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International Students' Housing Experience
their culture (Sherry et al., 2009). In their study on communication dynamics among
international and U.S. students, Antonio and Ofori-Dwumfuo (2015) suggested that
international students in the global living-learning community reported challenges in
communication, which led to conflicts with roommates due to cultural differences
between their home countries and the United States. International students can also
be exposed to discrimination and microaggressions, which make them feel inferior or
marginalized and thus can exacerbate their feelings of being isolated, insecure, unsafe,
or invalidated in their home away from home and negatively impact their psychological
well-being (Koo, 2021; Yao, 2014).
International students with limited English can be afraid to speak the language,
which hinders meaningful interaction with their roommates or can lead to miscommunications
(Yao, 2014). The difficulty in communication and lack of meaningful
interactions can make international students feel isolated, diminish their sense of belonging,
and deteriorate their mental well-being (Koo et al., 2021; Yao, 2016). Furthermore,
international students with limited English who also feel a cultural stigma about
counseling may be reluctant to seek help from residence life or the counseling center
when they experience problems with their roommates (Sim et al., 2021).
Although there is little research on what facilitates international students' positive
roommate relationships, researchers have examined what promotes their adjustment
and lowers their acculturative stress. Yakunina and colleagues (2013) suggested that
those international students who strived to develop and improve themselves, to be
optimistic and persistent, and to appreciate differences and similarities among different
cultures were more likely to adjust well and have less acculturative stress. Further,
higher levels of social support were associated with better cross-cultural adjustment
for international students (Baba & Hosoda, 2014). Residence halls with many international
students also contributed to positive adjustment experiences because these
students could share the transition with each other (Lisack, 2014).
The current study explored international students' perceived benefits and
challenges of multicultural living-learning communities and the factors that facilitated
positive roommate relationships. We aimed to explore the following research
questions: (a) What are female international students' perceptions of the benefits
and challenges of living with roommates from different cultural backgrounds in
multicultural living-learning communities? (b) What facilitates female international
students' establishment of positive relationships with roommates from different
cultures in multicultural living-learning communities?
METHOD
We chose a qualitative design, consensual qualitative research (CQR; Hill, 2012),
because there is little research in this area and we were interested in an inductive
and in-depth approach to better understand international students' lived experiences
(Sim et al., 2016). CQR is a comprehensive approach to qualitative research with
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