Expectations and challenges of returning Saudi International student

Naif Daifullah Z Alsulami1

1 Umm Al-Qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia & Monash University. Melbourne, Australia

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 doctoral study aimed at knowing the impact of overseas studies programs on the lives of returning Saudis and identifying if the huge investment into education via a scholarship program (King Abdul Abdullah Scholarship Program) has brought positive impacts on the lives of returning Saudis. The literature review related to this doctoral study revealed that although many studies have focused on the adjustment issues experienced by Saudi international students in the host culture, the re-adjustment issues experienced after returning home have been under-researched. The participants of this qualitative study were 13 male and 8 female Saudis who spent about one to six years living in some English speaking countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, undertaking postgraduate studies. Preliminary findings from the interviews with the participants show that student expectations play a crucial role in the re-entry transition. None of the students had anticipated a need to re-adjust to their home culture, and friends and family had also assumed a smooth homecoming. Consequently, the returning students experienced unexpected challenges without much support from their home culture. These challenges included personal, cultural, educational, social and professional difficulties, as well as problems with their children. The gap between expectations and reality was a source of frustration for some participants, making re-adapting to their home country more difficult.


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.