Communities of Practice and Acculturation: How International Students in American Colleges Use Social Media to Manage Homesickness

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Michael Schwartz
Kikuko Omori


Homesickness, a distinctly human phenomenon, is common among college students, domestic or international and is the focus of this research. In this study, we focused on international students in American institutions to better understand the relationship among homesickness, acculturation, and social media use. Through focus group interviews, international students shared their lived experiences of homesickness, use of social media, and acculturation. Four themes (i.e.1. Social media as conflict, 2. Social media as distraction, 3. Social media as frenemy, and 4. Social media as functional) surfaced in the data to describe the relationships among social media use, homesickness, and acculturation. Our participants used social media mainly to communicate with people back home when they felt homesick, yet the use of social media did not help their homesickness. The results are discussed through the lens of communities of practice. The researchers offer practical implications for institutions and people directly involved with international and study-abroad education programs.


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