Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Japanese Exchange Students' Academic and Social Struggles at an American University

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Japanese Exchange Students' Academic and Social Struggles at an American University

Article excerpt

International students are an increasingly vibrant source of diversity on college and university campuses in the United States (US). They add new perspectives to academic lectures and can enhance student and faculty appreciation for other countries and cultures (Bevis, 2002; Harrison, 2002). In the 2013-14 academic year, there were 886,052 international students enrolled in American colleges and universities (Open Doors 2014 Report, 2014). Students from the top three places of origin (India, China, and South Korea) comprised approximately 50% of all international students enrolled in American colleges and universities (Institute for International Education [IIE] Network, 2014). According to the IIE Network (2014), globalization has changed the way the world works as such employers and companies increasingly seek potential graduates who have international skills and expertise. Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.

The experience of international students within a new culture has important psychological implications due to its effects on performance and functioning (Robie & Ryan, 1996). Consistently, research has shown that international students are likely to face various cross-cultural adjustment problems such as adapting to new roles, academic difficulties, language challenges, financial problems, homesickness, deficient study skills, and lack of assertiveness (Barratt & Huba, 1994). Though not isolated to this population, Asian students studying abroad in the US often experience such issues and difficulties.

Studies show that some international students at American colleges and universities experience academic and language difficulties exacerbated by cultural differences between their native countries and the dominant culture. Over the years, studies have revealed that many international students are often disappointed with their language progress while abroad (Bradley & Bradley, 1984; Bretag, Horrocks & Smith, 2002; Hellsten & Prescott, 2004). Often, such students are not comfortable with their reading speed or comprehension. They also identify that difficulty in understanding spoken languages - even after they have spent a semester or year studying abroad. Zhang and Mi (2010) analyzed the length of study and academic disciplines of Chinese international students who attended Australian universities. Unlike previous studies, these authors found that reading was not a problem area for these students. However, students did struggle to exhibit competency in writing and oral presentations in their academic disciplines.

In the past decade, there has been an emergence of studies that explored Asian students' social adjustment and assimilation at predominantly White universities (Samuel, 2004; Sato & Hodge, 2009; Spurling, 2006). Consistently, research showed that Asian students often felt marginalized, alienated, isolated, and discriminated against due to racism. For instance, Sato and Hodge (2009) studied the experiences of six Asian international doctoral students (Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese) at two major universities in the US. They found that the students faced academic challenges associated with linguistic and cultural differences, along with stressors such as demands on their time and living marginally in society. The students felt that, in order to achieve academic success, they had to assimilate linguistically and culturally to the dominant language and culture of their graduate programs. They also spoke of difficulties in building social relationships with White peers in their graduate programs, which made them feel uncomfortable and hesitant to communicate with these cohorts. In contrast, the Asian students had formed positive bonds with other Asian students at their institutions, and they felt that their cultural values and religious beliefs sustained despite feeling marginalized (Sato & Hodge, 2009). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.