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Processing Your International Experience

Returning home from fieldwork or a study abroad experience provides you with an excellent opportunity to consider changes in your perspectives on your host culture, your home culture, and yourself. Below are some questions that may assist you in integrating your experience. If you documented your experience abroad through blogs, social media, podcast, etc., you may gain some insights into these changes by re-reading your entries.

  • What have you learned while in the host culture that you did not know previously? How has this changed your view of the host culture?
  • What were you able to learn about different aspects of the host culture, including non-academic areas; for instance, how are children and the elderly treated in the host culture?
  • What stereotypes did you have of the host culture before you lived there? Have these changed in any way?
  • Did you pick up any new stereotypes or biases? Are they valid?
  • If you studied a language, how has that changed your views of the host culture? Is your language study complete, or do you need to study it further in order to perfect your language skills and understand the culture?
  • What can you do to continue deepening your understanding of the host culture?
  • How have your attitudes about your home culture changed? What has caused these changes?
  • What insights has your experience abroad provided you about the history, values and traditions that make up your home culture?
  • What can you do to continue to deepen your understanding of your home culture?
  • How have you changed during the sojourn abroad? Do you feel more confident, independent or cosmopolitan? How can you express these changes to your friends and family in a non-threatening manner?
  • What new skills do you possess? For example, the knowledge of a different culture, adaptation skills, second-language proficiency, creative problem-solving, tolerance, increased human relations skills, etc.
  • In what ways can you apply what you learned abroad for personal, academic, or career-related development? How have your personal values changed because of your experience?