Monday, March 30, 2015

URSP Student Samantha Brown Researches International Students, Their Living Situations, and Their Levels of Perceived Social Support and Stress

My research project has to do with the concepts of social support and mental stress among international students at George Mason University. Specifically, I am interested in the association (if any) between international students’ living situation and their levels of perceived social support and perceived stress. Students who befriend nationals of the country in which they are studying often adjust easier and undergo less acculturative stress. Because of this, my hypothesis is that international students at GMU who live with at least one American will experience more social support and less stress.

My involvement in the global community at Mason sparked my interest in this project. As I have participated in many international organizations and lived with exchange students, I have repeatedly watched my new shy, nervous friends become confident, outgoing people in a matter of months. I am interested in researching this process of change and why its seems so much easier for some than it does for others. This research project also relates to my long term goals as a Community Heath major and potential future health researcher. I am fascinated by research in this field as it constantly redefines our ideas of what is “good for us”.
So far, my week to week work with this project has been more logistical than I had originally imagined. Because I am surveying human subjects for my research, a large portion of my time has been dedicated to receiving approval from the Institutional Review Board- an organization whose existence I was not even aware of a few months ago. This includes a lengthy application and (in my case…) many revisions. But good news- my project was finally approved last week! This means I can begin to administer my survey and collect results in the months to come. This week I have learned just how to do that using the SurveyMonkey database. Though this was something I had originally planned on doing months ago, I am happy to be learning more about the unique process of research and am excited to hopefully begin seeing some results!