THE INTERNATIONALIZATION TREND OF UNIVERSITIES IN GEORGIA AND SOME OBSERVATIONS ON CROSS-CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT STRESS
Contemporary society is changing, and so is the higher education system all over the world. Internationalization is one of the central issues for higher education. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, as ex-Soviet republic Georgia is facing new challenges of the higher education system. The first attempt to respond to the internationalization of higher education was made by Georgia through establishing the International Black Sea University (IBSU) in 1995 in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, by the “Council of Ministers of Georgia aiming to improve the current educational, economic, social and cultural relationship between Georgia and Turkey. The language of instruction is English at IBSU and it hosts students from twelve countries of the world: post-Soviet republics - Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Nigeria, Malawi, United States of America etc. This is already a new trend in higher education, and directly responds to the challenges of internationalization. In 2002 the first American Studies Program in Georgia was established at the International Black Sea University as a whole department after I took part in the “American Studies Curriculum Design” program initiated by the U.S. Department of State, exploring American Studies programs in six states of the U.S. I initiated multidisciplinary program, which is simultaneously interdisciplinary. This model was new in Georgia. The program provides an opportunity for multicultural students to investigate the heritage and contemporary developments of the U.S.A. from the variety of disciplines; compare the aspects of the American culture and their own cultures.
Cross-cultural communication barriers must be overcome in the internationalized world of the 21st century. In the article we are trying to workout strategies for coping with cross-cultural adjustment stress.
The purpose of cross-cultural adaptation is not to avoid the source of stress (people in the host culture), but to increase interaction with the local people.
In researching the process of cross-cultural adjustment with Turkish students who study at the International Black Sea University, it was found that most identified evident U-curve pattern with an initial high period followed by a sharp emotional downturn. Almost all came out of the slump with an emotional upswing, as they adjusted to Georgian culture. When asked what event seemed to be most responsible for the upturn, 73% responded that they had developed friendship with a host national. Interpersonal communication with host national friends seemed to change the tide.
The disposition to judge others in terms of one’s own cultural expectations (ethnocentrism) is diminished if we have some predeparture, culture-specific knowledge. In the end, we can say, that if each of us will develop our own collection of coping strategies, we can manage culture shock. Understanding the system provides us with a sense of control and forecasting and helps us to work out some new cross-cultural skill.
Situated at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, Georgia has been “transnational” for centuries. As a tourist center, it is accustomed to hosting visitors from abroad as a multicultural society. The leading themes of IBSU American Studies program today – multiculturalism and transnationalism – thus speak directly to its circumstances