Exploring International Graduate Students’ Experiences, Challenges, and Peer Relationships

Impacts on Academic and Emotional Well-being





International Graduate Students, Mentorship, Peer Relationships, Social Integration, Transitional Experiences


As the number of international students in higher education continues to grow, so do concerns regarding systemic obstacles, discrimination, and social isolation that can impede students’ academic success. Peer mentorship has been shown to support graduate students through academic socialization and achievement in higher education (Lorenzetti et al., 2019). The purpose of this study was to explore the transitional experiences of international graduate students, and the extent to which peer-mentoring relationships can support academic and emotional well-being. Researchers interviewed 13 international graduate students from 3 professional faculties at a research-intensive Canadian university. International students described academic and intersectional challenges experienced while navigating and adapting to new environments and how these impacted both academic outcomes and students’ well-being. Relationships with peers were viewed as an essential means by which students could access academic and psychosocial supports necessary to adjust to and thrive in their new educational and cultural environments.

Author Biographies

Dr. Diane Lorenzetti, University of Calgary

DIANE L. LORENZETTI, PhD, is a Research Librarian with the University of Calgary’s Health Sciences Library and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine. Her research interests focus on mentorship as a means of furthering personal and professional development and mental health. Email: dllorenz@ucalgary.ca  

Dr. Liza Lorenzetti, University of Calgary

LIZA LORENZETTI, PhD, is an Associate Professor, community activist and educator/researcher with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary in Mokhinistsis (Calgary) in Canada. She has been involved in social justice and human rights movements for over three decades. Email: lakloren@ucalgary.ca 

Dr. Lorelli Nowell, University of Calgary

LORELLI NOWELL, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. She currently holds a teaching and learning professorship and actively conducts research on mentorship in higher education, innovations in teaching and learning, and the professional learning and development of educators. Email: lnowell@ucalgary.ca

Dr. Michele Jacobsen, University of Calgary

MICHELE JACOBSEN, PhD, is a Professor in Learning Sciences and Teaching Scholar, University of Calgary. She is Vice President of Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association. Michele uses participatory research methodologies to design and evaluate study innovations in online learning. Email: dmjacobs@ucalgary.ca

Tracey Clancy, University of Calgary

TRACEY CLANCY, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. She currently serves as the Assistant Dean of Faculty Development. Her research interests include teaching and learning in nursing and higher education, educators' professional learning and development, co-teaching, teaching presence, authentic learning, and self-authorship. Email: tclancy@ucalgary.ca

Georgina Freeman, University of Calgary

GEORGINA FREEMAN, MSc, is a Doctoral Student in Computational Media Design at the University of Calgary. Her doctoral research in technology co-design for healthcare builds on her experience in the development, facilitation and analysis of data generated through workshops, interviews and focus groups. Email: georgina.freeman@ucalgary.ca 

Dr. Elizabeth Oddone Paolucci, University of Calgary

ELIZABETH ODDONE PAOLUCCI, PhD, is a Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. As an applied health professions education researcher trained in educational psychology, Elizabeth’s research program is focused on measurement, curriculum design, quality assurance, and learner wellness. Email: eoddone@ucalgary.ca


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How to Cite

Lorenzetti, D., Lorenzetti, L., Nowell, L., Jacobsen, M., Clancy, T., Freeman, G., & Oddone Paolucci, E. (2023). Exploring International Graduate Students’ Experiences, Challenges, and Peer Relationships: Impacts on Academic and Emotional Well-being. Journal of International Students, 13(4), 22–41. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v14i2.5186