Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dough Devore

Second Advisor

Whitney D'Amico

Third Advisor

Lisa Simon


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenology study was to explore the lived experiences of international students’ perceptions regarding the types of support they received to adapt to a new culture experience and barriers to their successful adaptation to a new cultural experience while enrolled in a southern California university.


Qualitative research was the methodology used for this study because it was the approach best suited to gain a better understanding of the phenomena of international students’ lived experiences. The present study involved a qualitative design with a phenomenological inquiry approach. The technique of using semi-structured interviews is a method that allows a researcher to have an in-depth interaction with the participants of the study.

Findings: The findings indicate international students perceive they receive support to adapt to a new experience cultural experience as well as encounter barriers to their successful adaptation to a new cultural experience while enrolled in a southern California university.

Conclusions: Using qualitative research methods, this study explored international students’ perceptions regarding their adaption to the new cultural experiences at a southern California university. The findings indicated that international students ’ socializing with local students has provided the main type of support to their adaptation at a California university. Although the university is usually the first place where resources are provided, international advisors and instructors were regarded as the second source of support to adapt to the cultural experience. The series of barriers faced by international students can be enumerated into three categories: access to resources, backlash from local students, and difficulty with understanding communication in English.

Recommendations: The results of this study indicate universities should develop formalized strategic support plans for international students. Secondly, universities should provide diversity and inclusion training for students, faculty, and staff to provide greater awareness about the experience of international students. Thus, as demonstrated in this study, having a better understanding of international students’ support systems and challenges, can lead to faculty and staff members recognizing students’ needs. International students can be effectively offered supportive campus resources, services, and social activities. Universities in Southern California and in the US can be prepared to meet student’s needs not only academically, socially, but also culturally.