Sociocultural Challenges

In order to gain information about students’ social life on an American campus, I asked respondents to rank their difficulties in four different social scenarios on a 5-point scale, with 1 being not challenging at all and 5 a critical challenge.

Results show that “making good friends with Americans” (M = 3.73, SD = 1.10) and “successfully communicating with Americans” (M = 3.50, SD = 1.28) were the most difficult things for Chinese students to adjust on an American campus. This confirms general discussions about Chinese international students’ social challenges in the United States. Cho (1990), for instance, found the general lack of social skills among Chinese students often led to feelings social isolation. On the other hand, in contrast to previous findings, the current findings indicate that American sociocultural values, such as individualism, competitiveness, and assertiveness (M = 2.61, SD = 1.23), are the least difficult for Chinese students to

Rank

Sociocultural concerns

N

M

SD

1

Making good friends with Americans

60

3.73

1.10

2

Successfully communicating with Americans

60

3.50

1.28

3

Knowing how to participate and behave in American social situations

60

3.25

1.03

4

Accepting American sociocultural values such as individualism and competitiveness

60

2.61

1.23

Table 5.10 Unpaired t-test for differences between female and male students in the severity of social concerns about how to behave in social settings

Gender

n

M

SD

Mean diff

t

p

Female

27

2.92

0.87

0.59

2.32

0.02*

Male

33

3.51

1.09

Note: *p < 0.05

Table 5.11 Unpaired t-test for differences between engineering school and business school students in the severity of social concerns about how to behave in social settings

Major

n

M

SD

Mean diff

t

p

Engineering

24

3.58

0.92

0.83

2.22

0.03*

Business

8

2.75

0.88

Note: *p < 0.05

accept. Previous studies (Sun and Chen 1997; Frank 2000) found that American values of individualism and assertiveness are one of the most difficult things for PRC students to adjust to due to cultural differences. This discrepancy suggests that Chinese students’ value system changed from previous generations. China’s open- door policy and the increased cultural exchange between the United States and China might account for the changes (see Table 5.9).

In terms of social skills such as how to participate and behave in an American social situation, such as at parties, happy hour, receptions, or ceremonies, significant difference is identified across gender and majors among the subjects. Male students feel it is much more challenging than female students do (t = 2.32, p = 0.02 < 0.05). Engineering students feel more challenged than students in business school do (t = 2.22, p = 0.03 < 0.05) (see Tables 5.10 and 5.11).

 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >