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Intercultural Competence and (Im)politeness During the Intercultural Adjustment Period of Indonesian Students in the UK.

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posted on 2023-08-30, 20:11 authored by Erizal Lugman
We now live in a globalised world where people can travel between countries more conveniently for various reasons, including furthering their education and gaining new experiences. The UK is now second in the global league table of international students, with these students contributing £25.8 billion to the UK economy each year (Universities UK, 2017; cited in Lomer and Mittelmeier, 2021). Indonesian students are one such group of international students that have chosen to further their education in the United Kingdom, one of the most popular locations for those seeking to further their education overseas. International students must engage with people from various cultural backgrounds while studying in the host country. On the one hand, this engagement provides the student with the opportunity to gain new experiences while living in a multicultural country like the United Kingdom. On the other hand, intercultural encounters cannot be avoided and may have a negative impact on a student’s academic achievement as a result of cultural differences. A multicultural society presents students with both opportunities and difficulties, so students need to prepare for, and gain, the necessary competence to deal with the environment in which they are living by appreciating and benefiting from cultural differences. To achieve their academic goals whilst studying abroad, international students must successfully adjust to cross-cultural differences. As a result, they need to develop new abilities, including intercultural competence, to effectively communicate with people from different cultures. Evidently, one significant aspect of this intercultural competence is the awareness, understanding and application of (im)politeness norms, which is vital for effective intercultural interactions. This study seeks to examine Indonesian students at UK universities to determine the way in which they integrate different aspects of intercultural competence and (im)politeness. Solidly grounded in an ethnographic framework involving twelve student blogs and seven student interviews and observations, this study sheds light on why intercultural competence is required, how it is developed and how international students manage intercultural encounters involving (im)politeness during the intercultural adjustment period. This study reveals that the intercultural competencies required by Indonesian students in the United Kingdom can be classified into two categories, namely, attitudes and skills. Necessary attitudes include an active attitude, innovative thinking and the acceptance of cultural differences, while necessary skills encompass the skills required to learn new information about a different culture and the skills required to observe the host society’s norms. This study has also established how intercultural competence can be utilised to manage intercultural encounters that involve the assessment of (im)politeness, including acquiring new information about over-politeness, learning more about the beliefs of other cultures in terms of (im)politeness and re-evaluating the moral order. By challenging some of the most widely held assumptions about intercultural competence and impoliteness, this study greatly advances our understanding of both these concepts and their importance in creating harmonious intercultural interactions.



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