The COVID-19 pandemic has brought various challenges to the education domain globally. This study examines how a group of non-local university students studying at EMI universities in Hong Kong adjusted to the dominant online mode of learning and communication based on their lived experiences in learning and intercultural social networking during the pandemic. Employing the theory of digital literacies and Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and capital, we show how students expanded, redeveloped and transferred existing awareness, knowledge, competences and practices to engage in a range of digitally mediated academic and social activities in this condition. We conclude by discussing how the findings may inform refinement or readjustment of digitalized/zing international higher education. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.