, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 699-725

ETHNIC COMMUNITIES WITHIN THE UNIVERSITY: An Examination of Factors Influencing the Personal Adjustment of International Students

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Abstract

International students frequently encounterproblems in adjusting to their new social environmentwhen studying at American institutions of highereducation. This paper contends that an importantstrategy used by international students in theadjustment process is to establish social relationshipswith other persons with a similar cultural background ornationality and form ethnic communities within the context of the university. Participation insuch an ethnic community serves to buffer internationalstudents from problems associated with a lack ofassimilation of American culture and an inability to effectively interact with Americans. This papertests the conditional hypotheses that assimilation ofAmerican culture and the establishment of social tieswith Americans influence the personal adjustment of an international student, only when thestudent has not established strong ties with otherpeople from a similar cultural background. The number ofstrong ties established with other coculturals was found to have the strongest relationship withthe personal adjustment of international students. Therelationship between assimilation of American cultureand personal adjustment was found to be conditional on the number of strong ties established withother coculturals whereas the establishment of strongties with Americans was found to be independentlyrelated to personal adjustment.