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Cultural Transitions: The Surviving and Thriving of Single Chinese International Female Doctoral Students in the United States

Liu, Shali (2023) Cultural Transitions: The Surviving and Thriving of Single Chinese International Female Doctoral Students in the United States. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study explores single Chinese international female doctoral students’ cultural transition experiences. Instead of only focusing on their academic lives, this study focuses on the completeness and integrity of these women’s lives in aspects of academics, social relationships, marriage expectations, and religious environments. Nine participants were enrolled, and each received two interviews that were primarily conducted in Mandarin Chinese. The use of their native language was to facilitate communication and reduce language barriers. I identified these women’s surviving stories in academia and interpersonal relationships, such as challenges and regrets, as well as thriving stories and their happiness, such as individual development and support from others. The result also uncovered the impact of gendered labels, including “leftover” women and “third gender”, and marriage expectations from different socio-ecological systems. Their faith lives and experiences of transitioning from a predominantly atheist country to a country of diverse religions were also explored. Part of the research also involved sending the participants direct citations and paraphrases from their own interviews to check whether the descriptions accurately reflect their sharing (Rehman & Azam Roomi, 2012). The participants’ engagement in this research contributes to making their voices heard.
The vivid stories of these women aim to break social stereotypes and misunderstandings and raise the awareness of the impact of gendered structure and cultural pattern on these women. It encourages the society to provide support for this minority group as international doctoral students and as single women. Moreover, ecological system theory helps analyze the interactions between these women and both their host country and native country. The result reveals that the influence of persons and social media in China is far reaching, although physically located in a different environment. It also facilitates the recognition of individual independence and the impact of significant others and environmental factors in different aspects and stages of life. Additionally, transformative learning theory could make exploration and building up confidence of new role more visible under disorienting dilemmas (Mezirow, 2000, p. 22).


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Liu, Shalishl104@pitt.edushl104
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPorter, Maureen
Committee MemberMcClure,
Committee MemberCohen, Frayda
Committee MemberWeddle, Hayley
Date: 21 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 April 2023
Approval Date: 21 September 2023
Submission Date: 16 August 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 284
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cultural transitions; Single Chinese international female doctoral students; Academics; Social relationships; Marriage expectations; Religious environments
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 20:48
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 20:48


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