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