This paper reports the findings of a qualitative case study that explores how international students in different disciplines struggle to interpret their disciplinary requirements. The study shows the emergence of five main forms of unpacking academic expectations that individual students in the study employed. It will be argued that these international students appear to be active and capable of drawing on various strategies and problemsolving skills in order to take control of their academic life and enable them to participate in the academic practices of their discipline. The students’ experiences also indicate that the interaction and dialogue they establish with their lecturers plays a significant role in their success in the course. 2008 Herdsa.