Experience and exposure: the influence of university spaces on international students’ well-being : socialization and feelings of isolation and loneliness

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shima Talebian (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Amanda Gale

Abstract: This study aims to explore the experiences of international students at UNCG concerning their utilization of campus spaces, encounters with isolation and loneliness, and factors influencing their social interactions. The primary objective is to pinpoint and propose design interventions for university spaces, supported by evidence, that effectively enhance student experiences by fostering meaningful social connections and reducing the prevalence of isolation and loneliness. The study employs a qualitative methodology, employing online questionnaires and observations to amass data from UNCG's international student body. Participant recruitment occurred through the UNCG International Program Center via email, ensuring comprehensive inclusivity. To bolster participation, Starbucks gift cards were provided as incentives. A total of 36 international students participated, providing their insights after granting informed consent. The research findings illuminate the design factors that shape social interaction among international students at UNCG. Participants emphasized the furniture arrangement, cultural elements, and greenery in crafting inviting spaces for socialization. While perceptions of the campus environment exhibited variability, certain students expressed dissatisfaction, highlighting the need to enhance its role in fostering connections and alleviating isolation and loneliness. The data underscores the importance of tailoring spaces to accommodate diverse preferences, with an emphasis on functional layouts, furniture, and interior design to facilitate meaningful social engagement. Moreover, the study identifies a preference (58%) for academically oriented interactions and intermittent experiences of loneliness, underscoring the critical role of well-designed spaces in addressing these challenges.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
International students, Isolation, Loneliness, Socialization, University spaces, Well-being
University of North Carolina at Greensboro $x Foreign students
University of North Carolina at Greensboro $x Buildings
College environment $z North Carolina $z Greensboro
Social interaction $z North Carolina $z Greensboro

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