Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 15

It Just Doesn't Taste the Same

Because most colleges and universities require first-year students
to live on campus, they also try to provide robust campus dining halls
and other food locations to meet the dietary needs and preferences
of students in residence.
first-year residency requirements. Understanding the residential experiences of international students is particularly important
as they are not only transitioning to life in
a new country but must also adjust to eating
new and different foods. The question guiding this study is " What are first-year international students' perceptions of campus food
and dining at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)? " The purpose of this study is
to explore first-year international students'
experiences with campus dining, from their
observations of food quality and taste to their
perception of cultural differences. We sought
to illuminate these experiences, given how
essential factors like food quality, nutritional value, and menu variety may contribute
to feelings of satisfaction among residential
students (Wooten et al., 2018).

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
AND CAMPUS FOOD
The recruitment of international students
has been an institutional priority for many
colleges and universities in the U.S., which
resulted in an all-time high in their enrollment in 2015-16; however, in recent years,
international student enrollment in U.S.
higher education institutions has trended
downwards, including a decrease of 1.8%
from 2018-19 to 2019-20 (Institute of International Education, 2020). This decrease
requires a closer examination of factors that
may influence student satisfaction and retention, especially for first-year international
students who may experience more difficulties transitioning to their new home on campus (Yao, 2016; Yao et al., 2019)

12

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

	
International students' behaviors related
to eating habits and food choices are highly
affected within the first few months of transition to a new culture (Hartwell et al., 2011).
As stated by Corcoran (2018), " Food is an
integral part of the environment and culture
of a host country " (p. 177). International students make food choices influenced by their
upbringing in their home country " while
simultaneously managing the transition
to culturally different food environments "
(Corcoran, 2018, p. 177). For many international students, food and dining can serve as
a way to connect with peers and acculturate
to a new place (Alakaam & Willyard, 2020).
	
Adapting to a new cultural environment
and food choices may cause some initial
difficulties for these students. For example,
international students reported an overall
decrease in health status after arriving in the
United States, which was attributed to decreased consumption of water, fruit, and vegetables combined with an increased intake
of sugar and fast food (Msengi et al., 2011).
Similarly, Lee (2017) reported that the eating
habits of many East Asian students changed
when they chose to dine out more frequently
after arriving in the U.S. In addition, they reported eating more processed food due to its
convenience, availability, and taste and also
because it is cheaper and " it makes them feel
good " (Lee, 2017, p. 172).
	
Choosing to dine at restaurants may
stem from dissatisfaction with on-campus
dining options. Because many undergraduate international students live on campus,
they are typically required to purchase an
on-campus meal plan. For many interna-



Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2

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