Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Karla Giuliano Sarr


Currently, the majority of students who study abroad do so through short-term programs. In fact, in 2015 over 60% of students who studied abroad chose short-term programs lasting eight weeks or less (IIE, 2016). It has long been the belief that study abroad has the potential to be a life-changing and transformative experience, not just academically but also for personal growth and development. Many professionals agree that the students who go abroad on short-term study abroad programs are significantly less likely to experience meaningful learning outside of the subject matter they are studying, and are less likely to experience personal growth (Hoffa & DePaul, 2010). This Independent Practitioner Inquiry Capstone (IPIC) paper examines the relationship between short-term study abroad programs and student personal growth and learning through the experiences of eight Experiment in International Living (herein referred to as “The Experiment”) alumni. Evidence from this study indicates that the key to growth and learning is discomfort, and that while the word often has negative connotations in our society, the potential results derived from moments of discomfort are largely positive and meaningful. The research of this paper is rooted in experiential education, transformational education, psychosocial development, identity theory, and narrative inquiry. This project aims to shed light on the potential for short-term study abroad to still be an experience of personal growth in spite of the program’s duration, and what we as practitioners can do to encourage moments of learning.


Education | Higher Education | International and Comparative Education | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Philosophy | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


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