Stress among students studying in countries that are not their own is one of the major distressing factors caused by issues related to culture. Of greatest importance in this study are Saudi Arabia students studying in Australia who face immense stress caused by culture-related factors. It is from this consideration that this study provides an intrinsic evaluation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory (Harris, Gavel &Young 2005, p. 408) in comparison to McClelland theory of needs (Rong et al. 2009, p. 641) to determine how issues of culture undermine the efforts of Saudi Arabian students to meet their learning needs.
Both theories have been vastly criticized in light of their application in creating the relationship between culture and stress. However, as the majority of philosophers and economists argue, students’ needs are hierarchical in nature. It is without a doubt that when those needs are not met, stress develops since they lose creativity, confidence, and respect from others. From a student’s point of view, the paper employs examples to generate a succinct exploration of their similarities and differences as well as the gap found in them.
Theoretical presentation of the factors of stress
In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory (Harris, Gavel, & Young 2005, p. 298) and McClelland’s theory (El-Gilany, Amr & Hammad 2008, p. 447) in this study, students’ needs and how stress can affect them ability. Students’ lowest level needs are associated with psychological demands which Maslow explains in his hierarchy of needs theory. If a lower-level need is not met, an individual (student) will have to temporarily develop stress.
On the other hand, McClelland’s theory of needs ((El-Gilany, Amr & Hammad 2008, p. 446) points out that the need for affiliation among students is driven by the desire to fit within the wider society where one is easily accepted and therefore viewed as an important member of the community. Some of the causes of stress among Saudi students include:
Cultural barriers that impact Saudi students need to be effectively resolved since they lead to the immense development of stress (Harris, Gavel, & Young 2005, p. 296). For instance Pilotto, Duncan, and Anderson-Wurf (2007, 225) mention in their article “Issues for clinicians training international medical graduates: a systematic review” that certain factors such as language barriers do affect communication and proficiency required for their profession.
Using McClelland’s theory (Harris, Gavel, & Young 2005, p. 299), it is imperative to note that Saudi students in Australia would seek to be accepted by other students through attaching the necessary importance to the relationships and committing to them. With communication issues, immense stress will develop as they will not be able to invest a high level of trust as well as effective mutual understanding that promotes better teamwork, reduce competition and further encourage collective responsibility.
The article “Barriers to student access to patients in a group of teaching hospitals” by Abrahamson brings out the influence of culture and access of patients by students when learning (2006, p. 406). The author indicates that one source of stress to a Saudi student in Australia is that individuals in hospital especially patients or other students may prefer to interact or be accessed by others of the same culture. Thus, this discrimination may result in stress for students of a different cultural background. Harris, Gavel, and Young (2005, p. 407) point out that affiliation, as employed in McClelland’s theory (Abrahamson 2006, p.406), depicts the need for Saudi students to get an effective association with others either at the community or college level or in teaching hospitals.
One of the most common complaints that have been found among international students in Australia as Broom (2008, p. 27) reveal in the article “Gender in/and/of health inequalities” has been culture. Foreign students from Saudi Arabia need to cope with cultural issues such as emotion and gender which in most cases cause them to develop avoidance-oriented stress as well as task-oriented stress which develops into fatigue. This argument by Broom is echoed by Rong et al. (2009, p. 636) who posit that culture is a major problem to Saudi Arabian students in Australia as it keeps them from fulfilling their learning and relationship needs leading to stress and a pattern of depressive disorders.
Adapting to a strange learning environment
Cottingham et al. (2008, p. 715) indicate in their article “Enhancing the informal curriculum of a medical school: a case study in organizational culture change” that cultural change among international students may be a major cause of stress that is generated from a new learning environment and the massive amount of tasks that students have according to the school culture may also be a stress-related factor. The mentioned factors negatively affect the learning and cognitive functioning of these foreign students (El-Gilany, Amr & Hammad 2008, p. 442).
Gap in knowledge
Although there are myriad stress-related factors that hinder Saudi Arabian students from performing well in their academics while in Australia, it is profound to note that there is a gross gap in knowledge and understanding of these stress factors. There are limited empirical research studies that have been carried out to this effect. This serious gap in knowledge also affected this project due to inadequate research surveys and theoretical background on the subject.
Abrahamson, SJ 2006, ‘Barriers to student access to patients in a group of teaching hospitals, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 185, no. 7, pp. 406-407.
Broom, D 2008, ‘Gender in/and/of health inequalities’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 11-28.
Cottingham, AH, Suchman, AL, Litzelman, DK, Frankel, RM, Mossbarger, DL Williamson, PR, Baldwin, DC & Inui, TS 2008, ‘Enhancing the informal curriculum of a medical school: a case study in organizational culture change’, Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 715-722.
El-Gilany, A, Amr, M & Hammad, S 2008, ‘Perceived stress among male medical students in Egypt and Saudi Arabia: effect of sociodemographic -factors’, Annals of Saudi Medicine, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 442-448.
Harris, MG, Gavel, PH & Young, JR 2005, ‘Factors influencing the choice of the specialty of Australian medical graduates’, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 183, no. 6, pp. 295-300.
Peppard, J 2008, ‘Culture wars in South Australia: the sex education debates’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 499-516.
Pilotto, LS, Duncan, GF & Anderson-Wurf, J 2007, ‘Issues for clinicians training international medical graduates: a systematic review’, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 187, no. 4, pp. 225-228.
Rong, Y, Luscombe, GM, Davenport, TA, Huang, Y, Glozier, N & Hickie, IB 2009, ‘Recognition and treatment of depression, social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, vol. 44, no. 8, pp. 636-642.