"The American Experience in Aberdeen”: ‘Cultural Cliques’ and the International Student Community

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The last two decades have witnessed unprecedented numbers of students choosing to leave their home countries and pursue higher education overseas. Students are now able to study (almost) anywhere they wish, provided they have access to the necessary financial capital. The motivations to engage in such mobility are both multifaceted and complex in nature, encompassing a range of different factors including a desire for cultural enrichment and self-development that they believe to be unobtainable at home. This paper demonstrates that the UK is frequently understood as a place in which a multicultural environment is the norm, at least within a higher education setting. It draws on evidence gathered from students at three UK universities and illustrates that they choose to study here not only to obtain qualifications but equally to “broaden their horizons”. In short, students identify study abroad as a key stage within the creation of their biographies, a period of self-development which comes about, in part, as a result of cross-cultural experiences. However, it will also illustrate that the formation of ‘cultural cliques’ within the student community often prevent these perceptions from becoming reality. This paper will demonstrate that students are often drawn into homophilious networks when overseas. Indeed, the evidence suggests that success at creating cross-cultural relationships with the host-student community is often reliant upon an individual’s personality, supporting work by Gareis (2000).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2013
EventRGS-IBG Annual International Conference - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Aug 201330 Aug 2013


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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