Intercultural competence is often touted as one of the key benefits and achievements of studying abroad. It is often believed to develop through a student’s involvement in activities that promote ‘cultural learning’ while on exchange – not least immersion in the foreign culture. Most studies take a quantitative approach to researching cultural learning by ‘measuring’ students’ level of intercultural competence before and after studying abroad. While potentially illustrative, this approach says little about issues surrounding the processes of cultural learning – in particular, what characterizes and/or influences these processes. Further questions raised include: What opportunities are available for the students to engage in cultural learning? What motivates or demotivates students to learn about the host culture? How does studying abroad and cultural learning influence students’ identity and self in the months or years after studying abroad?
The purpose of this research project is to identify patterns of cultural learning for students studying abroad at DIS in Copenhagen. The study follows 20-25 students during a semester through interviews before, during, and after their stay. The research assistant(s) will be introduced to and instructed in qualitative research techniques and will contribute to the study by conducting and transcribing interviews, as well as performing initial data analysis.