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Issue 2/2014

Okładka pierwszego numeru czasopisma Psychologia Społeczna


Multicultural buffer

Monika Biłas-Henne, Paweł Boski

The study explores processes of adaptation among European students who go abroad within the Erasmus Lifelong Programme. The main concept of the study was the so called multicultural buffer (MB) - a group/community of sojourners who shield themselves from external reality of the host culture and cope with it through mechanisms of internal support. It consists of representatives of various nationalities. The buffer diminishes stress but at the same time it inhibits acquisition of competences of the host culture. The study investigated consequences of being a part of a multicultural group for psychological (well-being) and socio-cultural adaptation to the host culture.. To this purpose we conducted a study in 31 European Union member and candidate countries (N=1891), using the online methodology on the website data brought strong evidence for existence of the multicultural buffer that inhibits contacts with the local culture. The buffer well outnumbered and surpassed intensity of contacts with local students and other hosts, in general. These results give evidence to difficulties in penetrating local cultures, even when such interaction is regarded as highly desirable (what was found in the third study in the pre-departure survey) and facilitated by official policies of EU. Being part of a buffer has also positive consequences for its members, it reinforce the transnationalisasion of international students. Being a part of multicultural group gives an opportunity to acquire transnational identity, practice multicultural skills and acquire competence in foreign languages.

Keywords: multicultural buffer, acculturation, adaptation, international students

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