Friendship Networks and Satisfaction with Life Among International Exchange Students in a Korean University

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Keun-Young PARK, Yonsei University, South Korea
Jeong Won CHOI, The Seoul Institute, South Korea
Jeehun KIM, Inha University, South Korea
South Korea, which has been one of major origin countries for international students especially in the United States over the last several decades, has become one of preferred destination countries in Asia in recent years. The number of international students in Korean universities totaled 84,891 in 2014. Undergraduate exchange students show much more diversity in terms of students’ backgrounds such as origin countries, languages, religious and other cultural backgrounds. So far many studies on international students’ life experiences have examined students’ satisfaction levels or their well-being, focusing on the number of local friends that they make in the new land.

This study aims to explore the relationship between friendship networks and satisfaction with life among international exchange students in a Korean university. Using a survey (N = 128), which includes approximately 70.8% of all the exchange students program participants in a selected university, this study applies the cohesive blocking method (Moody and White 2003) to measure the extent to which individuals are embedded in the exchange student community. The analysis comes up with two important findings. First, while the number of new local friends (i.e. Koreans) that these international students made is an important factor in estimating their satisfaction of life, the number of new non-Korean international student friends also has significant influence on their satisfaction of life. Second, in estimating students’ satisfaction with life, the embeddedness in overall international student community is a better predictor than the number of new friends that they made. Based on these findings, this study will discuss the implications of structural position in friendship networks.