Getting along with new foods is not easy for international students

Quang-Loc Nguyen
SP Jain School of Global Management (Sydney, NSW 2141, Australia)

January 19, 2023

Food is an essential part of human life, not only serving as sustenance for the body but also as emotions, memories, and lifestyles. For those who have moved to a different country, the foods of their home are more than just food.

As the 2023 Lunar New Year is approaching, people in countries like China and Vietnam are preparing and enjoying their traditional new year dishes. Holiday foods can be deeply connected to a person’s most profound memories – their childhood, culture, or personal relationships – even when they live far away from home [1].

Figure: The last author of the paper while making bánh chung (square cake) – a Vietnamese traditional New Year food item (©2016 QH Vuong)

In a recent study published in the journal World (ISSN: 2673-4060), Jin et al. examined food stress due to acculturation in students on an international university campus [2]. Interestingly, the authors of this article have Chinese and Vietnamese origins, but they all have studied and worked abroad: the USA, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and Belgium.

The study site was the campus of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Oita, Japan – a highly multicultural environment. In such an environment, the study showed that there were no significant differences between domestic and international students when it came to perceived difficulties in adjusting to new foods. The findings also show that female students found the dietary acculturation process to be more difficult compared to male students. This gender difference was, however, moderated by social connectedness.

Overall, the authors suggest that international universities should organize more cultural exchange events to provide students with practical information for dietary acculturation. In this regard, facilitating social support and connections is especially helpful for female students.

This study was a collaborative research project applying the Bayesian Mindsponge Framework (BMF) [3]. Additionally, it is worth noting that 4 out of 7 authors are females, and the authors have diverse personal experiences in acculturation.

The paper is the second successful completion of a collaborative project under the AISDL SM3D Science Portal’s community-coaching initiative, following the philosophy of: i) manageable low-cost implementation [4]; and, ii) highest research standards in openness, transparency and integrity [5]. The initiative has been pursued to address the emerging challenges and pressures on young scholars (ECRs) in a fast-changing academic publishing landscape [6].


[1] Van Cooten M. (2022, December 24). Holiday foods hold some of our strongest memories. CBC.

[2] Jin R, et al. (2023). A Gender Study of Food Stress and Implications for International Students Acculturation. World, 4(1), 80-94.

[3] Vuong QH, La VP, Nguyen MH. (2022). The mindsponge and BMF analytics for innovative thinking in social sciences and humanities. De Gruyter.

[4] Vuong QH. (2018). The (ir)rational consideration of the cost of science in transition economies. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(1), 5.

[5] Vuong QH. (2020). Reform retractions to make them more transparent. Nature, 582(7811), 149.

[6] Vuong QH. (2019). Breaking barriers in publishing demands a proactive attitude. Nature Human Behaviour, 3(10), 1034.