Characteristics of the study participants
A total of 26 participants were interviewed for the study. Ten students were in the third year, and 16 students were in the fourth year. Twelve students are female, and 14 students are male. Most of the students were from India (22/26), while the rest were from a variety of countries including Indonesia (1/26) and Bangladeshi (3/26).
Difficulties of the social networks building
Regarding the difficulties of social networks building among the MBBS students, five themes were identified.
Theme 1: “language barriers”
The most frequently mentioned difficulty regarding social networks building is language barrier. MBBS students generally mentioned that local Chinese people are friendly and they also want to build social connections with the local Chinese people, however, they felt it is difficult because the existence of the language barrier.
I think language differences are the main difficulty. For example, Chinese people are so friendly with us, they also want to make friends with us. But we can’t talk to them properly due to the language differences between us.
We are foreign students and we can not speak Chinese like the locals. It takes more time (for us) to understand this language. For this reason, we are unable to talk in Chinese language with the local Chinese.
The only difficulty I experienced here is the language barrier, despite Chinese people are so friendly and they help you a lot.
Theme 2: “Lack of communication skills”
Another aspect emerged among MBBS students was that they may face difficulties during building social connections due to the lack of communication skills. They concerned that they do not have sufficient communication skills to build social networks.
For me, the difficult I face to establish social network is a lack of communication skills.
Communication skills are one of difficulties in establishing a strong social network.
Theme 3: “Personality aspects”
Some of the MBBS students concerned that their personalities such as shyness and introversion hamper their social networks building, and “good characters” are needed to establish social networks. Students mentioned that studying medicine is a good way to “confront these personalities”, because doctors are required to communicate well with patients.
The most difficult thing is my shyness, I usually feel fear of publics, but I am trying to overcome that. I think during establishing social networks we need good characters and ideas.
The difficulties are that I usually feel awkward and anxious to talk with strangers……. I am introverted, and moreover (I am) fear of rejection.
Theme 4: “Experiencing intercultural differences”
Concerning difficulties to build social networks, some MBBS students stated that they may face difficulties due to intercultural differences. Students stated that the culture differences between the host country (China) and their country of origin, such as different food and different habits, hinder the social networks building.
We have different language and different food (with local people); thus it is difficult to build social networks with local people.
Besides Chinese language difficulties, the differences in culture are also difficulties in making social networks.
Theme 5: “Study pressure”
In addition to the difficulties reported before, MBBS students also discussed that as medial students they “need a lot of time to study”. Therefore, they stated that they are afraid “being more social may affect the medical studies”.
As a medical student, we need a lot of time to study. so, now being more social may affect our studies. Apart from that I don’t feel any difficulties to establish the social networks.