“It’s My Fault”: Exploring Experiences and Mental Wellness Among Korean International Graduate Students





Korean international students, graduate students, mental health, well-being, qualitative study, Holistic Wellness Model


Mental health issues are on the rise on college campuses for all students, including international students. This qualitative study explores the mental wellness of Korean international graduate students, a sub-group that has received limited attention. By interviewing 18 Korean international graduate students in the United States, we found that limited English proficiency shapes various aspects of Korean international graduate students’ well-being; self-imposed pressures negatively influence mental wellness; self-blaming and an inability to express one’s feelings lead to further deterioration; and students turn to physical and religious/spiritual activities to improve their mental wellness. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Author Biographies

Katie Koo, University of Georgia, USA

Katie Koo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at the University of Georgia. Her major research interests lie in the area of diversity and equity in higher education focusing on underrepresented students’ collegiate experiences, mental health issues, and adjustment, including international students’ psychological well-being.

Young Won Kim, The University of Washington, USA

Young Won Kim, is a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Washington. His major research interests lie in the area of statistical methods for social networks and longitudinal research designs and students' motivation and psychological well-being.

Joonyoung Lee, The University of North Texas, USA

Joonyoung Lee, Ph.D., is an adjunct faculty and project coordinator in the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation at the University of North Texas. His major interests lie in the area of underserved children’s motor development, perceived competence, physical/health promotion, and family environment.

Gudrun Nyunt, Northern Illinois University, USA

Gudrun Nyunt, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University. Her major research interests lie in the area of higher education and student affairs focusing primarily on internationalization efforts such as student mobility and education abroad, experiences of minoritized and marginalized populations in higher education, and mental health of college students.


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How to Cite

Koo, K., Kim, Y. W., Lee, J., & Nyunt, G. (2021). “It’s My Fault”: Exploring Experiences and Mental Wellness Among Korean International Graduate Students. Journal of International Students, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v11i4.2801



Research Articles