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International Journal of Intercultural Relations

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Acculturation, Acculturative stress, Ethnic identity, Unaccompanied sojourners, International students




Increasing accessibility and the demand for international education globally has engendered a new wave of international students of diverse demographic backgrounds and developmental characteristics. The appeal of studying in western, English-speaking countries is strong even among very young adolescents from East Asia. However, existing literature on international students has largely overlooked this younger sojourner population. Thus, little is currently known about the effects of developmental and cultural factors on the cross-cultural adaptation of these teenage international students. In this exploratory study, the psychological well-being and adaptation of adolescent Taiwanese unaccompanied sojourners (N=201) attending secondary schools in a large Canadian city were examined. The study first investigated the participants’ perceived preparedness for studying in Canada. A significant number of these students reported feeling ill-prepared and poorly oriented upon their arrival in Canada, as well as suffering from a lack of information about their host country and their purpose for sojourning. The study then tested a path model of adaptation based on six variables emerged from a quantitative survey and conceptualized within the acculturation and ethnic identity frameworks. The four predictors were perceived prejudice, education-related acculturation, interpersonal competence, and age of arrival; the two criterion variables were acculturative stress and ethnic identity. In the best-fitting model, education-related acculturation reduced acculturative stress while perceived prejudice contributed to such stress. However, the predictor variables’ relationships with the criterion variables were mediated by interpersonal competence. Implications for future research, counseling, and cross-cultural training with teenage sojourners are discussed.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30, 2, 2006. (

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