Intercultural Identity and Intercultural Experiences of American Students in China

Mei Tian, J A Lowe

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51 Citations (SciVal)


The number of international students in China is increasing rapidly, but their experiences in China remain largely unknown. This article reports an intensive longitudinal multiple case study that explores eight American students’ intercultural experiences and the impacts of such experiences on individual identity during their study in a Chinese university in 2010. Data come from monthly interviews and diaries that the students kept. Findings support Kim’s depiction of the processes by which intercultural identity emerges, notably the stress–adaptation–growth cycle and the concurrent processes of acculturation and deculturation. These findings reveal the journey of participants from cultural naivety to an emergent intercultural awareness and cultural critical capacity. Despite considerable ignorance and misunderstanding about China as an exotic “other” at the beginning of the program, all participants underwent some degree of cultural identity shift toward the more “open-ended.. self–other orientation” of Kim’s “intercultural identity.”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-297
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Issue number3
Early online date19 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • China
  • intercultural experience
  • intercultural identity
  • international exchange program
  • study abroad


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