Social Networking Process in Adjusting to Life in the United States: A Case Study on the Journey of the International Students at the University Of Missouri - Kansas City

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Sora Friedman


This explorative case study examined the social networking process of international students while adjusting to campus life at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Based on the integrative and interrelated frameworks of social capital theory, culture shock theory, and social support network models, the study examined the establishment of new support networks by looking at how international students at UMKC bridged their fundamental beliefs, assumptions, and expectations in building new personal networks while adjusting to their new environment. The study used an email survey, individual interviews, and focus group discussions (FGDs) to determine how the needs and support groups’ compositions had changed over time.

The study revealed five factors that determined the international students’ abilities to adjust to campus life. They were: (a) motivations and expectations before leaving home, (b) initiation to social networking upon arrival, (c) social network characteristics at later stages of the adjustment process, (d) the barriers and limitations to the social networking process, and (e) the conceptual framework building support networks model.

The findings of the study substantiated a more theoretically grounded understanding of dilemmas associated with cultural adjustment. The findings also provide international students, scholars, and international education professionals with information about how to help and guide international students in their cultural adjustment processes, especially in terms of helping international students establish informal support networks.


International and Comparative Education | International and Intercultural Communication

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