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Cross Cultural Adaptation among International Students in P.R.C. Institutions of Higher Education

Author: ZhuGuoHui
Tutor: XieAnBang;XuMeiDe
School: East China Normal University
Course: Higher Education
Keywords: international students in China cross cultural adaptation psychological adaptation sociocultural adaptation academic adaptation
CLC: G648.9
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 840
Quote: 2
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Abstract


Culture, created and fostered by the humankind, exerts influence on the individual’s psychology and behavior in different societies and differentiates the humankind from other creatures. The transition from the culture of origin to the host culture represents a separation from the patterns and norms associated with the culture of origin which results in the psychological anxiety and improper behavior. The patterns of culture can be internalized and developed by the creative humankind. Thus, the transition between the home and host culture appears, the process in which and the result from which the individual adjusts their psychology and acquires the patterns of the host culture constitute cross cultural adaptation. As the popular cross cultural sojourners, when traveling to the host country, international students experience the same process of cross cultural adaptation as other cross cultural sojourners. However, the dual roles as "foreigners" and "students" bring different features to the process of cross cultural adaptation experienced by the international students. The different features are:first, their unique status is temporary sojourning and returning to their culture of origin is anticipated. Second, they experience special problems including the identity conflict related to the transition from the late adolescence to the early adulthood, and academic stressors associated with the transition from elementary education system to the higher education system. Based on these particularities, this study proposes that for the international students, there are three core components of their experience of cross cultural adaptation:psychological adaptation, sociocultural adaptation and academic adaptation. These three core components represent the dynamic process and the result happening in intrapersonal psychological adjustment, mutual adjustment between the sojourning international students and the host society, the sojourning international students and the host university respectively.International student education in China can be traced back to the establishment of PRC. Over sixty years, the characteristics of international student education in China can be summarized as the following:first, the policy is more open than ever before. Second, compared with the isolated mode in the past, the international student affair in China at present tends to be integrated with the Chinese local student affair system gradually. Third, the distribution of the international student’s countries of origin has become diverse rather than simple as before. With the rapid increase of the scale of international students in China, problems arising from cross cultural adaptation are noticeable nowadays. The Zung Self-rating Depression Scale, the Sociocultural Adjustment Scale (the author-devised) and the Academic Adjustment Scale (the author-devised) have been used in the research on psychological adaptation, sociocultural adaptation and academic adaptation. Two hundred and sixty two international students from five Chinese universities participated in the research. Correlational analysis, analysis of variance, and factor analysis were employed to examine the result of cross cultural adaptation among international students in China. The results of the survey are:First, the results of correlational analysis revealed that the three core components of international student’s cross cultural adaptation were not only connected with each other but also independent from each other. The three core components of international student cross cultural adaptation model have been validated empirically.Second, the scores of the self-rating depression have shown that international students in China were mildly depressed in general, implying that measures should be taken to prevent psychological problems. The analysis of variance indicated that age, the country of origin, the length of study, acquaintance with China and acquaintance with the Chinese universities contributed significantly to psychological adaptation. The family members and relatives were the most important social support network in solving psychological adaptation problems. However, social support from the Chinese universities which consists of Chinese teachers and the staff at the International Student Office was insignificant in helping international student alleviate psychological problems.Third, the scores of sociocultural difficulties have shown that international students in China experienced moderately sociocultural difficulties in general. The analysis of variance suggested that gender and the country of origin contributed significantly to sociocultural adaptation. Based on the correlational analysis, the sojourning motivation and sociocultural adaptation were slightly negatively correlated, meaning that higher motivation predicted fewer sociocultural difficulties. Chinese friends, family members and relatives were the most accessible social support network to overcome sociocultural difficulties. Social support from the Chinese teachers and the staff at the International Student Office was insignificant in helping international student solve sociocultural problems.Fourth, the scores of academic difficulties demonstrated that international students in China have experienced moderately academic difficulties in general. In addition, the result of academic adaptation pointed to the necessity of improvement in the library facilities and the international student service. The analysis of variance indicated that the country of origin, the student status, acquaintance with China and acquaintance with the Chinese universities contributed significantly to academic adaptation. According to the correlational analysis, the motivation and academic adaptation were slightly negatively correlated, suggesting that higher motivation predicted fewer academic difficulties. The Chinese teachers, the family members and relatives were the most significant social support network in preventing academic problems.The study concluded that facilitating the social support may reduce cross cultural adaptation problems arising among international students in China. In broad terms, the social support network may consist of the host country and the host university. In narrow terms, the social support network may include the student organizations and individual relations. The following strategies are put forward to improve the status of cross cultural adaptation among international students in China:First, improve social support provided by the host country. Specifically, the mentality of international student education should be renewed by the transition from considering international student education as part of foreign affaires to regarding it as part of higher education. The relevant policies and laws should be renewed and the recruitment and information service should be diversified. Second, the university support may be strengthened by establishing cross cultural counseling and Chinese language and culture support system at the international student office. More attention need be paid to the service quality of international student affair staff. Third, building up the mutli-cultural student organizations and the nations of international students are the effective measures to facilitate the student organization support.

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