International Students and Cosmopolitanisms: Educational Mobility in a Global Age

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International students in Europe are usually depicted as highly skilled, young, cosmopolitan and easier to integrate into host societies, which makes them perfect migrants to join the ageing Western populations. However, research on cosmopolitanism is frequently characterised by a high level of abstraction, without distinguishing the meaning of theoretical formulations in specific empirical settings. After presenting a brief review of the main literature on cosmopolitanism, the chapter describes the empirical results of the qualitative study on which it is based to focus on how international doctoral students in Germany develop cosmopolitan identifications during their study abroad. First, the chapter outlines how these students value and enjoy the ‘difference’, which is one of the major principles of cosmopolitanism. The interviewees frequently cited difference as being an important aspect of their lives in a culture other than that of their native country. Second, the chapter highlights the fact that these students meld a mix of various perspectives with their own views, which allows them to navigate within various cultures, a phenomenon which is explained as multifocality. Third, the chapter points to flexibility as a major competence of international PhD students and a strategy for their cosmopolitan belonging. The prospects for employment opportunities are perceived as more significant than the location of the job. Their exposure to the global market and the fluid environment require and produce this sort of flexibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn Anthology of Migration and Social Transformation
Subtitle of host publicationEuropean Perspectives
EditorsAnna Amelina, Keith Hovarth, Bruno Meeus
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-23666-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-23665-0
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAn Anthology of Migration and Social Transformation
PublisherSpringer Verlag

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