The majority of food- and culture-related studies of international students have focused on their consumption of specific ingredients or types of foods, or their attitude toward a local culture’s traditional cuisine. However, the cultural perspective remains under-researched, particularly regarding the cultural factors that influence this adjustment. By mitigating the experienced culture shock, these factors may lead to a higher level of adjustment to the local cuisine and, subsequently, to the local culture. Twenty semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with international students and analyzed using inductive thematic content analysis. Food specific aspects (fresh ingredients, processed foods, eating out) and socio-economic factors (available budget and prior intercultural experience) were included to the analysis. The novelty and contribution of this study is in separating the factors influencing the adjustment to local food and culture into two main categories. The passive factors, which were difficult or impossible to change during the study program, entailed four main themes that may support adjustment: socioeconomic background, food-related convictions, encountered positive word-of-mouth, and the contribution of the institution. The active factors, which could be controlled, also comprised four main themes: connection to the local culture (before moving abroad), immersion in the culture through food, experimenting with traditional food, and personal development.
Malota, E., & Mucsi, A. (2021). Tasting a new culture: Adjustment to a foreign culture through traditional local cuisine. Food Culture & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/15528014.2021.2001619