Chinese International Students’ Perceptions of Their Intercultural Adaptability
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The number of students studying in a country other than their own has dramatically increased in recent years. In 2010, over 3.7 million students studied abroad; in 2014, the number had grown to over 4.5 million students. Asian countries are the predominant places of origin. When students live and study in a new country, in addition to studying, they must adjust to a culture different than their own. This adjustment is described as intercultural adaptability, conceptualized in terms of efforts to improve satisfaction without stress and enhance well-being of immigrants and sojourners. Chinese international students suffer greater stress and anxiety than other international students due to cultural differences between China and the United States (U.S.). The purpose of this study was to examine Chinese international graduate students’ perceptions of their personal intercultural adaptability, as well as effective strategies they have chosen to enhance their intercultural adjustment. This phenomenological study was designed to examine 15 Chinese international graduate students’ perceptions about their intercultural adaptability through in-depth interviews about their academic and daily lives. Four themes were found in the data: (1) I’m on an Exciting Adventure; (2) Ooops, I Guess I Need to Adjust to the U.S. Environment; (3) I’m Going to Succeed, No Matter What; and (4) Fate. Findings indicated that students encountered stark differences in their perceptions of life in the U.S. compared to China in both their academic life and daily living. The academic challenges they encountered concerned independent learning. They also faced intercultural adaptation to U.S. daily living, such as shopping difficulties and no transportation. The concepts of fate and friendship had significant impacts on scrambling to cope with their new U.S. academic, social, and daily lives.