Recognizing the lack of comprehensive academic study concerning the life experiences of unaccompanied Korean adolescents overseas, this study inquired into many aspects of the daily life of the young sojourners. In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of their living experiences, the present study set broad research questions: What do unaccompanied adolescents experience in host homes, schools, and communities in the United States? How do they build personal relationships with people in the United States? How do they deal with new experiences in different sociocultural environments? A total of 31 Korean students in Oklahoma City, Boston, and Dallas participated in in-depth interviews which were analyzed under the methodological guidelines of the grounded-theory method. The analysis of the data revealed two main themes, “unstable personal relationships” and “strange sociocultural environments,” which shed light on how the young students in the study were both psychologically and socially isolated from people and communities in the United States. Each theme was supplemented by several subthemes that characterize the detailed experiences of the participants. As a consequence of those living conditions, they spent a large amount of time in their own rooms by themselves and tended to romanticize their past experiences and relationships in Korea. This study also found that this context was closely associated with their exclusive pattern of mediated communication with people in Korea.


Unaccompanied KoreanAdolescents, Precollege International Students, Sociocultural Environments, Personal Relationships, Qualitative Research

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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