Relationship between Students' Adjustment Factors and Cross Cultural Adjustment

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Student, International student Pages: 21 (4816 words) Published: October 14, 2013
Intercultural Communication Studies XXII: 1 (2013)

C. Mustaffa & M. Ilias

Relationship between Students Adjustment Factors and
Cross Cultural Adjustment:
A Survey at the Northern University of Malaysia
Che Su Mustaffa & Munirah Ilias
Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia
Abstract: Internationalization in higher learning education has become an increasingly important issue in most countries around the world, of which Malaysia is no exception. Over the past two decades, the international activities of most universities have expanded in volume, scope and complexity. Besides, the increasing numbers of international students from different countries in University Utara Malaysia have inspired the researcher to explore their cultural adjustment in this university. Therefore, this study seeks to investigate a range of variables that seem to affect the process of adjustment of international students in University Utara Malaysia. The populations for this research were the international students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). A total of 186 students have been selected as respondents. It was found that there are no significant differences in terms of cross cultural adjustment between genders. Whereas, travel experience, level of education, and language proficiency contributed significantly to the differences in cross-cultural adjustment among respondents. Research also found that there is significant relationship between academic factor, personal-emotion as well as environmental factor and cross cultural adjustment. Based on the findings, a few suggestions were made for improvement in university support to facilitate international students’ cultural adjustment.

Keywords: Host country, international students, cultural adjustment, sojourners, support
1. Introduction
People who live in a foreign country may face problems of adjustment. International students are not exempted from this process. Understanding the process of adjustment is very important to the success of this sojourner population. From the arrival of international students in the host country, they will encounter many different and unexpected problems. Students may need to adjust to a new educational system, which differs considerably from the methods of study in their own country (Mehdizadeh & Scott, 2005). There can be some difficulties in adjustment for the foreigner in obtaining suitable accommodation and desired food, whether for religious or personal reasons. There could be the probability that the host country may not provide sufficient support for the overseas students.

Recent research suggested that foreign students’ adjustment is influenced by various cross-cultural variables, such as the amount of contact with host nationals, length of residence, finance, and accommodation. Furthermore, previous studies have suggested that the adjustment


Intercultural Communication Studies XXII: 1 (2013)

C. Mustaffa & M. Ilias

of international students differs according to the country of origin and country of study. In addition, a range of economic and psycho-social factors that affected adjustment has also been identified in the previous research ((Mehdizadeh & Scott, 2005; Misra & Castillo, 2004). According to Misra and Castillo (2004), all international students go through the process of adjusting to a new educational system and social environment. Adjustment to these new environments can be a stressful process (Li & Gasser, 2005) since they have to adapt to new cultural values, foods, weather, etc.

Although previous studies have explored adjustment through the measurement of one or a limited number of variables, this study tries to investigate a range of variables that seem to affect the process of adjustment of international students in Malaysia. Thus, the present study examines the relationship between academic style, socio-cultural factors, personal emotion, environment and intercultural communication apprehension with...
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