Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Counseling

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Phillip Waalkes, Ph.D.


Emily Brown, Ph.D.

M. Lee Nelson, Ph.D.

Susan Kashubeck-West, Ph.D.


Third culture kids (TCKs) spend their childhood and adolescence outside of their home countries. Because of their unique backgrounds, TCKs and adult TCKs face challenges including identity development, low self-esteem, lack of connection with their home countries, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, adjustment disorder, and others. Although the number of TCKs is increasing due to globalization, this population has been understudied. Moreover, most existing research has focused on TCKs in Western countries. Few researchers have studied Confucian Asian adult TCKs; that is, adult TCKs from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and others. Confucian Asian countries have collectivistic cultures that value community harmony and cohesiveness above individuality. TCKs and adult TCKs of Confucian Asian descent face unique challenges. The present study focused on how Confucian Asian adult TCKs develop their sense of belonging in college. Using a phenomenological method, 11 individuals identifying as Confucian Asian adult TCKs were asked about their experiences of international mobile lifestyles to identify their struggles and the support systems higher education institutions can offer. There were five interview questions, and the data were analyzed to exact the essence of the reported phenomenon among the participants, which brought more knowledge about their sense of belonging and to learn more about the shared phenomenon among this population.