Resilience of Exchange Students in the Study Abroad Program in Japan Under the COVID-19 Pandemic

Conference: The Asian Conference on Education (ACE2021)
Title: Resilience of Exchange Students in the Study Abroad Program in Japan Under the COVID-19 Pandemic
Stream: International Education
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Naomi Tsunematsu, Hiroshima University, Japan


This research presents the resilience of multicultural exchange students from North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia who faced the unexpected challenges under the Covid-19 pandemic in Japan. These students who participated in the Hiroshima University Study Abroad Program (HUSA)* with interest in Japanese culture and language experienced various upheavals when they were required to discontinue study abroad or make a decision on their continuation. Interviews with students revealed different situations they were located culturally, institutionally, and personally. Voices of students who discontinued study abroad disclosed how they strived to cope with the unexpected turbulence, their reverse culture shock and distress after return, and how they recovered from setback and adversity to rebuild their lives. Students who decided to stay in Japan emphasized the value they placed on remaining in Japan without being agitated with the possible communication barriers in emergent medical and social situations. They also cooperatively worked on the group project to develop international students’ self-support system by sharing their multicultural resources with guidance. Students’ resilience, strength, and intercultural power give us insight for positive changes and rebuilding our lives in a crisis situation glocally. *Hiroshima University has concluded exchange agreements with 95 universities in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia in 31 countries and two consortiums (the University Studies Abroad Consortium [USAC] and the University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific [UMAP]) (as of January 2021). Approximately 40~60 students attend the HUSA program annually, and they study at Hiroshima University for one semester or one academic year.

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