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Reflections

Returning home from a semester or year abroad can give you an excellent opportunity to ponder changes in your perspectives on your host culture, your home culture and yourself. Below are some questions which may assist you in learning more about the new you. If you kept a journal while abroad, you may gain some insights into these changes by re-reading your entries:

About the host culture:

  1. What have I learned while in the host culture(s) that I did not know previously? Has this changed my view of the host culture(s)?
  2. Was I able to learn of all aspects of the host culture(s) including non-university-related areas - e.g. how are children and the elderly treated in the host culture(s)?
  3. What stereotypes did I have of the host culture(s) before I departed? Have these changed in any way?
  4. Did I pick up any new stereotypes or biases? Are they valid?
  5. If I studied a language, how has that changed my views of the host culture(s)? Is my language study complete or do I need to study it further in order to perfect my language skills and understand the culture?
  6. What can I do to continue deepening my understanding of the host culture(s)?

About your home culture:

  1. How have my attitudes about my home culture changed? What has caused these changes?
  2. By being abroad and able to compare my culture with a different culture(s), what have I learned about the history, values and traditions that make up my home culture?
  3. What can I do to continue deepening my understanding of my home culture?

About myself:

  1. How have I changed during the sojourn abroad? Do I feel more confident, independent or cosmopolitan? How can I express these changes to my friends and family in a non-threatening manner?
  2. What new skills do I possess? For example: knowledge of a different culture(s), adaptation skills, second-language proficiency, creative problem-solving, tolerance, increased human relations skills, etc.
  3. In what ways can I apply what I learned abroad for personal, academic or career-related development?
  4. How have my personal values changed because of my study abroad experience?

(Source: Brown University, Office of International Programs, website: www.brown.edu/Administration/OIP/files/returnees/reflections.html)


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