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Study Abroad: It Has to Hurt!

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 14 April 17 2020

April 2020

Studying abroad doesn’t always bring students the cross-cultural (or intercultural) competencies that we expect them to get. Agnieszka Chwialkowska from West Georgia University analysed on “Maximising Cross-Cultural Learning from Exchange Study Abroad Programmes” and reported on these findings in the Journal of Studies in International Education. She developed a model of relationships between aspects of study abroad programmes and development of cross-cultural learning. She tested the model on 700 students participating in study abroad programmes, using logistic regression analysis. The analysis shows that study abroad brings more cross-cultural development if students share accommodation and courses with students from other cultures and participate in local community engagement activities. It also shows that these factors make the students feel less comfortable.
The study shows solid statistical robustness, with the clear predictive value of the model. It would be great if we could see enough increase in such quantitative analyses of study abroad and cross-cultural development that a meta-study could offer more generalisable conclusions. Still, the main conclusions stand that study abroad brings more personal and cross-cultural development if students are challenged to get out of their comfort zone.

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