Response paper from “An Exploratory Study of Perceived Discrimination and Homesickness” Poyrazli

Response paper from “An Exploratory Study of Perceived Discrimination and Homesickness”
Poyrazli & Lopez (2007) examines group differences in perception of racial and ethnic discrimination, its effects, and victims in the United States, particularly in colleges. The United States is an attractive place that pulls International students towards studying in the country. However, these students go through a significant period of adjusting to the new culture and university system. This period includes academic, cultural, emotional, and social adjustment. The authors suggest that International students face cultural shock, which leads to feelings of homesickness, hopelessness, loss and rejection, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and alienation. These feelings negatively affect students and can increase difficulties in adjusting to the new environment. Non-White students studying in U.S colleges also face similar challenges, but to a lesser extent than international students.
Another problem that college students also face is ethnic and racial discrimination. Non-White and foreign students are at more significant risks of experiencing racial and ethnic discrimination. When combined with homesickness, racial discrimination produces negative feelings, including anxiety, depression, and loneliness, which affect individual behavior, physical and psychological well-being, and academic performance. The authors found that students experiencing homesickness reported high scores on physical complaints, mood, and cognitive functioning and lower scores on adjustment to the new environment. For instance, homesick students exhibited poorer emotions and higher cognitive failures, including poor concentration and memory. Notably, non-White and international students find trouble adjusting to the college environment due to cultural shock.
The authors also examined the influence of age, gender, social support, English proficiency, and years of residence on homesickness and cultural shock. They found that cultural shock and homesickness affect some students more than others, depending on these factors. For instance, international students from countries with cultures almost similar to American cultures experience less cultural shock and homesickness than those from widely varied cultures. Consequently, they have less social difficulty and are more likely to interact with host students. Consistent with cultural variation between sojourners’ countries and the host country is language differences. International students who speak English fluently, like European students, experience less stress while adjusting to the campus environment than those who speak English with an accent. Also, ethnicity and race predicated the level of students’ perceived discrimination and homesickness. Students from more visible racial or ethnic groups especially non-European are more likely to encounter discrimination than European students. Age also predicted perceived discrimination and homesickness. Mainly, younger foreign students are subject to higher homesickness levels and have difficulty coping with it than older ones. Although older students reported less homesickness and ease of coming with the experience, they reported higher levels of perceived discrimination. The authors also found that female international students are more proficient in English than their male counterparts. This could be attributed to the gender-role socialization process where females establish relationships quickly, increasing their opportunities to learn English. Although they found no correlation between academic achievements and homesickness or perceived discrimination, results showed that English proficiency predicts academic performance.
I agree with the authors that race and ethnicity predict the level of perceived discrimination among international students. This situation is really existing because most international and non-White students studying in U.S colleges have been treated with prejudice because of their racial or ethnic membership. For instance, Chinese students, who happen to be the majority of international students, experience higher acculturative or adjustment stress and poor physical and mental health due to higher levels of perceived discrimination. According to the authors, Chinese immigrants and Chinese American students are more likely to be alienated or separated from mainstream culture. Similarly, African and South American international students perceive more prejudice and discrimination than European international students. Discrimination is a significant life stressor that is harmful to the physical, mental, psychological, and emotional well-being of minority students. It also affects the adjustment process, presenting difficulties, especially a lack of social connectedness with individuals from the majority group. Poyrazli & Lopez confirms that racial discrimination predicted higher cognitive failures, psychological distress, and adjustment difficulties.
Another interesting point that I learned from the article is the association between social connectedness and adjustment to a new culture. International students who can easily interact with others or participate in social activities predict higher levels of adjustment. Consequently, these students are less affected by perceived discrimination, which helps in lowering adjustment difficulties. The importance of social connectedness in enhancing coping ability can be explained by increased awareness of social relations and the ability to manage emotions. This means that international students willing to interact with host students find easier time in their new environment and possibly experience lower adjustment difficulties. Poyrazli & Lopez also recognize the influence of the socialization process on English proficiency. They point out that female international students demonstrated higher levels of English proficiency than male students due to their ease of establishing close relationships with others. Overall, this article is well-written with fascinating facts on predictors of perceived discrimination and homesickness among non-White and international students.
Poyrazli, S., & Lopez, M. D. (2007). An exploratory study of perceived discrimination and homesickness: A comparison of international students and American students. The Journal of Psychology, 141(3), 263-280.