Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Mark P. Orbe

Second Advisor

Dr. Julie Apker

Third Advisor

Dr. Ewa Urban


Third Culture Building, cultural contracts, international students, intercultural relationships, university sponsored programs

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


International students studying in the United States encounter a number of challenges that affect their ability to achieve their academic and social goals. These changes and acculturative pressures often influence their psychosocial wellbeing and factor into their satisfaction in their experiences abroad. Forming relationships with host-national students aids international students in their adjustment to life in the U. S. and influences their satisfaction and success both in and out of the classroom. This qualitative study analyzes third culture relationships as well as the challenges to their formation and the negotiations necessary for the relationship’s continued survival. This project explores the experiences of six international/host-national student dyads through individual and joint interviews. Subsequent analyses of this data generated a more substantial understanding of third culture building in international/host-national student relationships and the negotiations that occur as individuals learn of another culture and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Data not only provides further support of the third culture building model, but also gives insight into the experiences of students who interact in university sponsored cross-cultural programs, and how these experiences might be enhanced to facilitate more cross-cultural dialogue.