Active learning has been advocated as a method of instruction in higher educations since the early 1980s, yet little attention has been paid to the way students respond to and perceive the quality of active learning instruction. Notably, there is little understanding of how international students, who prior educational experiences are with transmission centered instruction, are frequently under prepared for the diversity of active learning instructional strategies used in American higher education. Therefore, we ask how do international students perceive the quality and benefit of active learning instruction in American higher education? Shifting the evaluation paradigm to focus on student centered classroom experiences, we conducted an affective study on student reception and perceived value of active learning Through phenomenological interviews with 20 Indian international students studying in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, we sought to find how participants experienced the transition to active learning, and whether they found value in the new instructional methods. Findings indicate participants found active learning to be more engaging and beneficial for retention; however, expectations could be confusing and predicting one's success challenging. We provide considerations working with international students most familiar with transmission based instruction and underserved groups.