Social and academic adaptation styles of female students who immigrated alone from the former Soviet Union to Israel

Rivka A. Eisikovits, Hava Schechter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Migration from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) included a unique group of young women who immigrated alone to Israel in search of opportunities for higher education. Individual migration is a rare phenomenon in the Jewish-Russian family context, which is characterized by close family ties among members. The content analysis of in-depth interviews with a group of female immigrant undergraduates revealed two profiles based on their mode of migration: Independent Decision Makers (Profile A) who were determined to integrate rapidly into Israeli society, with far-reaching concessions in respect of their original culture and of friends from their country of migration; Family Emissaries (Profile B) who wished to preserve their original culture and friends. Their pace of familiarization with Israeli customs was slow and did not constitute a major focus of interest. Profile A respondents used their time at the university for self reflection, celebrating their newly gained insights into their personhood and their independence. Migration "through" the university came to symbolize individuation from their enmeshed family. Profile B informants concentrated on career development at the expense of preoccupation with social adjustment. This group of informants, though more passive observers than active participants in the social aspects of campus life, were also exposed to a new model of university, which served them as a precursor to the diversity of choices awaiting outside the university. The university experience, though more inclusive for Profile A and more limited for Profile B, was positive according to all informants. Regardless of differences in reasons for migration, family attitudes or personality, the desire for quality higher education was the most powerful driving force behind the migration of these single young women from the FSU and its fulfilment helped them cope in the receiving society. Although a neglected area of research, and contrary to the tradition of strong family cohesion, the migration of independent young women from the FSU to Western countries, in search of opportunities for quality higher education, is gaining salience. The lessons learned from the idiosyncratic experiences of participants in this phenomenological study provide valuable insights into issues arising in the course of the intercultural transition of this understudied migrant population and suggest directions for further research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-120
    Number of pages24
    JournalInternational Migration
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Demography


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