Communication & Medicine, Vol 11, No 3 (2014)

Communicating in a different culture: Identifying acculturative stress among international students in South Korea

Jinbong Choi, Wonjun Chung
Issued Date: 27 Apr 2016


Using online survey data obtained from a total of 174 international students from outside Asia currently attending six universities in South Korea, this study tested hypotheses regarding the relationship between acculturative stress and depression, and the roles of social resources (e.g. social supports from the host country) and psychological resources (e.g. selfesteem and locus of control) in moderating the nature of the stress–depression relation. It was found that international students who reported that they had experienced acculturative stress, mainly due to language barriers and the perception of academic dissimilarities, had higher depression levels than those who reported fewer or no such experiences. This study also revealed a three-way interaction of all variables on depression, indicating that both social and psychological resources played moderating roles in diminishing the strength of the relationship between acculturative stress and depression. Based on those findings, it is argued that more proactive, culturally sensitive communication intervention efforts at South Korean colleges are needed to help the growing numbers of international students cope with acculturative stress and mental illness, which they often encounter in a new culture and education.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v11i3.29773


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