Recreation, intercultural friendship, and international students’ adaptation to college by region of origin

Chris R. Glass
Edwin Gómez
Alfredo Urzua


This study examined the extent to which recreation participation, intercultural friendship, and adaptation to college in the U.S. vary by an international student’s region of origin. Researchers analyzed data from a quantitative cross-sectional survey instrument (n = 298) using measures from the Ethnicity and Public Recreation Participation (EPRP) Model and the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ). Results indicate constraints to active participation in recreation and leisure activities exist, and are a prominent aspect of intercultural friendship formation and adaptation to college. As expected, constraints to recreation were negatively associated with friendships with host national peers and all measures of student adaptation to college. Constraints to recreation existed for non-European international students, and Eastern/Southeastern Asia reported more constraints than students from Southern Asia and the Middle East/North Africa. Students from non- European countries reported more friendships with co-national peers and fewer friendships with host national peers. Students from non-European countries reported less social adaptation and attachment to college than students from European countries. Results affirm that an international student’s region of origin may moderate access to the informal culture of an institution through recreation participation, thus affecting patterns of intercultural friendship formation and adaptation to college. Researchers discuss implications for further research and propose interventions to enhance international students’ social and academic adaptation to college.