"It can be chaos here": International Student Experiences of U.S. Higher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Peter G. Ghazarian Ashland University
  • Babita Bhandari Ashland University
  • Shuoyu Chen Ashland University


higher education, COVID-19, international student experiences, United States


The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered life at higher education institutions in the US. International students were particularly affected because they lack the community and support structures upon which other stakeholder groups could rely. International student experiences of the pandemic may have been further exacerbated by uncertain immigration policies, their perceptions of more successful containment of the virus abroad, and xenophobia in the public discourse. This phenomenological study documents the experiences of international students in US higher education during the pandemic to determine how they adapted, how they were shaped, and how their attitudes toward study abroad in the US may have changed. It seeks to introduce the voices of these students to the scholarly literature. The findings reveal a sense of chaos, an aversion to online instruction, a lack of non-academic support form institutions, and a tarnished, but still attractive image of the US as a destination for study abroad.


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Author Biographies

Peter G. Ghazarian, Ashland University

Dr. Peter G. Ghazarian has been involved in international education in the USA, Germany, UK, and Korea. He has a broad range of interests related to the social and economic changes rooted in globalization.

Babita Bhandari, Ashland University

Babita Bhandari is a doctoral student in leadership studies at Ashland University.

Shuoyu Chen, Ashland University

Shuoyu Chen is a doctoral student in leadership studies at Ashland University.


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How to Cite

Ghazarian, P. G., Bhandari, B., & Chen, S. (2023). "It can be chaos here": International Student Experiences of U.S. Higher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 15(1). Retrieved from https://ojed.org/index.php/jcihe/article/view/4437



Empirical Article