Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Scott Gaier

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of a semester study abroad experience on students’ perceptions and development of their life callings. Through phenomenological research, this study explores the individual experiences and insights of six study abroad alumni and will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. What are the experiences of students participating in semester-long study abroad programs?
  2. How does participation in a semester-long study abroad program impact students’ perceptions and development of their callings?

Major findings include the participants’ sense of preparedness and prior exposure to cross-cultural encounters, the influence of shared experiences and challenges faced during their semester abroad, and the personal development, namely acceptance of cultural differences, increased value of others, continued cross-cultural exposure, and future aspirations, that resulted from their time abroad. Recommendations for practice include emphasizing study abroad opportunities in cultures different from students’ home cultures, providing cultural mentors for students studying abroad, stimulating independent pre-departure preparation, and, within that preparation, incorporating resources to enhance students’ self-awareness in light of their callings.

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