“I Was New and I Was Afraid”

The Acculturation Strategies Adopted by International First-Year Undergraduate Students in the United States


  • Masha Krsmanovic University of Southern Mississippi, USA




acculturation, culture, first-year students, international students, social integration


This article utilized Berry’s acculturation model (1974, 1980, 1997) as the framework for understanding the social experiences of international first-year students in a large, public institution in the Southeast United States. Using a descriptive phenomenological research design and a sample of 10 international students, this study examined the extent to which each of the four strategies defined by the acculturation model—assimilation, integration, separation, and marginalization—emerged from the social experiences of international students during their first year of college. The results revealed that all 10 participants shared the experiences of separation, either voluntary or involuntary. For seven students in the sample, the freshman year was characterized by either willing or unwilling integration. The strategy of assimilation, both freely pursued and imposed, was reported by six students. The least evidence was recorded for the pattern of voluntary or involuntary marginalization, which emerged from the experiences of four respondents.

Author Biography

Masha Krsmanovic, University of Southern Mississippi, USA

MASHA KRSMANOVIC holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Policy Studies from the University of Central Florida. She is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her preferred pronouns are she, her, and hers. Her research focuses on international students' academic transition and success, social and cultural adjustment, first-year students, international student mobility and access, culturally responsive teaching, and course design.


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How to Cite

Krsmanovic, M. (2020). “I Was New and I Was Afraid”: The Acculturation Strategies Adopted by International First-Year Undergraduate Students in the United States. Journal of International Students, 10(4), 954–975. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v10i4.1160



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