Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1 - 66

Facilitators of International Students' Establishment
of Positive Roommate Relationships
In discussing what facilitated positive roommate relationships, the participants typically
mentioned individual characteristics such as personality qualities and traits. Within
the category of individual characteristics, they variantly discussed having a genuine
respect for and interest in other cultures. As Participant 11 noted, " They're really open
to embrace different culture . . . they're willing to embrace everything, difference. Or
they are willing to know about us. " This finding is consistent with research indicating
that international students who strive to appreciate cultural differences tend to adjust
well and have less acculturative stress (Yakunina et al., 2013).
The participants also variantly discussed their motivation to enhance adjustment
as a facilitating factor in their multicultural living. For example, Participant 7 said,
I think the motivation makes me easy to live with [the roommates] . . . sometimes I don't
want to talk with them anymore. But sometimes I have a good motivation to talk with
them. . . . the important thing is to keep the motivation to stay with them very [close]
and friendly.
Motivation helps international students keep seeking opportunities to spend more
time with their roommates and other U.S. students to enhance their learning, and
those with higher self-determined motivation tend to adapt to new cultures better than
those without it (Chirkov et al., 2007).
The last individual characteristic that the participants variantly discussed was related
to personality (in this case, optimism). Participant 6 said, " She is so kind and thinks
about what I might want and so she helps me to live a good life. " This echoes the suggestion
that international students who are optimistic and able to appreciate differences
between different cultures are more likely to adjust well (Yakunina et al., 2013).
The second typical variable participants discussed as facilitating positive roommate
relationships was the interpersonal and relational characteristics. Within this category,
the participants typically talked about interpersonal interactions such as greeting
one another and eating or having fun together. For example, Participant 2 stated,
It was very good when we ate different cultural food and listened to different cultural
music . . . food is the way to get close . . . one of the foreigners . . . her face is so always
angry, but she ate the okonomiyaki, and [then] her face is so smiley. And she'll talk to you
" What's that? " so it's so nice to talk with her.
As mentioned earlier, having more chances to interact seemed to enhance interpersonal
relationships across different cultures (Heine & Renshaw, 2002), and programs that
facilitated spontaneous interactions such as a cultural dinner seemed to be effective
ways to increase interactions among domestic and international students.
Motivation helps international students keep seeking opportunities to spend
more time with their roommates and other U.S. students to enhance their
learning, and those with higher self-determined motivation tend to adapt to
new cultures better than those without it.
Volume 49, No. 1 * 2022 63

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