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Problems Of International Students At Universities In New Zealand

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Dicuss about the Most Common Social and Psychological Adjustment Problems Faced By International Students Coming to Study at Universities In New Zealand.


General Area:

The general social and psychological issues faced by international students at universities in New Zealand for adjustment

Sub Area

Comparative perception of cultures and lifestyle as profound influences on adjustment of international students at universities in New Zealand

Research question:

How does the difference between lifestyle in New Zealand and the home country of international students affect their adjustment to the university environments in New Zealand?

Education in international jurisdictions has not only worked as a potential sources for reduction of geopolitical boundaries but has also allowed flexible opportunities for students to share the abundant pool of knowledge and competences that can be acquired from foreign universities (Casper & Card, 2016).

However, the noticeable concerns that can be drawn with respect to the impact of social and psychological concerns for adjustment of international students to academic environment of New Zealand. International students have to progress through distinct stages of adapting to social, psychological and academic dimensions during the course of their involvement with the university studies.

Some of the notable pitfalls that can be associated with students have been noticed in literature and cultural adaptation has been identified as a major deterrent in the adaptation of international students to the available environment for university studies in New Zealand (Cheng, Lau & Chan, 2014). An illustration of distinct themes that could be related to the social and psychological adjustment issues for international students can be identified in the literature review presented as follows.

Theme 1: Levels of Adaptation

The insights on personal identity as well as the potential for adaptability that an international student perceived in New Zealand or any foreign jurisdiction could be associated with the level of adaptation or adjustment required by an international student. Literature suggests that the extent of adjustment with the international environment especially the cultural dimensions, leads to profound changes in personal identity of an individual. Adaptation to the cultural environment and the social settings in New Zealand would enable higher integration of students in the social environment alongside facilitating distinct stages of adjustments.


As per Estévez, et al, the distinct categories reflect on the initial stage of shock, proportional identity, successful outcomes and maladaptive adjustment (Estévez, et al., 2014). The initial stage of shock is particularly derived from the separation of an international student from home. The proportional identity illustrates the perception of students about the identity and distinct levels of adaptation that can be measured by the similarities between knowledge acquired by the students through their stay in New Zealand and the feeling of belongingness experienced by them in the society.

According to Golombok, et al, Successful outcomes have also been included as notable entities in the levels of adaptation theme for social and psychological adjustments of international students since they refer to the adaptability of students flexibly to the cultural and language precedents. It is also imperative to consider the implications of maladaptive adjustment that can be observed in case of the levels of adaptation for international students (Golombok, et al., 2014).

This facet is associated with pessimistic direction alongside creating hopelessness that could indirectly lead to incompetency, isolation, unwantedness, inadequacy and perception of discriminatory attitude. Therefore, international students could face notable difficulties with respect to the levels of adaptation since the required levels of adjustment could impact the personal identity of the student reflecting on the long term impact of adaptation.

Theme 2: Adjustment issues

The comprehensive evaluation of issues which are associated with adjustment of international students could also be assumed as a prominent theme for determining plausible approaches to resolve the research question pertaining to which issues are the most influential on the adjustment of international students in foreign academic environments (Noor, et al., 2016). The process of social adjustment is indicative of profound pitfalls that are imposed on the psychological behaviour of an individual and international students face social, emotional and academic problems.

These adjustment issues could also be associated with varying levels of intensities and remedial approaches can be formed accordingly. As per Pastore, et al, Academic issues that are observed in context of adjustment can be resolved by students by reaching out to larger university communities rather than restricting themselves to communities and groups of similar cultures and nationalities (Pastore, et al., 2014).

The prominent entities which contribute to the resolution of academic adjustment issues include the international office, student clubs, academic services and tutoring services as well as computer labs and writing centres. The emotional adjustment issues are reflected on the individual self of the international students and examples of following religious scriptures, prayers and roles for countering stress faced by them in the international academic environments.Theme

Theme 3: Appraisal of Lifestyle

The theme of identity issues and adaptation levels are closely complemented by the aspects of lifestyle appraisal that can be observed in the differences perceived by international students in the lifestyle of New Zealand society and that of their homeland. The extent of disparity among the nature of lifestyles in varying societies is implicative of difficulties in understanding a foreign culture and adjusting to it. The observation of two profound entities in the lifestyle appraisal aspect of the social and psychological adjustment factors for international students refers to freedom of choice and contextual meaning (Przybylski, 2014).

Freedom of choice is perceived by international students in the privileges to select flexibly from the varying options in different sectors such as employment, living standards and education. Research studies have profoundly indicated that while many international students perceive higher freedom of choice in New Zealand, a substantial share of New Zealand’s international students of universities perceived higher restrictions n New Zealand’s society as compared to that of their homeland.

The implications of contextual meaning with respect to the adaptation of international students in New Zealand’s universities refer to the comparison between home and foreign society on the basis of distinct dimensions of everyday lives (Wu, 2017). Contextual meaning has been associated with three profound influential factors such as availability, structure and efficiency (Golombok, et al., 2014).

Gap, purpose and value:

The literature review pertaining to the concerned issue of international students is characterized by the purpose of identifying long term consequences rendered by adjustment of students to the local environment of New Zealand. Value of the literature review can be stated in identification of opportunities that can enhance the involvement of international students in the social life without compromising their social identity (Przybylski, 2014).

Certain gaps which limited the scope of the literature review were largely directed towards the lack of illustration on the elements of social support and migrant motivation as well as appraisal of performance in immigration since these factors can influence the course of action followed by international students for adjusting to the local environment in New Zealand.   



Casper, D. M., & Card, N. A. (2016). Overt and Relational Victimization: A Meta?Analytic Review of Their Overlap and Associations With Social–Psychological Adjustment. Child development.

Cheng, C., Lau, H. P. B., & Chan, M. P. S. (2014). Coping flexibility and psychological adjustment to stressful life changes: A meta-analytic review.

Estévez, E., Emler, N. P., Cava, M. J., & Inglés, C. J. (2014). Psychosocial adjustment in aggressive popular and aggressive rejected adolescents at school. Psychosocial Intervention/Intervencion Psicosocial, 23(1).

Golombok, S., Mellish, L., Jennings, S., Casey, P., Tasker, F., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Adoptive gay father families: Parent–child relationships and children's psychological adjustment. Child Development, 85(2), 456-468.

Noor, R., Gul, S., Khan, E. A., Shahzad, N., & Aqeel, M. (2016). The Impact of Coping Strategies on Psychological Adjustment across Male and Female Spinal Cord Injured Patients. J. Appl. Environ. Biol. Sci, 6(2S), 137-143.

Pastore, V., Galbiati, S., Villa, F., Colombo, K., Recla, M., Adduci, A., ... & Strazzer, S. (2014). Psychological and Adjustment Problems Due to Acquired Brain Lesions in Pediatric Patients: A Comparison of Vascular, Infectious, and Other Origins. Journal of child neurology, 29(12), 1664-1671.

Przybylski, A. K. (2014). Electronic gaming and psychosocial adjustment. Pediatrics, 134(3), e716-e722.

Wu, Q. (2017). Effects of social capital in multiple contexts on the psychosocial adjustment of Chinese migrant children. Youth & Society, 49(2), 150-179.


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