The process of a student adapting to new surroundings is referred to as adaptation, acculturation, adjustment or accommodation interchangeably by different scholars. Because the others have a variety of other meanings in various contexts, I will use the term acculturation. This idea is an interesting one in an international school like TES, as all students from all backgrounds have a degree of acculturation to undertake upon arrival and throughout their time at the school.
The majority of the student body in the high school has been at TES since primary school, though there is around a 10% change in each year group every academic year, with students who leave at the end of the academic year being replaced by new students who had been on the waiting list, or who arrived in Taiwan in the summer between academic years. This year, a small number of Taiwanese students were enrolled, as well as a group of Danish students, the children of wind farm engineers who have been employed by the Taiwanese government to develop Taiwan’s renewable energy provision and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels.
These Danish students had, and continue to have, a significant culture shock upon arriving at TES. The culture of the school is very different to what they are used to in Denmark, and I would be fascinated to investigate these differences, and what could be done to ease the acculturation of students from varied backgrounds arriving at the school.
While they make up a very small part of the student community, they are a notable group due to the short amount of time they have been in Taiwan, the difficulties they have faced in adapting to their new surroundings, and their willingness to speak openly about the differences between TES and their old schools. Conducting informal interviews with one or two of them would be an interesting test balloon into the issue of acculturation in an international school setting.