Acculturation and food habits: Lessons to be learned
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Journal: British Food Journal
Purpose: There is limited research on international students' acculturation with respect to food habits and the food environment. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate the extent of international (European and Asian) students' food acculturation in the United Kingdom. The paper seeks to report the findings from a qualitative study of the adjustment experience of a group of postgraduate international students at a university in the South of England. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with a group of postgraduate international students (European and Asian) (n=10) at a university in southern England. Findings: A "push-pull" model towards food choice is proposed where adjustment is described as a dynamic and multifaceted process fluctuating as a result of individual, cultural and external factors. A longing for home was apparent which could be alleviated by paying greater attention to food orientation. Practical implications: If adjustment is to be assisted, understanding the complexity of the process will help determine intervention strategies to support international students such as organising extracurricular activities in the form of tasting sessions or cooking clubs during orientation week which coincidently will also allow opportunity for group interaction and familiarisation. There should be an understanding on the part of all service providers and in so doing provide a climate for positive learning. Originality/value: The paper shows that adjustment can be a stressful experience, where the role of food in student acculturation is under researched. Understanding the complexity of the process will help to determine the intervention strategies to be used by those offering pastoral or social support. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.