Reflection: Rationale of the Research Study

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Rationale of the research study

In 2013, I was granted a scholarship from the Saudi government to pursue graduate studies in Australia. I was gratified because I had a fortuitous opportunity to develop my skills, to broaden my knowledge and to add distinction to my qualifications. Nevertheless, at the same time, I was concerned because I would visit a new country that I little knowledge of. In fact, embarking on graduate studies was the first time for me to travel to a non-Arab country. A month before my departure, by chance, I met one of my old mates who graduated from one of the Australian universities and had just returned to Saudi Arabia for a short time. I asked her to tell me about her scholarship experience during her stay in Australia because sharing her experiences could provide me with information. She expressed her happiness to help me with any enquiry I may need. She provided me with information about the environment and the systems of study. She also gave me information about life in Australia in general as well as about the people, the cultures and the customs. She also advised me to read and to learn about foreign cultures using different types of social media because she wanted me to avoid any challenges or difficulties when I arrived as she faced challenges due to her lack of knowledge related to foreign cultures. I accepted her advice and spent about two weeks reading about the various cultures in Australia.

When I arrived in Melbourne, I met people from different cultures with varied cultural identities. Different cultures and cultural identities had become familiar to me because I learned much about them from my mate as well as from my readings. However, I faced one cultural problem when I first came to Australia was that in Saudi Arabia there was a segregation between the two in all aspects of life even in the education system however in Australia there isn’t any. This made me hard to adapt to this change in the foreign land but I gradually became used to it. 

In Melbourne, I found that there was a large number of Saudi people, including males and females, who came to pursue academic studies. I met a number of Saudi women, and we decided to create a group on WhatsApp to support and to help each other for those of us who faced difficulties or had certain enquiries. Due to Saudi cultural customs regarding gender segregation, this group was created only for Saudi women and was comprised of both those who came to pursue academic studies and those who came as dependents. In the WhatsApp group, I observed that most of the group discussions involved questions about the cultures in Australia. Most Saudi women faced difficulties in everyday life during their stay due to their limited knowledge about the Australian culture, and they found the WhatsApp group helpful in avoiding difficulties by asking questions and benefiting from the knowledge and experiences of others. Some questions that were repeatedly discussed were related to different cultural festivals in Australia. For example, one woman said, ‘My son told me that the school will be on holiday because of Easter. What is Easter’? She did not have any information about it and attempted to obtain information through discussions with other Saudi women.  It was understandable that they are from a foreign land and in Saudi Arabia, the citizens are not aware of traditions of other religions. Then some one from the group explained it to her what was it and what do the Christians do during this holiday. Other questions involved the history of Australia and the aboriginal people.

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