ERIC Number: EJ703827
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May-1
Encountering an American Self: Study Abroad and National Identity
Comparative Education Review, v48 n2 p150 May 2004
American undergraduates are often enticed to study abroad by the promise that they will have the experience of a lifetime and the experience of the world. For example, one American university attracts participants by claiming that "studying abroad promotes cross-cultural understanding," broadens your worldview, and prepares you for your future. Another university promises that "overseas study is the most effective and dramatic experience you can have to broaden your international and intercultural awareness." Encountering another world, immersing oneself in the daily practices of other people, sometimes living and speaking in another language, and learning how others view the world are all touted as the benefits of studying abroad. However, it is also evident, as Brown University's Office of International Program's suggests, that study abroad provides the opportunity to reflect on "the awareness of the values and way of life of your own country, your own place in that country, and its place in the world." Thus, study abroad provides not only the possibility of encountering the world, but of encountering oneself--particularly one's national identity--in a context that may stimulate new questions and new formulations of that self. This article examines the study abroad experiences of a group of American undergraduates enrolled at a large research university in the Midwest. It discusses the ways that these students negotiate an "American" identity within the context of their study abroad experiences in Australia in 2001. It also argues that this "encounter with an American self" is the most significant component of these students' experiences in Australia.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Comparative Education, Travel, Student Attitudes, Intercultural Communication, Cultural Awareness, Individual Development, Study Abroad, College Students, Self Concept
University of Chicago Press, Journals Division, P.O. Box 37005, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-3347; Web site: http://www.journal.uchicago.edu; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A