A Qualitative Exploration of Korean International Students Rebuilding Social Support in U.S. Higher Education

Jihee Cho, Fordham University


This dissertation study explored the experiences of Korean international students rebuilding their social support in the United States. Participants were born in Korea, moved to the United States with a student visa (F-1) by themselves with no family or friends living in the United States at the time of their arrival, and they were currently attending institutions of U.S. higher education. Twelve participants (ages 21 to 32), five males and seven females, completed a demographic questionnaire, the Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students (ASSIS; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994), and an in-depth, semi-structured interview. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using grounded theory methodology. The purpose was to explore these Korean international students’ experiences of acculturative stress and the process of rebuilding social relationships and social support during their study abroad in U.S. colleges or universities. Analysis of the 12 interviews yielded five selective categories, 11 axial categories, and 26 open categories. The five selective categories were (1) the decision to study in the United States, (2) various emotional reactions, (3) exposure to different social relationships, (d) evolving social support, and (5) social support in different contexts. Clinical and training implications for college counselors and study abroad consultants are provided on potential issues to explore with Korean international college students who experience acculturative stress and challenges in developing new sources of social support.

Subject Area

Asian Studies|Counseling Psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Cho, Jihee, "A Qualitative Exploration of Korean International Students Rebuilding Social Support in U.S. Higher Education" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10278241.