This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

There’s no place like home: University campus-student interaction to promote sense of belonging among first year international students




Rakestraw, Sarah

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Consumer and Design Sciences


Acclimating to a new environment can take a mental and emotional toll on anybody; compounding that change in an environment with a cultural change can intensify the toll. This study explores the initial perceptions and experiences of international students during their first semester on an American college campus. Specifically, this study explores the importance of spaces designed for social engagement and the impact of the design of those spaces on international student’s transition to the college campus. The purpose of this study is to gain understanding of firsthand experiences within these spaces on a Southeastern college campus, with regards to social connectedness, sense of community, and place attachment. Increasing the knowledge of how the design of campus influences these culturally diverse students can lead to more inclusive and well-planned design for all students. Findings from this research support thoughtful and purposeful design practices to facilitate quality connection and engagement among students on college campus. Understanding of the ways in which a space communicates with an occupant to inform perceptions of belonging and inclusion can lead to high quality experiences, and increased place attachment.