free essays
Free essays

Social Adjustment Problems Faced by International Students in New


SocialAdjustment Problems Faced by International Students in New Zealand

Thedifference between the social and cultural elements between countriespresents diverse challenges of social adjustment to internationalstudents in any country. Students that come to study in the newZealand face a number of problems due to the social adjustmentchallenges. Taking New Zealand as the foreign country in reference tothese students, this paper seeks to research on the problems theyface while studying in the country. Moreover, this paper seeks toexplore how these problems affect their academic performance.Consequently, this research takes the following research question

Doesthe social adjustment problems faced by international universitystudents in New Zealandealand affect their academic performance atthe institutions of study.


Studentsfrom all over the world arrive in New Zealandealand to quench theirthirst for better and diverse education offered in New Zealandealand.This has led to the entry of international students in the country,especially in the institutions of higher education (Yang et al. 2006page 2). According to EducationCount, (2014 page 2), there have been over 55,000 internationalstudents in New Zealand in a year since the 2011. Dueto the diversities existing between the countries of origin, thesestudents face challenges and problems related to these diversities.The problems arise for the students in their quest to settle andfamiliarize with the country as they engage their educationalresponsibilities of studies.This research will utilize studies and information from professionalsin the country with the aim of answering the research question statedabove. Through the literature review, the research will explore howthese problems affect the students and the gap, the purpose and thevalue of the research.


Oneof the social adjustment problems faced by international students iscultural diversities that exist between their home countries and NewZealand. According to Wardand Kennedy (1990 page 13), culturaldiversities lead to differences in the performances among thesestudents due to the differences in knowledge and social backgroundsand social inequalities among countries. According to Wardand Kennedy (1999 page 13), the adaptation to the new culture becomesa problem because it challenges the foundational personal values thatare related to differences in countries with New Zealand, forinstance Singapore. Thismakes the process of adapting to the diversities in culture andsocial set up to take time, which is valuable to internationalstudents. Yang et al (2006 page 2) argues that adaptation to thesocial-cultural diversities depends on the time that a student or aperson share with the new culture. The process is challenging tostudents who on the other hand are struggling to accommodate the newenvironment and educational tasks. Due to the cultural diversities,their social interactions are curtailed and limited to the extent oftheir adaptation to the new socio-cultural set ups.

Anothermain social adjustment problem that international students face isthe language barrier between them and locals. This adjustment problemaffects the task of understanding learning instructions, especiallywhen English is not their first language. Many international studentscoming to New Zealand for studies come from countries that do notspeak English as the first language (Myles&amp Cheng, 2003 page 8 para 2).In some countries, English is not spoken or even taught at all. Forexample, according to Cameronand Meade (n.d page 2), Asian students constituted around 27% ofinternational students in New Zealand in the year 2001. Thismakes it a challenge for them to comprehensively understand thecontent of every lesson or course that is instructed in English, inNew Zealand (Redmond&amp Bunyi, 1993 Page 5 para 2).Therefore, to solve the problem, the students are forced to studyEnglish first and reach a sufficient level of proficiency.Moreover, these students are affected by the problem when answeringquestions, which may reflect on their academic performance.

Inaddition, the international students face the problem of adjusting toa new educational system other than the one they are used to in theirhome countries. The difference in the educational system and thecurriculum affects their academic performance, especially in theearly years of their study in New Zealand. However, this may notreplicate to all students and in all courses. Thedifferencein the education system makes the curriculums different, whichpresents challenges to the international student to adjust to the NewZealand’s way of study. The differences also come along present thechallenge of changes in the academic sessions. According to Berno(2004 page 19, para 3), properorientation and social-cultural training should be done to foreignstudents to help them handle this problem and help universitieshandle the international students.

Anothersocial adjustment problem that face international students is the gapbetween the reality about New Zealand and the personal expectationsand perceptions about New Zealand in them. This challenge is morethan those that are associated with the change in the environment, itis associated with the social view of individual students. Accordingto Berno(2004 page 16para 3-17 para 1), thismay not be directly associated with their studies, but it reflects onthe academic progress of the students, especially if their view isnegative.Berno (2004 page 16 para 3) arguesthat how a student views New Zealand will affect how they willperform and more importantly, how they will adjust to their newsettlement in the country for studies.

Finally,social diversities between their home countries and New Zealand leadto a problem of communication between the international students andpeers. According to Cameronand Meade (n.d page 3 para 2), thisis because of the language difference as well as the new socialstructure in the country. Sometimes it is difficult for someinternational students to interact with local peers in New Zealand’seducational institutions (Myles&amp Cheng, 2003, page 4 para2).The challenge of communication in their education is furthercomplicated by the need to express their challenges at both socialand official levels.In addition, fluent speech challenges many international students toquench their social desire to adapt to the new culture and interactwith local students. However, some students from countries likeMalaysia and Singapore find it easy to get along with New Zealandcompared to international students from other countries. (Ward&amp Searle, 1990 page 10 para 2).This is because the level of communication and social interaction of New Zealand and these countries is friendly.

Gap,Value and Purpose

Thereis a significant need for further research in understanding socialadjustment problems of. This is because international students alsofind it difficult to adjust themselves to the new social set up whichbecomes a challenge. The value of this research is in addressingthese challenges and help such students, especially since theadjustment affects their academic and social life at the institutionsof higher learning. The purpose of this study is to explore theseproblems, address their circumstances and provide a platform offinding their solutions. This will make New Zealand a bettereducational destination for international students.


Berno,T. (2004). Cross cultural and educational adaptation of Asianstudents in New Zealand.

Researchreport for Asia, Lincoln University/University of South Pacific.

Cameron,B., &amp Meade, P. (N.d). Supporting the Transition to University ofInternational

Students:Issues and Challenges. Universityof Otago, New Zealand

EducationCount, (2014). International studentsin New Zealand. RetrievedFrom,

&lthttp://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/excel_doc/0017/102590/Key-Indicators-T1-2013F.xlsx&gtApril 27, 2014

Myles,J. Cheng, L. (2003). The social and cultural life of non-nativeEnglish speaking

Internationalgraduate students at a Canadian university. Journalof English for Academic Purposes, Volume2, Number 3, 2003 , pp. 247-263(17)

Redmond,M.V., &amp Bunyi, J.M. (1993). The relationship of interculturalcommunication

Competencewith stress and the handling of stress as reported by internationalstudents. InternationalJournal of Inrercultura~Relotions. Vol.17, pp. 235-254, 1993

Ward,C., &amp Kennedy, A. (1999). The Measurement Of SocioculturalAdaptation. Int.J.

InterculturalRel.Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 659-677, 1999

Ward,C., &amp Searle, S. (1990). The Prediction Of Psychological AndSociocultural Adjustment

DuringCross-Cultural Transitions. InternotronalJournal of Intercultural Relrrtrons,Vol. 14, pp. 449-464, 1990

Yang,et al. (2006). Multiple routes to cross-cultural adaptation forinternational students:

Mappingthe paths between self-construals, English language confidence, and

adjustment.InternationalJournal of Intercultural Relations30 (2006) 487–506