The number of international students in tertiary education has soared in recent decades, driven by rising student demand and countries competing to boost their economic and human capital. International students are often considered "ideal" migrants, yet they are frequently overlooked in the integration literature despite having the same vulnerabilities as other immigrants. This exploratory study investigates what integration means according to 16 Indian students who studied at Canadian postsecondary institutions. Via interviews and a survey, it found participants had a multicultural understanding of integration that emphasizes sociopolitical and, secondarily, economic dimensions. This understanding differs from dominant conceptualizations of multicultural integration as it underscores the role of the immigrant in being open to other cultures, and considers "horizontal" processes of integration to be as important as "vertical" factors such as immigration policies. Participants' adjustment strategies and trajectories were affected by their views on what integration should mean; their existing economic, social and cultural capital; and their original motivations for moving to Canada. Highlighting how integration is highly context-dependent, this study reveals processes that are commonly overlooked by theories and measures of integration.
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