We Are Not All the Same

A Qualitative Analysis of the Nuanced Differences Between Chinese and South Korean International Graduate Students’ Experiences in the United States





academic challenges, academic experience, acculturation, Chinese international graduate students, South Korean international graduate students


This qualitative study explored the experiences of six Chinese and South Korean graduate students in the United States. Semistructured interviews and an interpretive phenomenological approach were used in which three major themes emerged: (a) academic challenges and acculturation, (b) academic support from host institute, and (c) cultural and pedagogical nuances. Challenges included language barriers during lectures, discussions and writing assignments, and lack of support services for international students. One significant finding was Chinese and South Korean students do not have the same graduate experiences in the United States. Participants shared how their prior homeland learning experiences (course delivery, relationships with instructors and assessments) impacted their learning, relationships, and academic challenges in the United States.

Author Biographies

Chi Yun Moon, Texas A&M University, USA

CHI YUN MOON, PhD candidate, is a doctoral student in Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M. Her major research interests lie in the area of academic achievement, multicultural education, child development, early childhood, and international students

Shuai Zhang, Appalachian State University, USA

SHUAI ZHANG, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education at Appalachian State University. His major research interests include cognitive and linguistic profiles of poor readers and international students.

Patricia Larke, Texas A&M University, USA

PATRICIA J. LARKE, EdD, is a Professor in Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M. Her major research interests are educating teachers for diverse classrooms by using cultural sensitization, culturally responsive teaching, and cross-cultural mentoring.

Marlon James, Texas A&M University, USA

MARLON C. JAMES, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M.  His major research interests are urban school reform, urban teacher education, African American male education, and urban community-school partnerships.


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How to Cite

Moon, C. Y., Zhang, S., Larke, P., & James, M. (2020). We Are Not All the Same: A Qualitative Analysis of the Nuanced Differences Between Chinese and South Korean International Graduate Students’ Experiences in the United States. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 28–49. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i1.770