Social Media Use and Adaptation Among Chinese Students Beginning to Study in the United States

Forbush, E. and Foucault Welles, B.
International Journal for Intercultural Communication
50(1), 1-12
December 8, 2015


Chinese international students studying abroad in the United States undertake a life changing venture; one that produces numerous benefits for both the Chinese students and the American people, yet is also fraught with hardships and struggle. Prior literature shows that large and diverse social networks are ideal for increasing international students' adaptation. Using an online questionnaire administered to 120 Chinese international college students studying in the U.S., we explored the potential impact that the utilization of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) could have on the construction of such social networks, when used during study abroad preparation. We found that students who used SNSs more often during their study abroad preparations had larger, more diverse social networks abroad, compared with students who used SNSs less often or not at all. Students with more diverse social networks reported significantly higher levels of social and academic adaptation in the host culture. We suggest universities and advisors provide training for the use of SNSs to Chinese students during their study abroad preparations, in order to increase social and academic adaptation when abroad.

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