Based on Hofstede’s (1986) 4-D model of cultural differences, this article explores the expectations for institutional support as well as the initial perception of the educational system of a group of Mexican postgraduate students in a British university. The data presented here derive from a doctoral case study. They involve a qualitative questionnaire, focus groups, and individual interviews with ten participants enrolled for the 2016-2017 academic year. Despite participants’ ultimate goal of a degree but in accordance with the core values of a collectivist society, this study found pre-departure concerns were for the institutional provision of activities to socialize and feel connected with the host environment. Upon arrival, different extents of dealing with uncertainty had an affective impact on adaptation of participants, who longed for more structure. Based on a comparison between degrees of power distance, individualism and uncertainty avoidance features, participants’ accounts – in accordance with Paulo Freire’s liberating pedagogy – showed satisfaction for the student-centered approach rendered.
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