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Researching mobility and emplacement: examining transience and transnationality in international student lives

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The mobility of international students represents an important emerging focus for human geographers interested in the dynamic intersections between education, migration and globalisation. Researching the lives of international students also poses certain methodological challenges, particularly for researchers focused on the local emplacement of students who in many cases are relatively temporary residents of the cities and towns they study in. This paper addresses these challenges through reflection on one methodological approach to examining the intersections between the transnational mobilities of South Korean international students and their situated encounters in the urban spaces of Auckland, New Zealand. The project employed a mixed qualitative approach focused on linking the mobility of student lives to their everyday involvement in Auckland through diary‐writing, map‐drawing and research on personal homepages alongside interviews, observation and a survey. The discussion pays particular attention to the integration of findings from these distinct research techniques. It also points to the importance of methodological flexibility and experimentation for researchers seeking to capture the different transnational and urban dimensions of the lives of mobile individuals like international students, and the need to tailor research approaches to the needs of specific populations – fitting research into lives.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2012

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