What is it like being a foreign student? Do they do as well as natives? How well do they cope with the culture of the country in which they are studying? Is there much evidence of psychological distress among foreign students the world over? Foreign and exchange students have been the topic of academic research for a long time (Bock 1970; Brislin 1979; Byrnes 1966; Tornbiorn 1982; Zwingmann and Gunn 1963). Over thirty years ago in a book delightfully entitled Colonial Students, Carey (1956) looked at how different groups of students adapted to life in Britain. Consistent themes running through this book were the excessively optimistic, followed by the chronically disillusioned expectations of the students. Another theme was the importance of the British beliefs about and attitudes to the students. Carey wrote:
Both favourable and unfavourable stereotypes exist in relation to Asians and Africans: thus Asians are ‘highly civilised’, ‘very brainy’, philosophers who often perform truly astounding feats of memory; but they are also ‘treacherous’, cunning and cruel; ‘you can’t trust any of them’. Africans, on the other hand, are either ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’, with enormous sexual powers, or alternatively kind, loyal darkies, childlike and grateful for any kindness bestowed on them. But it is significant that of the stereotypes about Asians, some at least are unqualifiedly favourable; while those about Africans are favourable only in a highly patronising way, and hence unacceptable to African students.