Friday, April 21, 2017

Literature Review #5

Perceived Support as a Predictor of Acculturative Stress Among International Students in the United States


Bai, Jieru. “Perceived Support as a Predictor of Acculturative Stress Among International Students in the United States.” Journal of International Students, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, pp. 93–106.


This study is to measure the magnitude of acculturative stress among students, from different country of origins, and identify the causes of it. Bai had determined that perceived support from school is vital for international students; they should feel welcomed by the school community either through culturally accessible facilities or by providing moral support as they go through the process of acculturation. Bai had also identify that international students from the Middle East experience the most stress, though the reasons were not disclosed.


Jieru Bai is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha's Grace Abbott School of Social Work. She received her Doctor of Philosophy from Indiana University in 2012; her research interests include acculturation and acculturative stress; mental health of immigrants and their families; culturally competent assessment and practice; program evaluation; and advanced statistical methods/mixed methods. She mainly teaches human behavior and social environment, research methods and diversity class.

Key Terms

Acculturating Groups
  • Apparently there are five different acculturating groups, which include immigrants, refugees, native peoples, ethnic groups and sojourners, whom, at some point, undergo the acculturating process. The focus of Bai’s paper, though it was not explicitly mentioned, is presumed to be about sojourner students. 
  • In Bai’s literature review, she selected excerpts in regards to student sojourner, who temporarily resides in a country (in this case, the United States). Obviously, most international students are sojourners, as they return to their home once they complete their studies in America. This acculturating group experience higher level of acculturative stress in comparison to other groups.

“Student sojourners must confront traditional academic stresses without the resources available to domestic students.” (page 95)
"Personal concerns that prevent international students from seeking professional help, such as feelings of stigma and shame, lack of knowledge of available and existing mental health services and cost considerations." (page 96)
"International students are found to bear unrealistic expectations of academic performance and a greater fear of academic failure." (page 96)

This paper will be able to support my argument in which President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban Executive Order will possibly further exaggerate the level of acculturative stress among Middle Eastern students, whom reportedly experience higher stress than its Asian counterpart.

Research Blog #9: Argument & Counterargument

In my research paper, I argue that the factors contributing to stress among international students can be traced in the following perspectives: social, political and economical. 

Socially, I would talk about how acculturative stress is the general term to describe the social stress experience among international students. The disparity of cultures and the lack of English fluency had made the process of acculturation among international students complex and difficult. Social integration and communal acceptance is key in reducing acculturative stress. 

Next, The election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States had created a backlash among international prospective and current students. The travel ban has affected thousands of students in particular whom are currently matriculating at American universities. Besides that, his rhetorics had normalized a xenophobic culture that indirectly oppresses the international student population, which also cause many prospective students to divert their interest in furthering their studies in America. 

Lastly, from an economic perspective, the rising cost of out-of-state tuition due to the privatization of public education in America and the lack of scholastic scholarships for international students, among other things, all contributes to the stress experienced by international students studying in America. 

Unfortunately I found very, very few counterarguments in regards to any of the perspectives I laid out. Nonetheless, although a New York Times article reported that university applications from international students took a 40% dip, in the same article, a Ohio State spokesman said that "global economic factors" may contribute to the decline, instead of the executive-ordered travel ban. Despite that, I believe the counterargument was not strong enough to debunk about the chilling effect the presidential election has on international applications because articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education affirmed that international students are worried about travel restrictions. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Research Blog #8: Case

In my paper, I talk about how cultural differences or barriers do create stress among international students. For an example, it is very prevalent that Americans uphold individualistic values and other nationalities, particularly those from Eastern countries like China, possess a collectivist culture, in which Lijuan Zhai describe as “the interests of the whole group should be emphasized first before [an] individual’s personal interests; hence people are expected to sacrifice for the benefit of others” (100). The clash between these two extreme values has create a misunderstanding and hence, tension and stress between two roommates, as described in Pamela Leong’s study; when an American student baked a large number of pizzas, his Chinese roommate, whom believed the pizzas were to be shared between him and his roommate, ate one. His roommate later scolded him for taking a slice without asking for permission (464). In the Chinese student’s defence, his collectivist values meant food were to be shared; he felt embarrassed afterwards due to a cultural misunderstanding and hence, feel stressed as he failed to acclimate to the values of the foreign community he currently lives in. 

Another example to explain one of my arguments pertaining to the economic factors that causes stress among international students would be traced to the privatization of public institutions. At the University of Washington, out-of-state freshmen pay “tuition of $28,059, [which is] about three times as much as students from Washington state” (Lewin 1). This is a prime example to describe the effect of privatization, which can be defined as seeking other sources of revenue to compensate the reduction of spending on public higher education by state government. International students will experience stress due to the following combination: high cost of living, lack of job opportunities, rising tuition and high textbook prices (Leong 470). On top of academic and acculturative stress, international students also face financial challenges to support their education abroad. Financial challenges may impair students' performance in school, in which they may ultimately decide between quitting school or persevere in their studies (Banjong 138). 

*You can read the articles by clicking the author's name in the paragraphs above. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Research Blog #7: Frame

To summarize, my project is about identifying stress factors among international students matriculating in American universities. I will be focusing on three perspectives that are interconnected to one another, which are social, political and economic. 

Acculturative stress is an important term when discussing stress factors among international students. Poyrazli et al. describes the term as “sociological and psychological adaptation to a different culture after living in it for a considerable period of time” (26). The degree of acculturative stress is based on the level of adaptation of international students in the community, according Sullivan & Kashubeck-West; it may be either the academic community the belong to or the city they reside in. 

There is a model to describe this phenomenon, which is the Berry’s Mode of Acculturation, which I will discuss further in my paper; it is a very important model because the outcomes of the model is relative to the level of acculturative stress among international students. It also highlighted in Sullivan & Kashubeck-West's study. 

Pamela Leong may also affirm the fact that the university community's reception of international students "shape international students' experience" (472). In a way, if a student feel they are not well-integrated in the community they are a part of, it may exacerbate the acculturative stress they are experiencing. 

Another term that is very important to frame my project will be cultural barriers, and my focus would be on the cultural disparity between western and eastern cultures. Telbis et al. discussed that individualism, which is highly valued and practiced by Americans, and collectivism, which is common among Asian or Easterners, clashes and may impair a student’s ease to acculturate (332); hence, creating stress for international students. 

As per a study by Lijuan Zhai, she describes collectivism in which, the interest of all individuals in a group should be prioritized before an individual's interest, and thus, people are expected to sacrifice for the sake of others (100). In America, personal interests are more important than the interest of a group. In my upcoming blog post, I provide an example in which collectivist values clashes with individualistic ones. 

From a political perspective, a term that I briefly discuss is the “Trump-effect”; a generic term to describe the effects of the election of Donald Trump as President. His rhetorics and executive orders, such as the travel ban, had caused stress among international students, be it prospective or current students and it creates a chilling effect towards university applications that experiences a dip of 40% (Saul 1).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Research Blog #6: Visual


The image above shows Americans, or protestors, at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), holding up signs with names of travellers that were barred from entering the United States. This comes after President Donald Trump had signed an executive order that ban travellers, even with valid visas, from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country. 

The travel ban has directly affect international students, both current and prospective students. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, who visited home over the winter break, was barred from boarding her flight to the United States in Qatar; she was originally from Iran, one of the countries that is on the travel ban list. 

It is relevant to my topic of research as the political climate fostered and normalized by President Trump may create stress among international students. The travel ban creates unnecessary stress for international students because even with valid, multiple-entry visa and documentation, they are still subjected to scrutiny. Students fear that they may not be able to finish their diplomas, or be able to return to the U.S. after a short break visiting their home. 

At the same time, a xenophobic culture may prevent international students from integrating with their college or social community; acceptance in a community is essential for international students to reduce acculturative stress, which is a type of stress that arise from the process of adapting to a new environment and culture. If the culture persist, students will succumb to greater acculturative stress on top of academic stress, and eventually, impairs the mental health of international students that is already neglected by universities and colleges, despite paying full-freight for the same education and facilities as in-state students. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Literature Review #4

Coming to America: Assessing the Patterns of Acculturation, Friendship Formation, and the Academic Experiences of International Students at a U.S. College.


Leong, Pamela. “Coming to America: Assessing the Patterns of Acculturation, Friendship Formation, and the Academic Experiences of International Students at a U.S. College.” Journal of International Students, vol. 5, no. 4, 2015, pp. 459–474.


This study discusses the acculturation issues experienced by international students, particularly Chinese students matriculating at a regional state university in America. The problems encountered by these students were related to language, cultural differences and misunderstandings as well as financial challenges. She illustrated that the international students are an important source of social and economic capital, as they add diversity to college campuses and pose as an important source of revenue particularly for public universities and colleges. Therefore, it sheds light on the importance of maintaining the happiness of international students on college campuses in order to prevent stress or other psychological effects.


Pamela Leong, Ph. D. is an associate professor of Sociology at Salem State University. She received her Ph. D in Sociology from the University of Southern California and has research and teaching interests in social inequality, race and ethnicity, and higher education.

Key Terms


  • Every international student experience some kind of disorientation, as they attempt to acclimate to new, foreign environments. The frequent use of English and new learning pedagogy will promote acculturative stress among international students, particularly Chinese students whom are not fluent in English nor have different learning  

Language and cultural barriers

  • The language being referred to is English, which is the main language used for conversation and academia in the United States. Chinese students, in particular, lack fluency in English and therefore, become subjected to discrimination and isolated from members of the host nation’s community. In return, it creates stress among international students, particularly those from East Asian countries. 

“Individual-level factors such as language fluency and coping ability affect international students' lived experiences and satisfaction levels in their host environment. But arguably even more important are the culture and reception level of the host institution, host region and host nation.” (page 471)
"The lack of English fluency, further, may lead to discrimination by members of the host country" (page 472)
"In particular, the host institution's and host members' reception of the international students and their respective levels of support, inevitably shape international students' experiences." (page 472)

Like many other articles I have reviewed, Leong’s paper also discussed the importance of the host country’s reception of international students that steer their adjustments to a new and foreign culture, and hence, creates an argument that a xenophobic culture that President Trump is attempting to normalizing will severely impact prospective and current international students in American universities. In return, public institutions will experience a decrease in additional revenue needed to compensate for state budgetary cuts. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Literature Review #3

International Students' Enhanced Academic Performance: Effects of Campus Resources


Banjong, Delphine N. "International Students' Enhanced Academic Performance: Effects Of Campus Resources". Journal Of International Students, vol. 5, no. 1, 2015, pp. 132-142.


The paper discusses the challenges experienced by international students in the face of acculturation, while pursuing tertiary (or higher) education in the United States of America. Banjong cited English proficiency and loneliness, among other things, as stress factors; furthermore, the paper studies the frequency of international students seeking on-campus resources such as the Writing and Counselling centers.


Delphine N. Banjong is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of North Dakota.

Key Terms


  • The challenges highlighted in the paper includes loneliness or/and homesickness, depression or/and anxiety and the lack of English proficiency. 

Campus resources

  • As a response to the challenges experienced, the campus resources that were created to provide social support to international students. It includes the writing and counselling centers. 

“... international students do not seek counseling like domestic students do because some of them view the word counseling as a negative term, and they might not be familiar with the counseling process” (page 133)
"The type of culture these students adopt determines the magnitude of stress they experience." (page 133)
"Research has found that host nation students generally seek help from their supervisors only on academic or vocational problems but turn to friends or other sources for help on emotional and other personal problems. This seeking of help is not the same with international students who look up to their supervisors for almost everything…" (page 133)

The importance of this paper is to derive the stress factors among international students and why students feel stressed out. Following that, it sheds light on how international students deal with stress. At the same time, this paper provides a counterargument to Lijuan Zhai's argument in which, international students only seek help from on-campus resources for "administrative problems".

This paper is also supplementary to Acculturation Model introduced by Sullivan and Kashubeck-West, whereby the degree of stress is dependent on the level of social support receive primarily from the community of the surrounding or host country's community.