The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

James Heiman

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

International students, host culture, cultural identity, identity crisis, third culture kids


Each year, international students make the decision to go on a journey of studying abroad and many of them choose the United States as their second home. Generally, international students decide to study aboard in the hope to gain experience, learn new cultures as well as their great passion for travelling. While they are pursuing their graduate and postgraduate education in the United States, international students encounter numerous issues in both social and academic settings. Despite the fact that there is diversity in the United States, international students still face issues such as language barrier, culture shock and different types of stress caused by homesickness.

This study examines the hardships as well as cultural and identity challenges that international students encounter during their stay in the United States. The sample consisted of ten students, from ten different countries who are studying abroad in a university located in the Midwest. The researcher conducted one-on-one semi-structured interviews that lasted around an hour for each participant. The interviews were audio recorded where it was then made into narrative form, with direct quotations in some cases.

In this study, the participants shared stories about the difficulties they have been challenged with such as cultural misunderstanding, academic achievement, social acceptance, identity confusion and other societal pressures and expectations. International students encountered various problems in both their academic and social life. The findings also include information, which will better serve educators, parents as well as both local and international students.