The re-negotiation of cultural identity of French academic sojourners during cross-cultural transition in Australia

Date of this Version

December 2005

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Details

Patron, Marie-Claire (2005) The re-negotiation of cultural identity of French academic sojourners during cross-cultural transition in Australia. In B. Bartlett, F. Bryer & R. Roebuck (Eds.), Stimulating the action as participants in participatory research. Nathan, Qld: School of Cognition, Language, and Special Education, Griffith University and individual contributors.

This paper was presented to the 3rd Annual International Conference on Cognition, Language, and Special Education Research held at the Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, Australia, 2-4 December 2005.


This paper focuses on research on French academic sojourners in Australia, investigating the recent phenomenon of their cross-cultural exchanges in this country. Findings suggest that mitigating effects of acceptance and tolerance fostered good intercultural relations between all respondents and the host society which resulted in a successful acculturation experience. Paradoxically, this newly formed understanding and friendship between cultures exacerbated the re-entry identity conflicts for the French students as they no longer wished to leave Australia. These problems surfaced upon re-entry because of the inability to reconcile the new intercultural identity with rigid or "tight" social norms in France. Sojourners embraced the notion of a third place in Australia, negotiating a comfortable situation during intercultural interactions without compromising their cultural identity. Extrapolating from this, I conceptualised a new term, a "parallel dimension" during the repatriation stage. Unable to transpose their remodelled identity from the Australian context to the French, the returnees felt the need to establish a special place that constituted a coping mechanism for the difficult transitional process, a term born out of the incommunicability of the sojourn experience to those back home. This in turn became the catalyst for a "transitory phenomenon", the implications of which cannot be ignored during programming of intercultural exchanges.

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