versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027
CASTRO SOLANO, Alejandro. Acculturation strategies and psychological and sociocultural adaptation of foreign students in Argentina. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2011, vol.28, n.1, pp. 115-130. ISSN 1668-7027.
At present the number of foreign university student is one of the largest in modern history. It has been characterized as those who reside voluntarily and temporarily abroad in order to participate in educational exchange with the intention of returning to their country once they have achieved the purpose of their trip. These kinds of student have been classified as sojourners (temporary residents) and they are people who migrate from one cultural context for a relatively long time (6 months to 5 years). In the last decade Argentina start hosting a large amount of foreign university students, attracted by the language, the favorable economic conditions and the prestige of universities in Latin America. University students have to deal with a psychological phenomenon called acculturation and it is the process of psychological and cultural change resulting from intercultural contact. Adaptation to this event can be either psychological or cultural. The psychological is related to the well-being experienced as a result of cultural contact. Cultural adaptation involves the implementation of social skills needed to function effectively within a complex cultural environment. Based on acculturation Berry´s model a study was designed to test the acculturative strategies applied by a group of foreign students who had migrated to carry on university studies in Argentina. Berry propose two separate dimensions: (1) immigrants feel their cultural identity and customs as valuable enough to keep them in the host society (maintenance) and (2) relationships with other people or groups in society are truly valuable to identified and encouraged (participation). These dimensions lead to four acculturation strategies. (a) Integration: the migrant try to maintain their cultural heritage and also maintains contact with the dominant cultural group. (b) Assimilation: the individual does not retain their native culture and attempts to maintain contact only with dominant culture members. (c) Marginalization: occurs when the migrant has no interest or ability to pursue their native culture and it is unlikely to come into contact with the host culture. (d) Separation: this occurs when the migrant is able to maintain their original culture but avoid or cannot have interaction with the dominant group. We analyzed the degree of success achieved in implementing these strategies, assessing the psychological and sociocultural adjustment, academic achievement, life satisfaction, and perceived discrimination. It also was taken into account the perspective of the members of the host culture. This study involved two samples of university students (125 students of different nationalities and 121 Argentine university students). The instruments used were: Acculturative Strategies Survey (real and ideal forms - Berry, 1997), a scale of perceived discrimination, a psychological adjustment scale, a scale of adaptation sociocultural adaptation designed ad-hoc academic, and The Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). The results indicate that the most preferred strategy is the integration and the least used was marginalization. The acculturation process is carried out taking into account aspects of both cultures. Perceptions of university students and members of the host culture are congruent. Integration is the strategy that brings better adaptive results. Migrants who opted for the integrative strategy perceived more life satisfaction and a better adjustment to academic life. By contrast, students who chose to retain only aspects relating to their cultural identity and avoid contact with the host culture (separation) are those with less sociocultural adaptation and also feel discriminated as a cultural group. Findings presented are important because the research using Berry´s model in Latin American population is scarce. There are also few investigations analyzing differential perceptions taking into account not only the point of view of the minority group (migrant population) but also the majority group (host culture).
Palabras clave : Acculturation; University students; Acculturative strategies; Psychological adjustment; Cultural adjustment.