*Thavamalar Thuraisingam & Parvinder Kaur Hukam Singh
Malaysia has had a degree of success in establishing itself as a regional education hub in recent years and private higher education institutions are significant players that dominate the international student market because more than 50% of the international student population in Malaysia is enrolled in these institutions. The phenomenon of adjustment has not been studied extensively in the Malaysian setting. Therefore, this study sets out to investigate the essence of socio-cultural and academic adjustment experiences of international students in an established private higher education institution. The informants of this study comprised 21 international students from 7 countries. A multiple case study design was adopted. The semi-structured interview method of data collection was employed. The interviews were then recorded and transcribed verbatim. The themes were then captured in phenomenologically sensitive descriptions which resonate with the experiences of the international students – of strangeness, expectations and disillusionment, of divides and bonds, of perceptions, prejudice and culture, of challenges and achievements and of social support and neglect. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions were used to explore cross-case study differences in adjustment experiences and the dissonance they create for the individual and institution.
Keywords: Academic adjustment, international students, phenomenology, sociocultural adjusments