Bitter side of Saudis re-entry after studying abroad

Mr Naif Daifullah Z Alsulami1

1Umm Al-qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

This paper is part of a doctoral study seeking to gain an in-depth understanding of how returning Saudi international students experience their re-entry to Saudi Arabia and why they have such experiences. The participants of this qualitative study were 13 male and eight female Saudis who spent about one to six years living in English speaking countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, undertaking postgraduate studies. Preliminary findings from the interviews with the participants showed that returning Saudi students experienced several challenges such as reverse culture shock, conflicting values and third culture kids as result of the changes happened to their cultural identity. The findings also showed some themes emerged that have not been found in the previous studies conducted in different contexts such as challenges with driving cars for Saudi female, challenges with cultural norms, loss of freedom for females, bureaucracy, educational challenges and Wasta. In fact, Wasta refers to using one’s connections and/or influence to get things done, including in government transactions such as for a quick renewal of a passport, waiving of traffic fines, and being hire for or promoted in a job,. Moreover, the findings showed that the participants have changed but the society did not appreciate this change and looked at them suspiciously. The participants adopted some coping strategies such as reducing the high expectation, contacting with family while studying abroad, sharing their experiences with other returning friends and working within the available spaces.


Niaf Daifullah Z Alsulami has a Master of Education specialising in international education from Monash University in 2014. He has started his PhD candidature from 2014 at Monash. Between 2010 -2012 he worked at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca as a teaching assistant and researcher. Naif is an experienced teacher and researcher. He has experience as a qualitative researcher.


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