‘It’s more foreign than a foreign country’: adaptation and experience of Mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong

Baohua YU*, Kun ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Recent years have witnessed an increasing number of Mainland students crossing the border to pursue tertiary studies in Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. In contrast to those who have chosen to study in foreign countries, such as United States, United Kingdom or Germany, the Mainland group are studying and living in a society that is both familiar and strange to them due to unique political and sociocultural relationships between Hong Kong and the Mainland. Previous research has mainly focused on Mainland students’ motivations for choosing Hong Kong as their academic destination, but questions as to how they adapt to the university setting and host society have been under-researched. Adopting a qualitative approach, this study reports on the findings of focus groups exploring Mainland students’ adaptation to life and study in Hong Kong. Findings revealed that linguistic adaptation, social network, political identification and discrimination were the most significant acculturative stressors reported by Mainland students. Implications for how Mainland students can best adjust and how universities can better support them are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-315
Number of pages16
JournalTertiary Education and Management
Issue number4
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Professor Peter Bodycott, Professor Anita Mak and Professor Anne Porter for their contributions in making this research project possible.

This study is supported by General Research Fund [grant number GRF 840313] by Hong Kong University Grants Committee.


  • acculturative stressors
  • Hong Kong
  • Mainland students
  • sociocultural adaptation


Dive into the research topics of '‘It’s more foreign than a foreign country’: adaptation and experience of Mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this