International Students’ Cultural and Social Experiences in a British University: “Such a hard life [it] is here”


  • Linda K. Newsome Arizona State University
  • Paul Cooper Brunel University London



International students, international education, cultural barriers, student adjustment, culture shock, human needs, geopolitical climate


The authors in this qualitative study examined international students’ cultural and social experiences using data collected through case studies and semi-structured, in-depth, informant style interviews. Participants were all international students (n=18), mostly postgraduate from Asian and Far Eastern countries studying at a British higher education institution. The students’ personal journeys are traced through a three-stage process that moves from (1) high initial expectations, through (2) culture shock, to (3) various eventual patterns of accommodation. In addition to capturing the sometimes raw personal experiences of individuals, the study also delineates the ways in which geopolitical and social-emotional factors coalesce to shape students’ personal experience and self-concepts.

Author Biographies

Linda K. Newsome, Arizona State University

LINDA K. NEWSOME, EdD, is associate faculty. Her research interests include cross-cultural learning and teaching in higher education and international students’ adjustment. 

Paul Cooper, Brunel University London

PAUL COOPER, PhD, is professor of social-emotional learning and inclusion. His research interests include social emotional aspects of education, and strategies for promoting effective student engagement in educational processes.




How to Cite

Newsome, L. K., & Cooper, P. (2016). International Students’ Cultural and Social Experiences in a British University: “Such a hard life [it] is here”. Journal of International Students, 6(1), 195–215.



Research Articles (English)