Wing of an airplane flying through a blue sky

Home From Away

November - February 2018

A photo voice study of how international graduate students at the University of Saskatchewan adjust to a new research and cultural context.

Location: Library Link, Murray Library

Curators: Vicky Duncan and Samuel Schultz, assisted by Amy Putnam and Stevie Horn

Over 1,500 international graduate students study at the University of Saskatchewan and the library is central to their experience. As a librarian assisting many international graduate students, I noted that the students arrive at U of S with a wide range of information literacy skills and have to get up to speed quickly. I was curious to find out just how the students achieved this: familiarizing themselves with a new academic library and its services, as well as a new research and cultural environment. With assistance from Linda Ferguson, College of Nursing, I designed a study intended to find out how students acclimatize themselves to a new research environment.

Our photovoice study asked eight students to take photographs and share their stories about how they became acclimatized to a new research culture. This exhibit presents the results of that study, including students’ advice for incoming international students and their reflections on participating in a photovoice project. By sharing their experiences, through pictures and text, we hope to identify “strategies that support the well-being and success of these students” (University of Saskatchewan, International Blueprint for Action 2025).

Photos taken by the students and their accompanying stories generally fell into two camps: 1) adjusting to a new cultural environment, and 2) adjusting to a new research environment. One student summarized it this way: “International students, come to university, come to a new environment, they have to take care of two different kinds of important things. One of them is life; another one is academic part. The problem is that, students, international students, must focus on their life first and then they will have time to focus on their academic part. And it takes time…”

The exhibit showcases photographs and stories of eight international students as they face the challenges of attaining a graduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan. The students provide tips and advice for new international graduate students, and food for thought for the university faculty, staff and fellow students who interact with them.


 A white rabbit sitting in a white snowbank

“No, it’s a rabbit. And, this picture really reminds me of what I’m doing. I’m trying to find a white rabbit in a snow. And, there is no clear evidence of how this creature happened to be at this exact point. No traces of his feet or anything… I’m trying to find this rabbit in my research. I actually know what I’m looking for, but I don’t know how to get there.”    -Participant






 Yellow leaves on trees along a street."Looking at this picture is like taking my journey into doing this research… And, I would say not from just my experience but persons who I’ve spoken to, it’s really a journey. Because you’ll start – sometimes they stop, things happen along the way. And then you have to just pick up and move on. You then have to make a choice, do I wish to continue? Do I stop here? It’s really a journey doing research."    - Participant

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