Document Type


Publication Date



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology


International students face multiple challenges due to cross-cultural transition. Physical activity plays a significant role in maintaining health and well-being for college students. Little research has explored how international students’ physical activity interacts with their acculturation. Using a longitudinal qualitative approach with individual interviews and non-participant observation, the current study examined how physical activity interacted with new international students’ transition in the United States. Nine first-year international students who engaged in weekly physical activity were enrolled. Each individual was interviewed twice,in the middle (i.e., Jan and Feb) and at the end of their first academic year (i.e., May and June). Three months of field work (between the first and second interviews) was applied to capture international students’ physical activity experience. Data were analysed using an inductive approach. Results suggested that international students’ cross-adjustment occurred academically and socially, and physical activity played a role in both areas. Physical activity benefited international students’ transition by creating social opportunities, maintaining cultural identity and facilitating intercultural communication. Practical implications, limitations and future research recommendations are discussed.

Source Citation

Li, S. & Zizzi, S.(2017) The influence of physicalactivity on international graduate students’ cross-cultural adjustment: a qualitative longitudinal study. Graduate Journal of Sport, Exercise & Physical Education Research, 4: 43-59.



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