Student Mobility and Narrative in Europe: The New Strangers

Student Mobility and Narrative in Europe: The New Strangers

Student Mobility and Narrative in Europe: The New Strangers

Student Mobility and Narrative in Europe: The New Strangers

Synopsis

Bringing together case studies and theory, this book is the first in-depth qualitative study of student migration within Europe. Drawing on the theory of 'the stranger' as a sociological type, the author suggests that the travelling European students can be seen as a new migratory elite. The book presents the narratives of travelling students, explains their motivations, the effects of movement into a new social and cultural context, the problems of adaptation, and describes the construction of social networks, and the process of adaptation to new cultures.

Excerpt

The analysis of European student travellers incorporating their experience in a broader theoretical and empirical context provides a new conceptual approach to the research of the stranger. Reviewing previous research on the topic, both in and outside Europe, the European student stay abroad appears as part of a long tradition and at the same time as a new development, relatively under-researched. The student is only a temporary migrant, but considering the 'sojourn experience' (Berry, 2000) alongside a larger set of migrant experiences illuminates both the singularity and the universality of a phenomenon which is becoming increasingly common. The European student experience of mobility exemplifies the new forms which cross-cultural travel and temporary integration from one European member state to another may take.

In this chapter, we present the methodological framework for this exploration of a singular form of mobility. The choices made, notably the selection of a cross-European group and of three different cases of student mobility for observation, break with conventional practice. The fifty students interviewed are then profiled in terms of their age, gender, national origin, and destination. The research unites voices from various origins which, together with the students' fifty individual stories, create a polyphony exploring the experience of strangeness through a diversity of narratives.

International migrants form a highly complex group. Their movements are helped or hindered by countries of origin and receiving countries. The decisions made are subjected to fluctuating political and personal choices. According to Mukherjee, the major narratives of expatriation, exile, immigration and repatriation represent 'four ways of accommodating the modern restlessness, the modern dislocations, the abuses of history, the hopes of affluence' (1999:84). To Mukherjee, the narrative of expatriation 'drips with respectability, or at least with privilege, but the narrative of immigration calls to mind crowded tenements, Ellis island, sweatshops, accents, strange foods, taxicab drivers, bizarre holidays, strange religions, unseemingly ethnic passions' (ibid.: 79). Furthermore, expatriation, as an 'act of sustained self-removal', allows for the 'dual vision of the detached outsider' (ibid.: 72). But, immigration is not an elegant narrative

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