Chinese International Students’ Coping Strategies, Social Support Resources in Response to Academic Stressors: Does Heritage Culture or Host Context Matter?

  • Chun CaoEmail author
  • Chang Zhu
  • Qian Meng


This current study qualitatively explored Chinese international students’ coping strategies and social support resources in dealing with academic stressors. A consensual qualitative research (CQR) methodology was used on analyzing data gathered from semi-structured interviews. We identified an array of academic stressors and differentiated them according to the frequency labels (from general to rare). Academic competency, academic culture shock, academic resources, intercultural communication and pressure were found to be the main sources of Chinese students’ academic stressors. In response, Chinese international students tended to utilize different coping strategies and social support resources to deal with academic stressors. Specifically, they generally employed problem-coping strategies to deal with competency-related challenges, but more preferred forbearance coping for other types of academic stressors. Furthermore, co-national peers emerged as the primary source of Chinese students’ social support in academic learning, followed by support from multi-national students, university/tutors, and host students, respectively. The results obtained from the data implied that it was the heritage culture, instead of the host academic context, that strongly affected Chinese students’ behavioral features in class and their responses to academic stressors. We provided practical implications for the host university, as well as interventions at the individual and institutional levels.


Chinese student Coping strategy Social support Academic stressor Culture shock 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northeast Normal UniversityChangchun CityChina
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Changchun University of Science and TechnologyChangchunChina

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