Publication Date

Spring 5-28-2014

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

David Shallenberger

Abstract

Numerous studies have shown that each year, more students in the United States choose to study abroad. Some universities have even taken steps to make international study a requirement. Similar to the increased competitiveness for students to attend and thereafter, to stand out in college, making the most of one’s overseas experience, going to more exotic locations and delving deeper into the local culture, will follow in this pattern as a means to be more competitive upon graduation. Increased awareness of the needs of students studying abroad will need to be addressed and students across the spectrum of both mental and physical ability will need to be more greatly accounted for.

How can the negative effects of international study be mitigated through increased predeparture planning and mentorship? Will increased predeparture preparation limit the challenges students who study abroad face? Using the fall 2013 voyage of Semester at Sea (SAS) as my focus, I investigated the challenges students faced during their international experience. This case study was conducted through a survey exhibiting the students’ perspectives and predeparture support, as well as faculty and staff interviews demonstrating professional observations of students’ adjustment and behaviors abroad.

This study demonstrated that overall, students had little predeparture support at their home institutions prior to their international programs. Little was known about culture shock, though faculty and staff reported that universally it was experienced. At risk behaviors abroad, students’ overall mental health, and academic accountability also proved to be factors influencing students’ overall experience and success.

Disciplines

International and Comparative Education

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