Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Kyongboon Kwon

Committee Members

Cheryl Baldwin, David A Klingbeil, Bo Zhang


American, Chinese international, Friendships, High School, Students


Current research revealed that international students adjust more optimally to the host country when they have host-national friendships (e.g., Hechanova-Alampay, Beehr, Christiansen, & Van Horn, 2002; Hendrickson, Rosen, & Aune, 2011). The researcher aimed to study and examine the process of sociocultural adjustment for Chinese international high school students. Specifically, the present study focused on the perspectives of Chinese international high school students to: a) gain an overall understanding of Chinese international students’ perception of intercultural friendships with American high school students and b) identify factors that afford and constrain intercultural friendships between the two student groups as perceived by Chinese international high school students. Twelve Chinese international high school students participated in the study. An analysis of participants’ interview responses generated four themes, including 1) Despite having experienced various acculturative stressors as they interacted with Americans, there were factors and conditions that are conducive to intercultural friendship development between Chinese international and American high school students, 2) Participants perceived friendships with fellow Chinese students to be important and a protective factor for studying abroad, 3) Participants valued friendships with American students and perceive such friendships to be instrumental for adjusting to the United States, and 4) Participants perceived interactions and engagement with Americans to be important for developing intercultural friendships. Participants’ experiences aligned with findings of previous research regarding international undergraduate and graduate students in some respects and differed in other respects. Implications of the findings are discussed in regard to intercultural friendship development between the two student groups.