The benefits of gaining cross-cultural experience through studying abroad are widely recognized, and great effort has gone into maximizing the quality of those sojourns. Often students have intense learning experiences and feel profoundly changed. But what happens when the students return home? Many may not only feel a temporary disorientation or reverse culture shock, but also face longer-term difficulty integrating their very real learning while abroad into their on-campus education, intercultural encounters here, or career plans.
Recently, several institutions have gone beyond extracurricular re-entry programming (such as re-orientation sessions, photo contests, etc.) to offer courses for credit to scaffold deeper intellectual integration of the study abroad experience. In this web site some of us faculty have decided to share our syllabi and resources for such courses, taught from different disciplinary backgrounds. In each of them, the students engage in extensive self-reflection, analysis, and writing to articulate the impact of the sojourn, and then bring their own data to engage with, test, and apply existing theories and research.
We are also starting a listserve for interactive discussions of key issues for such courses, sharing of other ideas, or asking questions. By pooling our own best practices in this way, we can all better integrate international learning into our students’ undergraduate education.