“You’re Not Alone”: International Students’ Shared Experiences in Academic, Social, and Psychological Adjustment

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: “You’re Not Alone”: International Students’ Shared Experiences in Academic, Social, and Psychological Adjustment
Stream: International Education
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Elok D. Malay, University of Groningen, Netherlands
Sabine Otten, University of Groningen, Netherlands
Robert Coelen, University of Groningen, Netherlands


Living in a different country to pursue their higher education, international students would unavoidably face cultural differences that require them to adjust. The adjustment involves sociocultural, psychological, and academic aspects. Research has consistently shown that better adjustment could lead to higher satisfaction, better well-being, and academic success. However, contradictions exist on whether international students' adjustment is affected by their gender, age, level of study, duration of stay in the host country, and experience of living abroad. This study aimed to re-investigate the relationship between those factors with international students' adjustment. An online survey was conducted on 322 Indonesian students studying abroad (UK, USA, Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and more). The statistical analysis results showed that students' adjustment, whether in general or in each aspect, did not differ among different groups of international students. There were no significant differences in adjustment between male and female; bachelor's, master's, or doctoral students; students who had stayed for shorter or longer periods; and students who had and did not have experience living abroad. Age also did not correlate with students' adjustment. These results indicated that international students' adjustment process and potential problems are a shared experience between different groups of international students. This article will then discuss how these results might challenge some common assumptions about international students' adjustment, such as the U curve of adjustment. They could also affect the practice of international students' support by higher education.

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