Chinese International Students’ Experiences in a Canadian University

Ethnographic Inquiry with Gender Comparison


  • Lin Ge University of Regina
  • Douglas Brown University of Regina
  • Douglas Durst University of Regina



Chinese international students, ethnographic inquiry, lived experiences


The study employed ethnographic inquiry to present the lived experiences of Chinese international students while attending the University of Regina, Canada. The findings displayed the transformative experiences of this group, including language acquisition, academic and social challenges, and the strategies by which the cultural group attempted to overcome the challenges with gender comparison. The study highlighted specific challenges affecting Chinese female students as they labor to overcome sexism and patriarchy on two continents. Cultural stereotyping and negative labeling were also evaluated in detail. Arguably, the findings might potentially impact education/social policies and university protocols as impinging vulnerable groups. Recommendations were made to alleviating difficulties for the group in facilitating a more supportive learning process within the university environment.

Author Biographies

Lin Ge, University of Regina

LIN GE, is a current PhD student in education at the University of Regina, Canada. Her major research interests lie in the area of marginalized groups’ education research, higher education research, trans-cultural education research, and social and philosophical foundation of education research.

Douglas Brown, University of Regina

DOUGLAS BROWN, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Social Studies Education, University of Regina, Canada. His major research interests lie in the area of policy and the critical agenda, and social and philosophical foundation of education research.

Douglas Durst, University of Regina

DOUGLAS DURST, PhD, is a Professor in the Social Work, University of Regina, Canada. His major research interests focus on First Nations self-government and social integration of marginalized Canadians.


Aidoo, B. (2012). An examination of mature interpersonal relationships among international and American college students (unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Southern Mississippi.

American Psychological Association. (2011). Stress and gender. Retrieved from s/stress/2011/ gender.aspx.

Brody, J. E. (2015, March 27). You don't have to do everything because your children will be fine. Retrieved from

Canada Statistics. (2009). A Changing Portrait of International Students in Canadian Universities. Statistics Canada. Ottawa. Retrieved from /2009005/ article /11405-eng.htm.

Canada Statistics. (2016). Study in Canada. Government of Canada: Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from /index.aspx? lang=eng.

Canada Statistics. (2016a). International students in Canadian universities, 2004-2005 to 2013-2014. Statistics Canada: Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from /pub/81-599-x/81-599-x2016011-eng.htm.

Canada Statistics. (2017). Trends in university graduation, 1992 to 2007. Statistics Canada: Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from /pub/81-004-x/2009005/article/11050-eng.htm.

Canadian Bureau for International Education. (2009). The 2009 survey of international students. Retrieved from /resource s/20091110 _survey international students _e.pdf.

Chao, C.G. (2016). Decision making for Chinese students to receive their higher education in the U.S. International Journal of Higher Education, 5(1), 28-37.

Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry research design: Choosing among five approaches. 4th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York: Macmillan.

Dutta, D. (2012). Sustaining liminality: experiences and negotiations of international females in U.S. engineering graduate programs. (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Purdue.

Eno, R. (2015). The analects of Confucius: an Online Teaching Translation. Retrieved from (Eno-2015).pdf.

Galloway, F. J., & Jenkins, J. R. (2005). The adjustment problems faced by international students in the United States: A comparison of international students and administrative perceptions at two private, religiously affiliated universities. NASPA Journal, 42 (2), 175-187.

Gates, M. (2017, October 22). Cultural stereotyping. Retrieved from

Gu, Y. (2006). An ecological model of e-learning in Chinese context-critical reflections of 5 years’ practice of e-learning management in IBOE. Studies in Continuing Education, 28(2), 99-120.

He, Q. L. (2001). An analysis on the social environment of women’s changing status in China. Modern China Studies. Retrieved from /past-issues/73-mcs-2001-issue-2/574-2012-01-03-12-11-52.html.

Jiao, J. (2006). Exploring the reasons for student ethnic groupings: The case of Chinese students at the of Chinese students at the University of Windsor. (unpublished MA dissertation). Retrieved from:

Jurasek, R., Lamson, H., & O’Maley, P. (1996). Ethnographic learning while studying abroad. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 2(1), 23-44.

Kuo, B., & Roysircar, G. (2004). Predictors of acculturation for Chinese adolescents in Canada: Age of arrival, length of stay, social class, and English reading ability. Journal of Multicultural Counselling and Development, 32, 143-154.

Kutting, M. Y. (2012). Doctoral advising: a grounded theory exploration of femalemainland Chinese international students. (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Rochester.

Le, T. A., LaCost, B.Y., & Wismer, M. (2016). International female graduate student’ experience at a Midwestern University: sense of belonging and identity of development. Journal of International Students, 6(1), 128-152.

Li, X. B., Dipetta, T., & Woloshyn, V. (2012). Why do Chinese study for a master of education degree in Canada? What are their experiences? Canadian Journal of Education, 35(2), 149-163.

Liang, S. X. (2003). Academic adaptation: Mainland Chinese students in graduate programs at a Canadian university. (unpublished doctoral thesis). Graduate Division of Educational Research, Calgary.

Liu, W., & Lin, X. B. (2016). Meeting the needs of Chinese international students: is there anything we can learn from their home system? Journal of Studies in International Education, 20 (4) 357–370. doi: 10.1177/ 10283153166 56456.

Longerbeam, S. D., DeStefano, T. J., & Yu, L.X. (2013). “We cannot reach them”: Chinese undergraduate student perceptions of the U.S. campus climate. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 50(3), 326-344, doi: 10.1515/jsarp-2013-0023.

Mirza, H. S., & Meetoo, V. (2012). Respecting difference: race, faith and culture for teacher educators. London: Institute of Education.

Nasrin, F. (2001). International female graduate students’ perceptions of their adjustment experiences and coping strategies at an Urban Research University. The Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association. 71.

Ogbonaya, A. I. (2010). A learner analysis of international female doctoral students' experiences at an American university (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of North Colorado: CO.

Ogden, A.C. (2006). Ethnographic inquiry: reframing the learning core of education abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 13, 87-112.

Ortiz, A., Chang, L., & Fang, Y. (2015, February 2). International Student Mobility Trends 2015: An Economic Perspective. World Education News and Reviews. Retrieved from

Phillips, G. C. (2013). A comparative study of international student engagement and success based on race/ethnicity, gender, institution type (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota.

Sam, D. L. (2001). Satisfaction with life among international students: An exploratory study. Social Indicators Research, 53, 315–337.

Savin-Baden, M., & Major, C. H. (2013). Qualitative research: the essential guide to theory and practice. New York: Routledge.

Sun, Y. (2005). The position and right of Chinese women in Chinese families. Modern Chinese Studies. Retrieved from http://www.issues/90-mcs-2005-issue- 4/936-2012-01-05-15-34-56.html.

UR International Statistics. (2017). The number of Chinese international students.

Wall, S. (2008). Of heads and hearts: Women in doctoral education at a Canadian university. Women's Studies International Forum, 31(3), 219-228.

Yan, A. (2015, March 25). Why Chinese parents are sending their children abroad o study at a younger age. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from

Yang, L. X. (2010). Doing a group presentation: negotiations and challenges experienced by five Chinese ESL students of commerce at a Canadian university. Language Teaching Research, 14(2), 141-160.

Zhang, Z. H., & Zhou, G. (2010). Understanding Chinese International Students at a Canadian University: Perspectives, Expectations, and Experiences. Canadian and International Education, 39(3), 43-58.

Zhao, N. X., & McDougall, D. (2008). Cultural influences on Chinese students’ asynchronous online learning in a Canadian university. Journal of distance education, 22(2), 59-80.




How to Cite

Ge, L., Brown, D., & Durst, D. (2019). Chinese International Students’ Experiences in a Canadian University: Ethnographic Inquiry with Gender Comparison. Journal of International Students, 9(2), 582–612.



Research Articles (English)