He stopped the diary out of fear for his eyesight, and said that abandoning it was a form of death.
(Tomalin 2002:xxxvii, 279)
I always have to write something every day. A day when I write nothing is a desert.
The phrase, 'When I write, I think' was proffered by a Chinese student, quite spontaneously, in a counselling interview several years ago. (Extraordinarily, the same phrase was expressed by another international student from quite another part of the world, in the survey described in this chapter.)
The two quotations used above (the first refers to Samuel Pepys, the seventeenth-century diarist) further underpin the very considerable existential value of writing for the writers themselves.
This chapter constitutes an attempt to synthesise the accounts offered by some international students at a British university on their 'personal' writing activities. In the UK, the majority of international students are between the ages of 18 and 30. They are a group (comprising approximately 100,000 students currently studying in the UK) who have ended up, for the purpose of pursuing higher education, living in a country other than their own for an extended period of time. This chapter therefore focuses upon their experiences of (and with) writing during their cross-cultural sojourn.
The following brief study highlights yet again the therapeutic and educational potential of 'personal writing' and also indicates the extent to which such writing might assist the writer in combating the many challenges to personal identity that are an inevitable and sometimes painful consequence of moving cultures.