Challenges and Success Among International Students: What Makes International Students Resilient?


International students face an array of challenges while attending higher education institutions. Among these challenges are the resettlement process of making a home in a new country, developing new relationships (e.g., friends, close relationships), and attending college courses in a country and culture different from their own. Using the grounded theory method, we interviewed international students about these challenges in addition to how they were impacted by the onset and persisting COVID-19 pandemic. We also interviewed a few faculty and staff members about their experience working with international students. Our findings suggested that international students faced a number of challenges in general, including language barriers, discriminations, difficulties making friends, etc. However, they also shared some good aspects in studying and living in the U.S. For example, many international students appreciated that professors in the U.S. were approachable, and many of them liked the university systems in the U.S. In addition, international students were affected negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic in different aspects, including impacts on their personal and academic lives, emotional impact, financial impact, etc. However, they also received support from the university during the pandemic. Further resilience among these international students is because of a substantial amount of support from their home network (i.e., friends and family from their home country), their new friends, and especially their higher education institution. Recommendations to higher educational institutions are provided.

Author Information
Lijing Ma, University of San Francisco, United States
Jeremy R. Becker, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, United States
Hisako Matsuo, Saint Louis University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: BCE2023
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture

This paper is part of the BCE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Ma L., Becker J., & Matsuo H. (2023) Challenges and Success Among International Students: What Makes International Students Resilient? ISSN: 2435-9467 – The Barcelona Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon