International Education in Hong Kong: Paradoxes in intercultural communication, adaptation, and acculturation strategies

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


Traditional sending countries of international students in East Asia have emerged as increasingly desirable higher education destinations. Yet little is known about the experiences of international students in East Asia as most research focuses on those in the Anglophone West. This study aims to study the intercultural communication, adaptation, and acculturation strategies of international students in Hong Kong. In-depth interviews were conducted with international students from other Asian countries (n=14) and Western countries (n=10). The findings identified a paradox between the international students’ enthusiasm to engage with students from other backgrounds and a lack of interactions and friendships with local students. First, cultural and language differences were perceived to create a wall separating them from the local students, inhibiting a cosmopolitan learning environment. Second, international students primarily identified with peers with a shared national or cultural background who could provide a readymade community. Third, international students often reported sociocultural adaptation challenges and feelings of being outsiders, potentially exacerbating psychological adaptation problems. Based on these findings, a framework is proposed depicting interactive and responsive relationships among intercultural communication, adaptation, and acculturation. It is concluded that it is important to put forward initiatives aimed at realising the benefits of international student mobility for both international and local students.
Period23 Feb 2023
Event titleCGHE Seminar
Event typeSeminar
Degree of RecognitionInternational