Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D.
Beatriz Padilla, Ph.D.
Jamie Sommer, Ph.D.
Agency, Homemaking, International students, Transnationalism
Over the last two decades, the population of international students in the world has significantly increased. More and more students from diverse backgrounds cross national borders to study. The observed increase in numbers and diversity has led to an uptick in scholarly research that focuses on the adaptation and experiences of international students. Most of these studies, particularly in the US, are informed by the acculturation theories and assimilationist frameworks of the 1900s. Also, an exclusive focus is placed on the host country, with few studies acknowledging the impact of the origin country on the international student experience. Such approaches limit the capacity to understand and attend to the complex problems international students face. They further overlook the agency of international students: the various strategies they use, individually and as a group, to navigate the barriers they face in integrating. Emerging research recognizes the agency of international students in their integration. The current study adopts a transnational framework in exploring how African students integrate through their homemaking practices. Analyzing data from 12 in-depth interviews with African students in the US and 54 blog entries from two websites that write on international students’ experiences, I compare how home and integration are constructed and perceived at the individual and institutional levels. The blogs present an institutional narrative that perceives the home through its physicality and materiality. On the other hand, my interview participants talk of home as encompassing the domestic practices and interpersonal networks that connect them to their origin countries while also creating an attachment to the host country. I argue that while the blogs advocate for an assimilationist approach to homemaking and integration, where international students completely take up American values and norms, African students engage in transnational practices and networks in integrating.
Scholar Commons Citation
Opoku, Alphonse O., "Making A Home Away from Home: A Qualitative Study of African Students’ Practices of Integration in the United States" (2021). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.