Social Indicators Research

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 315–337 | Cite as

Satisfaction with life among international students: An exploratory study

  • David Lackland Sam


The study examines self-reported satisfaction with life and thefactors predicting it among 304 international students (159 malesand 145 females) at the University of Bergen, Norway. Thestudents had on the average lived 2.34 years (SD = 2.31) inNorway. The students reported on the whole good satisfactionwith life. However, students from Europe and North America wereon the whole more satisfied than their peers from Africa andAsia. It was also found that factors such as the number offriends, satisfaction with finances, perceived discrimination andinformation received prior to the foreign sojourn significantlyaffected the student's life satisfaction. The importance ofthese factors differed for students from developing and developedcountries where some paradoxical findings came out. Theseparadoxical findings may be the result of the Norwegian contextof the study. Language proficiency (with respect to host andEnglish languages), and having a host national friend did notshow significant effect on life satisfaction.

foreign/international students adaptation life satisfaction well-being 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aamodt, P. O. and J. Wiers-Jenssen: 1998, Undersøkelse av Studentenes Tilfredshet (Norsk Institutt for studier av forskning og utdanning, Oslo).Google Scholar
  2. Aich, P.: 1963, ‘Asian and African students in West German universities’ Minerva: A Review of Science, pp. 429–462.Google Scholar
  3. Amir, Y.: 1969, ‘Contact hypothesis in ethnic relations’ Psychological Bulletin 71, pp. 319–342.Google Scholar
  4. Andrews, F. M. and S. B. Withey: 1976, Social Indicators of Well-Being (pmenum, New York).Google Scholar
  5. Anumonye, A.: 1970, African Students in Alien Cultures (Black Academy Press, New York).Google Scholar
  6. Arubayi, E.: 1980, ‘Identification of problems experienced by Nigeria students enrolled in Kansas State universities’ ERIC Database 19842, CG 014 960.Google Scholar
  7. Barratt, M. F. and M. E. Huba: 1994, ‘Factors related to international undergraduate student adjustment in an American community’ College Student Journal 28, pp. 422–436.Google Scholar
  8. Barker, M., C. Child, C. Gallos, F. Jones, E. and V. J. Callan: 1991, ‘Difficulties of overseas students in social and academic situations’ Australian Journal of Psychology 43, pp. 79–84.Google Scholar
  9. Baron, B. and P. Brachman: 1987, ‘Studying abroad in western Europe: A bibliography’ European Journal of Education 22, pp. 5–17.Google Scholar
  10. Beardsley, L. and P. Pedersen: 1997, ‘Health and cultural-centered intervention’ in J. W. Berry, M. H. Segall and C. Kagitcibasi (eds.), Handbook of Cross-cultural Psychology, Volume 3: Social Behaviour and Applications (2nd edition) (Boston, Allyn and Bacon), pp. 413–448.Google Scholar
  11. Berry, J. W., K. Kwak, K. Liebkind, J. S. Phinney, C. Sabatier, D. L. Sam, E. Virta and C. Westin, 1994: Questionnaire for the International Comparative Study of Ethnocultural Adolescents (ICSEY) (CEIFO, Stockholm University, Stockholm).Google Scholar
  12. Bochner, S., B. M. McLeod and A. Lin: 1977, ‘Friendship patterns of overseas students’ Journal of Social Psychology 110, pp. 265–272.Google Scholar
  13. Church, A. T.: 1982, ‘Sojourner adjustment’ Psychological Bulletin 91, pp. 540–572.Google Scholar
  14. Cormach, M.: 1968. ‘The wondering scholar’ International Educational and Cultural Exchange 3, pp. 45–55.Google Scholar
  15. Crano, S. L. and W. D. Crano: 1993, ‘A measure of adjustment strain in international students’ Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 24, pp. 267–283.Google Scholar
  16. Decision: 1995, Decision No. 819/95/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 14th. March 1995 establishing the Community action program “Socrates” Official Journal of the European Communities No L 87/10, 20.4.95Google Scholar
  17. Dierner, E.: 1994, ‘Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities’ Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 103–157.Google Scholar
  18. Diener, E., R. Emmos, R. Larsen and S. Griffin: 1985, ‘The satisfaction with life scale’ Journal of Personality Assessment 49, pp. 71–75.Google Scholar
  19. Dierner, E., E. M. Suh, R. E. Lucas and H. Smith: 1999, ‘Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress’ Psychological Bulletin 125, pp. 276–302.Google Scholar
  20. Dovidio, J. and S. Gaertner: 1986, Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism (Academic Press, Olando, Florida).Google Scholar
  21. Eide, I.: 1970, Students as Links Between Cultures (Universitetforlaget, Oslo).Google Scholar
  22. Fitterlig, D.: 1981, ‘Curricula for foreign students?’Western European Education 3, pp. 38–48.Google Scholar
  23. Fong, S. and H. Peskin: 1969, ‘Sex role strain and personality adjustment of Chinese-born students in America: A pilot study’ Journal of Abnormal Psychology 74, pp. 563–569.Google Scholar
  24. Furnham, A. and N. Alibhai: 1985, ‘The friendship networks of foreign students’ International Journal of Psychology 20, pp. 709–722.Google Scholar
  25. Furnham, A. and S. Bochner: 1982, ‘Social difficulty in foreign culture:An empirical analysis of culture shock’ in S. Bochner (ed.), Cultures in Contact: Studies in Cross-cultural Interactions (Pergamon, London).Google Scholar
  26. Furnham, A. and S. Bochner: 1986, Culture Shock: Psychological Reactions to Unfamiliar Environments (Methuen, London).Google Scholar
  27. Furnham, A. and S. Shiekh: 1991, ‘Gender, generation and social support correlates of mental health in Asian immigrants’ International Journal of Social Psychiatry 39, pp. 23–33.Google Scholar
  28. Fulbright, I. W.: 1976, ‘The most significant and important activity I have been privileged to engage in during my years in the senate. The Fulbright Scholarship Program’ Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 424, pp. 1–5.Google Scholar
  29. Gulløy, E., S. Opdahl and I. Øyanger: 1998, Leverkår og Forbruk Balnt Studenter 1998. Hovedresultater og Dokumentasjon (SSB, Avdeling for personstatistikk, Oslo).Google Scholar
  30. Hocoy, D.: 1997, Apartheid, Racism and Black Mental Health in South Africa, and the Role of Racial Identity. Unpublished PhD. Dissertation (Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada).Google Scholar
  31. Hull, W. F.: 1978, Foreign Students in the United States of America: Coping BehaviourWithin the Educational Environment (Praeger, New York).Google Scholar
  32. Imman, M. and R. S. Baron: 1996, ‘Influence of prototypes on perceptions of prejudice’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70, pp. 727–739.Google Scholar
  33. Inglhart, R. and J. C. Rabier: 1986, ‘Aspirations adapt to situations-but why are the Belgians so much happier than the French?’ in F. M. Andrews (ed.), Research on the Quality of Life (SurveyResearch Center, Institute for Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), pp. 1–56.Google Scholar
  34. Jou, Y. H. and H. Fukada: 1997a, ‘Stress and social support in mental and physical health of Chinese students in Japan’ Psychological Reports 81, pp. 1303–1312.Google Scholar
  35. Jou, Y. H., and H. Fukada: 1997b, ‘Effects of social support on adjustment of Chinese students in Japan’ The Journal of Social Psychology 135, pp. 39–47.Google Scholar
  36. Kagan, H. and J. Cohen: 1990, ‘Cultural adjustment of international students’ Psychological Science 1, pp. 133–137.Google Scholar
  37. Klineberg, O.: 1970, ‘Psychological aspects of student exchange’ in I. Eide (ed.), Students as Links Between Cultures (Universitetsforlaget, Oslo).Google Scholar
  38. Klineberg, I.: 1980, ‘Stressful experiences of foreign students at various stages of sojourn: Counselling and policy implications’ in. C. V. Coelho and P. I. Ahmed (eds.), Uprooting and Development Dilemmas of Coping with Modernisation (Plenum Press, New York).Google Scholar
  39. Klineberg, O. and W. F. Hull: 1979, At a Foreign University: An International Study of Adaptation and Coping (Praeger, New York).Google Scholar
  40. Lewthwaite, M.: 1996, ‘A study of international students' perspectives on crosscultural adaptation’ International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling 19, pp. 167–185.Google Scholar
  41. Marville, A.: 1981, ‘The case of international students: A foreign student reports’ College Board Review 120, pp. 23–26.Google Scholar
  42. Mastenhauser, A. J.: 1983, ‘Learning from sojourners’ in D. Landis and R. W. Brislin (eds.), Handbook of Intercultural Learning (Volume 2), pp. 153–185.Google Scholar
  43. Morris, R. T.: 1960, The two Way Mirror: National Status in Foreign Students' Adjustment (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis).Google Scholar
  44. Neto, F.: 1995, ‘Predictors of satisfaction with life among second generation migrants’ Social Indicators Research 35, pp. 93–116.Google Scholar
  45. Oei, T. P. S. and F. Notowidjojo: 1990, ‘Depression and loneliness in overseas students’ The International Journal of Social Psychiatry 36, pp. 121–130.Google Scholar
  46. Open Doors: 1996/97, Report on International Education Exchange (Institute of International Education, New York).Google Scholar
  47. Paige, M. R.: 1990, ‘International students: Cross-cultural psychological perspectives’ in R. W. Brislin (ed.), Applied Cross-Cultural Psychology (Sage Publications, London), pp. 161–185.Google Scholar
  48. Phinney, J. S., T. Madden and L. J. Santos: 1998, ‘Psychological variables as predictors of perceived ethnic discrimination among minority and immigrant adolescents’ Journal of Applied Social Psychology 28, pp. 937–953.Google Scholar
  49. Sam, D. L.: 1989, Mental Health of Foreign Students. Unpublished Dissertation in Psychology (School of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen).Google Scholar
  50. Sam, D. L.: 1994, ‘School adaptation of young Vietnamese refugees in Norway’ Migration 23, pp. 219–242.Google Scholar
  51. Sam, D. L.: 1998, ‘Predicting life satisfaction among adolescents from immigrant families in Norway’ Ethnicity and Health 3, pp. 5–18.Google Scholar
  52. Sam, D. L. and R. Eide: 1991, ‘Survey of mental health of foreign students,'tScandinavian Journal of Psychology 32, pp. 22–30.Google Scholar
  53. Sanchez, J. and D. M. Ferdinadez: 1993, ‘Acculturative stress among Hispanics: A bi-dimensional model of ethnic identification’ Journal of Applied Social Psychology 23, pp. 654–658.Google Scholar
  54. Schuman, J.: 1986, ‘Research on the acculturation model for second language acquisition’ Journal of Multilingual and Multi-cultural Development 7, pp. 379–391.Google Scholar
  55. Sellitz, C. and S.W. Cook: 1962, ‘Factors influencing attitudes of foreign students towards the host country’ Journal of Social Issues 18, pp. 7–23.Google Scholar
  56. Seligman, M. E. P. and M. Csikszentmihalyi: 2000, ‘Positive psychology: An introduction’ American Psychologist 55, pp. 5–14.Google Scholar
  57. Sewell, W. H. and O. M. Davidson: 1961, Scandinavian Students on an American Campus (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis).Google Scholar
  58. Shin, D. and D. Johnson: 1978, ‘Avowed happiness as an overall assessment of quality of life’ Social Indicators Research 5, pp. 474–492.Google Scholar
  59. Spauling, S. and J. M. Flack: 1976, The Worlds' Students in the United States: A Review and Evaluation of Research on Foreign Students (Praeger, New York).Google Scholar
  60. UGC: 1968, Enquiry into Student Progress (University Grants Committee, London).Google Scholar
  61. Walton, B.: 1968, ‘Foreign students in perspective’ International Education and Cultural Exchange 3, pp. 55–60.Google Scholar
  62. Ward, L.: 1967, ‘Some observations of the underlying dynamics of conflict in a foreign student’ Journal of American College Health Association 15, pp. 430–440.Google Scholar
  63. Ward, C. and A. Kennedy: 1993, ‘Where's the “culture” in cross-cultural transitions? Comparative studies of sojourner adjustment’ Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 24, pp. 221–249.Google Scholar
  64. Yamazaki, M., N. Taira, N. Shun-ya and T. Yokoyama: 1997, ‘The role of ethnicity in the development of the Asian students' attitudes toward Japanese and other cultures’ Japanese Journal of Educational Psychology 45, pp. 119–128.Google Scholar
  65. Ying, Y-W. and L. H. Liese: 1990, ‘Initial adaptation of Taiwanese foreign students to the United States: The impact of pre-arrival variables’ American Journal of Community Psychology 18, pp. 825–845.Google Scholar
  66. Ying, Y. and L. H. Liese: 1991, ‘Emotional well-being of Taiwan foreign students in the US: An examination of pre-to post-arrival differential’ International Journal of Intercultural Relations 15, pp. 345–366.Google Scholar
  67. Ying, Y. and L. H. Liese: 1994, ‘Initial adjustment of Taiwanese students to the United States’ Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 25, pp. 466–477.Google Scholar
  68. Zurin, L. M. and R. T. Rubin: 1967, ‘Paranoid psychotic reactions in foreign students from non-Western countries’ Journal of American College Health Association 15, pp. 220–226.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lackland Sam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial ScienceUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations