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Beginning university study can initiate feelings of fear and self-doubt as students acculturate to a new and somewhat alien environment. For those individuals who have no friends or family members to provide guidance as they adapt to this university culture, such feelings can only be exacerbated. The lack of research that examines the processes of transition, persistence and engagement from the perspective of those involved has been noted in the literature. Hence, this study set out to outline how one group of female students, all of whom are the first in the family to attend university, subjectively experience this first year of study. Forty-two students from Universidad Católica de Santa María (Arequipa, Perú), were recruited to participate in a series of four semi-structured interviews conducted throughout one academic year. These interviews investigated the processes involved in transition as well as the types of fears and perceptions held about engaging in tertiary study and the hurdles encountered during the year. These richly detailed narratives define the meanings individuals attach to the university setting, and also provide insight into the personal motivation and persistence required when engaging in this environment. Research that seeks to give voice to actual student experience assists understanding about the higher education sector. The Interpretivist approach assisted in producing a study that questions traditional notions concerning what it means to be a first year student and indicates how this reality is both constructed and negotiated. This framework has been further informed by both grounded theory and narrative analysis in order to highlight how individuals move through an environment characterised by flux and transformation. The result is a study that recognises the diverse and heterogeneous nature

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Aleixandre Brian Duche Pérez 102
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Fanny Paredes Quispe (Peru) 11348
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Christian Cervantes Bautista (Peru) 11406
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