I met with Mr Ian Yemm who is the University Coordinating Chaplain for the UWE Faith and Spirituality Team. He works very closely with overseas students to help facilitate religious practises on campus. We spoke about the relationship between international and home students and he said that, while UWE is very ‘diverse and accepting’, ‘religious literacy’ was an issue. UK students can be put off from talking to international students as the topic of religion can cause them to worry they may say something to offend or they may feel as though they shouldn’t ask questions in the first place. He felt that if students had easy access to information they would feel less daunted and it would make it easier for people to make friends. This gave me some great insight that was consistent with my earlier research; having more information on different cultures would help to bridge the gap and help friendships form.
Following this I spoke with two international students and one home student about their experiences at University.
- People make assumptions about race
- There is a lack of understanding between different cultures
- Lack of opportunity to meet
I then conducted research to help validate these findings using research papers that have explored the difficulties international students face when studying abroad.