Chinese students who pursue their higher education in America benefit from the high quality of education in this country, which includes a richness and diversity of subjects, facility of research resources, and high academic standards. At the same time, they are under pressure, which results from culture shock and includes fear of failing, the language barrier, lack of class participation, homesickness, and isolation from their host culture, resulting in mental problems such as depression, frustration, and students dropping out. This study reveals the negative influence of Chinese cultural values on these students in American higher education by making use of interviews, participant observations, and document analysis, which evidence Chinese students’ dependence on their family, the Confucian middle way, the concept of “mianzi,” and filial piety. These findings can help international administrators better understand how to assess and resolve the problems that Chinese students face, thereby minimizing cultural clash and the difficulties of acclimating to a new environment. By addressing these problems, American universities will be better able to accommodate the incoming multi-cultural students, the majority of whom are Chinese, and bridge the gap that separates them from their American counterparts in order to enhance the learning environment for all students.


Higher Education, Chinese Students, Chinese Cultural Influences, Culture Shock, Case Study

Author Bio(s)

Min Wang is a Ph.D. candidate majoring in Second Language Acquisition in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at The University of Alabama. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: mwang35@crimson.ua.edu.


I am grateful to my professor, Dr. Aaron Kuntz for his valuable suggestions on this project. I am also thankful to the TQR Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Ronald Chenail and editor Doles Jadotte for their insightful feedback. My deepest appreciation goes to my three participants in this inquiry.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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