Title

Study Abroad Students’ Identity and their Social Integration

Subject Area

Study Abroad

Abstract

The number of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad is growing, including minority students and students of Color. Students’ experiences can vary a great deal and their identity plays a critical role in shaping their interactions, perceptions, and learning outcomes. This study employed Critical Race Theory and Bourdieu’s notions of habitus and capital to explore the experiences of four groups of U.S. undergraduates enrolled in an academic program in Spain sponsored by a large U.S. university located in the South East. Findings showed how students’ identity intersected and ultimately shaped their study abroad journey and significantly impacted their social integration. The examples of Albert, Theresa, and Rebecca, three focal students, allowed for the analysis of how differently students’ identity inscriptions, notably gender, race, ethnicity, age, social class, and nationality, affected their experiences, activities, interactions with locals, and perceptions of the target language, culture, and society. Albert was a working-class African-American male and felt discriminated against abroad because of his skin color and physical appearance. Theresa struggled to engage in a productive dialogue with her professors and could not negotiate a level of academic assistance and performance that was commensurate with the monetary value of the program she had paid for. Rebecca was the target of catcalling and aggressive behavior perpetrated by Spaniards, and found certain cultural practices to be arrogant and threatening. Important implications are discussed, including the importance of training study abroad participants before, during and after the trip, and selecting activities that could facilitate greater and more sustained social integration.

Brief Bio Note

Federica Goldoni is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the School of Liberal Arts at Georgia Gwinnett College. She graduated from the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. Her main interests are second language pedagogy, linguistics, and international education.

Keywords

study abroad, Spanish, identity, foreign language education

Location

Room 212

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-24-2017 4:15 PM

Embargo

11-11-2016

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Mar 24th, 4:15 PM

Study Abroad Students’ Identity and their Social Integration

Room 212

The number of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad is growing, including minority students and students of Color. Students’ experiences can vary a great deal and their identity plays a critical role in shaping their interactions, perceptions, and learning outcomes. This study employed Critical Race Theory and Bourdieu’s notions of habitus and capital to explore the experiences of four groups of U.S. undergraduates enrolled in an academic program in Spain sponsored by a large U.S. university located in the South East. Findings showed how students’ identity intersected and ultimately shaped their study abroad journey and significantly impacted their social integration. The examples of Albert, Theresa, and Rebecca, three focal students, allowed for the analysis of how differently students’ identity inscriptions, notably gender, race, ethnicity, age, social class, and nationality, affected their experiences, activities, interactions with locals, and perceptions of the target language, culture, and society. Albert was a working-class African-American male and felt discriminated against abroad because of his skin color and physical appearance. Theresa struggled to engage in a productive dialogue with her professors and could not negotiate a level of academic assistance and performance that was commensurate with the monetary value of the program she had paid for. Rebecca was the target of catcalling and aggressive behavior perpetrated by Spaniards, and found certain cultural practices to be arrogant and threatening. Important implications are discussed, including the importance of training study abroad participants before, during and after the trip, and selecting activities that could facilitate greater and more sustained social integration.