Acculturative hassles and strategies: Relationship between study abroad related depression, anxiety, and stress

2014 IJRSP – Volume 3 Issue 5


Ching, Gregory S.*
Graduate Institute of Educational Leadership and Development, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan, ROC (;

Chao, Pei-Ching
Graduate Institute of Educational Leadership and Development, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan, ROC (;

Lien, Wei-Chih
Department of Applied Foreign Languages, Lunghwa University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, ROC (


Within the 2013 OECD annual education report, statistics have shown that there are already around 4.3 million tertiary level students studying outside their home country. Yet, this number is expected to increase in the years to come. However, parallel to the increasing number of study abroad opportunities are the rising number of problematic mental health issues of these international students. In Taiwan, similar trends of increasing number of international students are also observed. A more distinct Taiwan characteristic is the presence of four foreign student groups, namely: international students (IS), mainland Chinese students (MCS), Hong Kong and Macau students (HKM), and the overseas Chinese students (OCS). With the goal of developing Taiwan higher education institutions into strong venues for study abroad, it is quite important that these students are well taken care of. Therefore, understanding the students’ mental health situation is a key step in achieving this purpose. In light of this issue, the current paper shall present the findings of a study focusing on the different student groups’ acculturative hassles and strategies and the corresponding relationship with their level of depression, anxiety, and stress. Focus group interviews were conducted to gather the various acculturative hassles, while a revised acculturative strategies survey based on Barry’s (2001) East Asian Acculturation Measure (EAAM) was used to determine the students’ reactions and behaviors during study abroad. In addition, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) was also administered to measure the students’ level of depression, anxiety, and stress. A total of 888 responds were collected from an online survey that lasted for three weeks. Factor analyses were accomplished resulting in the formation of three major groups of acculturative hassles, namely: adverse feelings, struggles, and communication (language) difficulties. Statistical results show that the HKM scored highest in the three DASS scales for depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, OCS is the most marginalized and separated student group among the foreign students. Lastly, IS seems to have the most communication difficulties, while all the students moderately struggles with their academic related hassles. Additional, implications and recommendations are also provided.

Keywords: study abroad; acculturation strategy; hassle; overseas Chinese students; mainland Chinese students; international students



*Corresponding Author