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Keywords:

  • cultural clash;
  • ethnography;
  • foreign languages;
  • immersion;
  • study abroad

Abstract

Data show that a larger number of students than ever are participating in learning experiences abroad. However, such programs are not always as immersive and intensive as participants, faculty, program directors, and administrators would wish. This study examines the ways in which students created sustained opportunities to interact with members of the host community as well as episodes of cultural clash, miscommunication, and misunderstanding experienced at the intersection of two cultures that led to diminishing willingness to interact with members of the host community. The article concludes with recommendations for pre-departure experiences that are designed to help students become more aware of their sociocultural identities, cultural values, learning goals, and program expectations as well as to invest in their own learning and prepare to engage in sustained and meaningful ways with members of the host culture.