Exploring the experiences of Arab students at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia
Although there exists extensive literature on the experiences of international students studying at post-secondary institutions in North America; there is scant literature on the unique challenges experienced by Arab students who are studying in Canadian universities and colleges. This study explored challenges faced by Arab international students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Data was collected using interviews from 6 international Arab students studying at VIU and analyzed into themes using narrative analysis. Accordingly, the audio recordings from the interview was transcribed verbatim by the researcher and transcripts shared with participants which ensure precision and accuracy of data. Results revealed that international Arab students studying at VIU face several challenges: cultural and religious adjustment and differences, personal experiences related to isolation, homesickness and isolation, stereotypes and prejudice, and academic challenges. These students employed several strategies to overcome the identified challenges: hired tutors, sought support from tutors and professors, put in time and effort, utilized social support from their friends, sought help via religion, and utilized campus resources. This result confirmed that international Arab students studying at VIU have unique requirements and therefore, represent a unique group of students due to their Arabic culture and the nature of their religion. This uniqueness makes them to experience unique challenges identified in this study. It is, therefore, important for the university to come up with specific strategies and programs to assist these students in adjusting and accepting the Canadian culture and society.