I strongly believe that, before enrolling on a program or experience abroad, before travelling to another culture, we should all try to learn the most about it and review what we know, what we don’t know, and what we should now.
In order to do this, we need to reflect. Reflection before, during and after any learning experience is an essential tool for success. Reflection needs the participant/traveller to adopt an active role, to review their beliefs and assumptions and to be able to modify them according to the circumstances.
|Reflection IS NOT||Reflection IS|
|Overgeneralized||Disaggregated, well differentiated|
|Unidimensional/intellectualized/disconnected||Integrative (Emotion, Behavior, Cognition)|
Savicki, V. & Price, M. ( 2017)
Reflection needs a change in perspective, what comes along a key element we have already talked abot, that is empathy. Being able to take the position of the other gives us the oppotunity to “see” what they see, to rething about our own ideas and maybe adapt them to the reality around us.
Learning about the others can also help us avoid taking a too selfish position: “this is how I am, this is how things are” ; but at the same time, learning is individual; we learn our own way, we learn from our own perspective, and our identity influences the way we learn and how we acquire that knowledge. We create our own meaning to the experiences we go through.
One example of this can be seen in students’ blogs, a practice that has been active for years and gives students a very important tool to express their own voice and reflect on their own experience.
“Reported benefits of studying abroad range from increased cultural awareness, intercultural sensitivity, and intercultural communication skills; second language gains; a reduction in ethnocentrism in favor of developing ethnorelativity; and interest in further contact with diverse cultures and peoples” (Dong. Q.; Day, K. & Collaço, C., 2007)
Dong. Q.; Day, K. & Collaço, C., Overcoming Ethnocentrism through Developing Intercultural Communication Sensitivity and Multiculturalism. Human Communication. A Publication of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association. Vol. 11, No.1, pp. 27 – 38
Savicki, V. & Price, M. Components of reflection: a longitudinal analysis of study abroad studens blog posts. Frontiers, (XXIX,vol 2) November 2017
Vandermaas-Peeler, M., Duncan-Bendix, J. & Sbahl, M. “I have a better sense of how interconnected the world ir”. Student perceptions of learning and global engagement during study abroad. Frontiers, XXX (2). April 2018