Presentation Title

Loneliness in International Undergraduates’ Own Words

Presentation Type

Poster

Keywords

loneliness, undergraduates, international students, cultural differences, isolation, homesickness

Department

Psychology

Major

Psychology

Abstract

Loneliness is a painful awareness that one’s social relationships are less numerous or meaningful than one desires. To feel lonely is to feel excluded from a group, unloved by those surrounding oneself, unable to share one’s private concerns, or alienated from those in one’s surroundings.

Loneliness might be particularly acute in international undergraduates. In addition to the usual challenges of adjusting to academic demands and the social life of college, international students have the challenges of being away from their home country, language, food, and more.

We sought to understand loneliness in the words of undergraduate international students as they describe experiences of loneliness. We employed focus groups to gain an understanding of the range of opinions and experiences pertaining to loneliness among international undergraduates.

Five international undergraduates (1 woman, 4 men) at a small, liberal arts Christian university that has a loneliness rate of 68% participated in one of two focus groups. The focus groups discussions lasted an average of 41.5 minutes (SD = 0.81 minutes). Discussion questions included “What does loneliness feel like to you?” and “Can you recall talking to anyone at this university about feeling lonely? If yes, what kinds of things did you say?” We recorded the focus group discussions and employed transcribeme.com for the transcripts. Our focus group study is ongoing. We will have completed more focus group discussions and, thus, have data from more international undergraduates by the time of the Seaver College Research and Scholarly Achievement Symposium.

So far, we have found that international undergraduates’ comments fall into one of eight themes: (1) cultural differences, (2) physical isolation of campus, (3) access to resources, (4) concurrent depression and anxiety, (5) socially isolating situations, (6) homesickness, (7) cultural foods, and (8) social media.

These findings are important because they show how some international undergraduates experience loneliness. The findings also start to provide ideas of what student affairs offices on college campuses might consider in their efforts to help alleviate loneliness among their international undergraduates.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Khanh Bui

Funding Source or Research Program

Academic Year Undergraduate Research Initiative, Summer Undergraduate Research Program

Location

Waves Cafeteria

Start Date

25-3-2022 2:00 PM

End Date

25-3-2022 3:00 PM

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Mar 25th, 2:00 PM Mar 25th, 3:00 PM

Loneliness in International Undergraduates’ Own Words

Waves Cafeteria

Loneliness is a painful awareness that one’s social relationships are less numerous or meaningful than one desires. To feel lonely is to feel excluded from a group, unloved by those surrounding oneself, unable to share one’s private concerns, or alienated from those in one’s surroundings.

Loneliness might be particularly acute in international undergraduates. In addition to the usual challenges of adjusting to academic demands and the social life of college, international students have the challenges of being away from their home country, language, food, and more.

We sought to understand loneliness in the words of undergraduate international students as they describe experiences of loneliness. We employed focus groups to gain an understanding of the range of opinions and experiences pertaining to loneliness among international undergraduates.

Five international undergraduates (1 woman, 4 men) at a small, liberal arts Christian university that has a loneliness rate of 68% participated in one of two focus groups. The focus groups discussions lasted an average of 41.5 minutes (SD = 0.81 minutes). Discussion questions included “What does loneliness feel like to you?” and “Can you recall talking to anyone at this university about feeling lonely? If yes, what kinds of things did you say?” We recorded the focus group discussions and employed transcribeme.com for the transcripts. Our focus group study is ongoing. We will have completed more focus group discussions and, thus, have data from more international undergraduates by the time of the Seaver College Research and Scholarly Achievement Symposium.

So far, we have found that international undergraduates’ comments fall into one of eight themes: (1) cultural differences, (2) physical isolation of campus, (3) access to resources, (4) concurrent depression and anxiety, (5) socially isolating situations, (6) homesickness, (7) cultural foods, and (8) social media.

These findings are important because they show how some international undergraduates experience loneliness. The findings also start to provide ideas of what student affairs offices on college campuses might consider in their efforts to help alleviate loneliness among their international undergraduates.