The ethnography of study abroad : what is study abroad as a cultural event?
Goldoni, Federica
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament d'Antropologia Social i Cultural

Data: 2007
Descripció: 18 p.
Resum: Recent research in the field of study abroad shows that study abroad participation among all U. S. students increased 20% since 2001 and nearly 200,000 U. S. students currently go abroad each year. Additionally, about 8% of all undergraduate degree recipients receive part of their education abroad. Although quantitative studies have dominated research on study abroad, my research project calls for a qualitative approach since the goal is to understand what study abroad is as a cultural event, what authentic cultural immersion is, how program stakeholders understand and perceive cultural immersion, and how cultural immersion in programs can be improved. Following the tradition of ethnographic and case study approaches in study abroad research, my study also pivots on ethnography. As an ethnographer I collected data mainly through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. The study abroad participants were a group of undergraduate native speakers of English studying Spanish for seven weeks in Cádiz, a small costal city in southern Spain, as well as program coordinators, host community members, and professors. I also examined the specific program design features, particularly the in-class and out-of-class activities that students participated in. The goal was to understand if these features were conducive to authentic immersion in the language and culture. Eventually, I elaborated an ethnographic evaluation of the study abroad program and its design features suggesting improvements in order to enhance the significance and value of study abroad as a cultural event. Among other things, I discussed the difficulties that students had at the beginning of their sojourn to understand local people, get used to their host families' small apartments, get adjusted to new schedules and eating habits, and venture out from the main group to individually explore the new social and cultural fabric and interact with the host community. The program evaluation revealed the need for carefully-designed pre-departure preparation sessions, pre-departure credit-bearing courses in intercultural communication, and additional language practice abroad and opportunities to come in contact with the local community through internships, volunteer or field work. My study gives an important contribution in study abroad research and education. It benefits students, teachers, and study abroad directors and coordinators in suggesting ideas on how to improve the program and optimize the students' cultural experiences abroad. This study is also important because it investigated how US undergraduate learners studying the Spanish language and culture approach and perceive the study abroad experience in Spain.
Drets: L'accés als continguts d'aquest document queda condicionat a l'acceptació de les condicions d'ús establertes per la següent llicència Creative Commons: Creative Commons
Llengua: Anglès.
Col·lecció: Documents de treball
Col·lecció: EMIGRA working papers ; 8
Document: workingPaper
Matèria: Estudis a l'estranger

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18 p, 107.3 KB

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