“You went to Europe and returned different”: Transformative learning experiences of international students in Portugal

Cosmin Nada, Catherine Montgomery, Helena C. Araujo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the increase of research on international students, the complexity of their learning experiences is yet to be fully understood. This study seeks to provide an expanded vision of their learning by considering students’ experiences beyond formal educational spaces, focusing especially on their out-of-classroom experiences. To achieve this, the narratives of 12 international students in Portugal were analysed in light of the theory of transformative learning. The results indicate that all students experienced particular forms of learning as an outcome of their international experience and were engaged in transformative learning processes. Moreover, the theory of transformative learning proved to be an appropriate analytical tool for understanding the learning narratives of international higher education students. Through the analysis of the transformative effects of engaging with a foreign cultural context, this paper makes a contribution to the ongoing debate on transformative learning and the experience of international students in the European context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)696-713
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Issue number5
Early online date27 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • Experience
  • Portugal
  • international students
  • narrative
  • transformative learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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