The encounter with self through the process of cross-cultural transition: The perspective of Japanese women who study in higher education institutions in the United States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Richard E. Pearson


Self, Cross-cultural transition, Japanese, Women, Higher education

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling | Psychology | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


This is a qualitative study that investigates the experiences of Japanese women who study in higher education institutions in the United States. Twenty-eight Japanese women who attended colleges and universities in the United States were interviewed. The findings of this study illustrate the process of self-actualization and personal growth that participants underwent during their transition from Japan to the United States. Through the cross-cultural transition process, participants experienced the following kinds of self-actualization: (a) validation of the decision to pursue individuality, (b) an increased appreciation of Japanese cultural identity, and (c) re-integration of Japanese cultural values and American cultural values in defining their own individuality. Their self-growth experience differed between the academic context and the social context.

The findings of this study also indicated that aspects of the pre-departure phase influence participants' perception of the cross-cultural transitional experience. Pre-departure motivations, expectations, and personal values influenced participants' sojourn experience in the United States. A variety of underlying factors (cultural, societal, personal) interacted with each other and influenced participants' motivations to study in the United States. The expectations and personal values that participants developed prior to their departure served as a filter through which they interpreted and responded to their experience in the United States.

Based on these findings, implications for student support staff and counseling practice are discussed.


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