recorded responses. More specifically, I analyze conversations while considering their social context. The focus is on analyzing the purpose and impact of the different cultural experiences, beliefs, values, and assumptions the women communicate and the cultural rules and conventions inherent in their communications. The data analysis sections reveal common themes across the participants’ feedback. Each woman describes experiencing culture shock, social isolation due to language barriers, and challenges with Western pedagogy. Through a feminist research approach that employs face-to-face interviews and focus group tools, this research captures the participants’ personal experiences as female students from Libya. The challenges they encounter expose them to psychological and emotional stress, restricting their academic success (Rienties & Tempelaar, 2013). To overcome these challenges, the women reveal their utilization of different coping mechanisms, including Western universities’ support systems, social support, and instructor support.



Qualitative, Auto-ethnography, Feminist Approach, Culture, Language, Religion, Values, and Education Differences, Gendered Social Constructs, Libyan Female Students