Research has documented cultural adjustment as an important issue influencing international students and other sojourners in their success abroad (Foster, 1962; Lysgaard, 1955; Oberg, 1960; Smalley, 1963). Few studies, however, have investigated particular variables influencing the cultural adjustment process of ESL learners enrolled in intensive English programs (IEPs). This mixed method study was designed to better understand the individual complexity of IEP learners' cultural adjustment by looking for patterns of variables that aid or hinder these students' experiences. Using the Culture Shock Questionnaire (CSQ), Index of Social Sojourners Support Survey (ISSS), and language-specific focus groups, this study investigated the individual cultural adjustment experiences of Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish-speaking students enrolled in an intensive English program attached to a large private university in the United States. Statistically significant results were found when comparing students' demographic variables with the survey results. Students who identified themselves as having high levels of social support were more likely to experience low levels of culture shock. While, female students were more likely to experience higher levels of culture shock compared to male students. Additionally, qualitative data gathered from the open-ended survey questions and focus groups revealed three common variables that appeared to aid as well as hinder the students' cultural adjustment process: social support, self, and environment. Findings from this research have implications for the development of cultural adjustment training materials which might aid ESL students attending intensive English programs in the United States in their cultural adjustment process.



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cultural adjustment, acculturation, culture shock, IEP, ESL