The students come from different cultural religiousand technological backgrounds amongst other things. This normally leads to thestudents adjusting in different ways and they differ individually.
Below arethe different cultural shocks that can alter the life of the students at Leuvenmaking it bearable or unbearable.1.1.1 Cultural ShocksCulturehas visible effects on students at KU Leuven since some of the students comefrom different cultural backgrounds. Culture is the entire way of life of agroup of people including their language, food, social organization, education,and childrearing practices (Cocodia, 2014). Culture shock involves more thanadjustment to different types of houses and food (Jenkins, 2007). He goes on toarticulate how the whole pattern of organization of the new place may betotally different from one’s home culture. Differences may be small, at first,but many.
One may experience many small irritations, sometimes unidentifiable,and these build up. Finally the irritations and disorientation build up to abreaking point. Ogbu (1994) categorises culture into four main concepts but ofone that is of relevance to this study is the fourth whereby culture isdescribed as a cultural “institution” which includes religion, politics, andother social organizations. Culture will therefore determine the very nature ofintelligence, as it is representative of every facet of an individual’s life.Sternberg and Detterman (1986) support the above assertion citing how culturemay also determine who has what level of intelligence through a process ofclassification. For this reason, there may be certain concepts that may beappropriate or more valued in one culture and unsuitable in another.1.1.
2 Religion Religionis a principal source of social identification in a pre-industrial society(Aldashev and Platteau, 2014). They further assert the need to understand theeffects of religious identification and of its intensity on the behavior ofindividuals, as well as what forces shape the religious identification and itsintensity. Guiso et al. (2003)address two major questions which are of relevance to this study.
(i) Are theeffects of religiosity on behavior consistent across different religions? (ii)To what extent do these effects change with the intensity of religious beliefsthat individuals hold? The authors go on to analyze the effect of thereligiosity of an individual (whether one declares belonging to some religiousdenomination or not), the intensity of one’s religious beliefs (as measured byreligious upbringing and by the intensity of attendance of religious services),and to which denomination one belongs, on six broad categories of attitudesrelated to economic behavior, growth, and development. In context it is thusevident that religion can affect students especially if an individual fails toadjust to Leuven city life. According toAldashev and Platteau (2014), the intensity of religiosity and religiousupbringing matters for attitudes, but in an asymmetric way. In particular,trust in others correlates with the intensity of religious participation, butnot with religious upbringing. Therefore adjusting to a setting where religionvaries will create insecurity to students especially international studentsmaking it difficult to fully concentrate during lectures, seminars field toursto mention just but a few.
1.1.3 Social IntegrationSocialintegration also poses challenges in the student life especially forinternational students whose background and culture is totally different withthat of Leuven. Oatey (2014) defines integration as the process of gettingpeople of different races to live and work together instead of separately,spending time with members of other groups and developing habits liketheirs, combining of two or more thingsso that they work together effectively and people becoming part of a group orsociety and are accepted by them. According to Berry’s acculturation model(2005), contact and participation are a key component of integration, but thatdiversity in itself does not necessarily lead to interaction.
The student population, particularly under thecultural anthropology and development studies programme is largely drawn fromcountries in Africa, Latin America and Asia and there is need for socialintegration for the program to be successful. 1.1.4 Gender In her book, Narayan indicates that as feministsagendas become global, there is growing feminist concern to consider nationaland cultural differences among women (Summer, 2000).
Thedevelopment of gender roles begins at birth. The children are exposed to manyfactors that influence their attitudes and behavior with regard to gender roles(Molla, 2016). The author goes on to say women as well as men, act and think inthe context of images that have created about what is masculine and feminine,always connected with culture. Therefore to de-role from the gendersocialization prescribed by culture and society becomes difficult as somecultures do not encourage females to participate boldly in public spaces.1.1.5 Technology Ina study of teaching in multiple cultures Pratt (1992), notes that conceptionsof teaching are, like other conceptions, anchored in cultural, social,historical, and personal realms of meaning.
To ‘teach’ means different thingsdepending upon one’s values, beliefs, and intentions. Cope and Ward (2002)noted that successful integration is more likely to occur when instructorsperceive learning technologies as part of a student-centered/conceptual changeteaching approach. Educational technology tools, which include onlinemedia-rich e-books, syllabus, cases and other course materials, chat rooms,electronic bulletin boards, CD-ROMs, laptop computers, PowerPoint slides,videos, and many other instructional technologies, are expected to increasestudent engagement, motivation and learning (Clarke, Flaherty, & Mottner,2001; McCabe & Meuter, 2011; Odhabi & NicksMcCaleb, 2011; Young, Klemz,& Murphy, 2003). Young and his colleagues (2003) suggested using groupproject-based instructional methods to improve student learning performance andpedagogical affect. It is however of paramount importance to consider thebackground of these students because what works for one student might not workfor the other.