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Birds of a Feather Fare Less Well Together: Modeling Predictors of International Student Adaptation

Gibbs, Renee
Güneri, Oya
Pankau, Thomas
Bikos, Lynette
Sociocultural adaptation to the host country is an important corollary to the psychological well-being of international students. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test a model of sociocultural adaptation and psychological wellbeing. International students in Ankara, Turkey (N = 161, mean age = 22.35) completed online surveys. Consistent with our hypotheses, interpersonal connections with host nationals predicted greater sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.250, p = 0.001) and interpersonal connections with co-nationals resulted in poorer psychological adjustment (beta = -0.171, p = 0.025). Host-country language proficiency led to better sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.262, p < 0.001), and perceptions of greater cultural distance had a negative impact on both psychological (beta = 0.314, p < 0.001) and sociocultural adaptation (beta = 0.328, p < 0.001). Thus, students who were able to engage in relations with host-country nationals fared better. Our results provide insight for sending and receiving institutions regarding the preparation (e.g., exploring cognitive frames for immersion, language skills, reviewing coping strategies) and supportive services (e.g., connection with host country nationals) that will facilitate the adjustment of international students.