Factors that influence forming friendships

International students’ coping styles and social networks play significant roles in their social support systems and building relationships with American students. Factors that influence international students forming relationship with American students include international students’ personality, knowledge of the United States, attitude about forming friendship with Americans, communication skills, sex role differences, stigma, and their social environmental context. Research suggests that international students with more extraverted personalities, positive attitudes toward forming relationships with Americans, greater fluency in English, and limited access to other international students are more likely to build relationships with American students (Hayes & Lin, 1994; Ying, 2002; Ying & Han, 2008). Program faculty and mentors can also take an active role in facilitating friendships between international and American students by bringing both groups together for large- and small-group activities (Wickline, 2012).

How does social support affect IS adjustment?

Social interaction with hosts plays an important role in international students’ adjustment (Chapdelaine & Alexitch, 2004). One study showed that international students who were more satisfied with their interpersonal support networks had less perceived discrimination, perceived hatred, and negative feelings caused by change. Among the students who had used online ethnic social groups, those who reported receiving higher amounts of online informational support from the groups experienced lower level of acculturative stress (Ye, 2006).

What are the advantages of having U.S. social relationships?

One study found that affiliation with Americans helped extraverted international students to adjust (Ying & Han, 2006). International students who socialized with Americans functioned more comfortably in the American culture and had less adjustment difficulties (Trice, 2004). Research also found that they were open-minded and had lower intercultural communication apprehension (Williams & Johnson, 2011). Another study found that international students with more friendships with Americans developed greater English competence (Ying & Han, 2008).

Group differences on social support and challenges?

Research showed that culture distance is one of the factors that differentiate international students’ adjustment level. International students from Europe experienced less acculturative stress than their counterparts from Asia, Central/Latin America, and Africa (Yeh & Inose, 2003). Between different genders of international students, one study noted that women generally enjoyed more intercultural relationships than men (Ying & Han, 2006).

U.S.-Int’l interactions

A few components have been shown to be effective in classrooms with both domestic and international students: 1) international students can work from a position of power equality in class, 2) both groups of students can enact the role of ‘experts,’ and 3) support in language and learning how to learn is embedded in assessment and outcomes (Cruickshank, Chen, & Warren, 2012). Large-group activities and small-group dialogues facilitated by faculty have been shown to result in satisfaction and growth for a majority of American participants (Wickline, 2012). One study found that empathy was the primary motivator for domestic student behavior and actions in relationships with international students (Siem & Stürmer, 2012).

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