The Antecedents and Outcomes of Host National Connectedness: A Study of International Students in New Zealand
While research on international students’ acculturative outcomes typically indicates that they generally thrive, one common source of struggle, noted by practitioners, researchers, educators, and the students themselves, is their inability to form connections with locals. Situated within the stress and coping and cultural learning frameworks of acculturation research, this study (N = 1527) examines the antecedents and outcomes of host national connectedness (HNC) among international students in New Zealand. Results indicate that both individual (age, gender, English language proficiency, and the motivation to belong) and contextual (cultural distance and perceived cultural inclusion) predict international students ability to connect with New Zealanders. Contextual variables explain additional variance in HNC above and beyond that explained by the individual variables. Results also provide support for the important role of connections in overall adjustment outcomes, as host national connectedness mediates the relationship between cultural distance, cultural inclusion in the classroom, and English language proficiency and both socio-cultural and psychological adaptation. Hence, host national connectedness serves as the mechanism through which international students attain positive psycho-social adjustment during the acculturation process. Applications for international students, institutions, and policy makers are discussed.