Is immigration a culture? A qualitative approach to exploring immigrant student experiences within the United States.

The present study investigated the lived immigration experiences of 10 students enrolled in or graduated from a university (i.e., bachelor’s degree) in the United States using a phenomenological approach. Participants represented 9 different countries, cultures of origin or backgrounds, and self-identified as either immigrant or first-generation American. The present research contributes to current literature by exploring the experiences of immigrants across ethnicities and cultures of origin. After survey completion and focus group meetings with participants, the following two themes emerged as findings of the present study: (a) immigrant culture, and (b) collectivist culture. The immigrant culture theme indicates that immigrants from different countries and cultures of origin experienced commonalities in their journeys of immigration. Findings also suggest that the immigrant experience and background impacted decision-making processes in college for immigrant and first-generation American students. Implications such as approaching immigration as a culture to improve conceptualization processes of immigrant experiences and educational and counseling services for immigrant students are discussed. Additionally, the application of the ecological systems theory model with immigrant students is discussed for support and as a suggestion for future research to serve as a potential intervention tool. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)