Developing Cultural Awareness Through Study Abroad Programs – Europe Global Diplomacy and Journalism

From the top of the Eiffel Tower, there is a beautiful view of the nearby park. Study abroad programs are one of the ways students can travel while earning college credit. (Kamree Laursen)

Whether BYU history student Alli Argyle travels to a different European city every weekend or dresses up as a Jane Austen character, she was living the London life. Argyle was able to experience London’s diverse culture first-hand, something she wouldn’t normally be able to do without studying abroad.

According to Office of Educational and Cultural Affairs, study abroad programs have grown in popularity over the past 15 years with many students taking part in them all over the world. With so many countries to explore, study abroad programs have become one of the best opportunities for students to experience cultures first-hand.

Students can take courses and receive college credits while living in a country they are unfamiliar with. Most study abroad programs offer courses specific to the major of the student, but they also have programs aimed at their general education, as indicated by Study Abroad in USA.

The NAFSA: Association of International Educators believes that the purpose of study abroad programs is to enable students to enhance their learning and develop their understanding within a community.

Argyle has decided to spend his Winter 2022 semester studying at BYU London Centre. She said her three other sisters had also studied at the London Centre, which inspired Argyle to want to go there.

In London, Argyle said she felt like a part of history being made there. She said she loved that there was so much history at her fingertips.

“I’m a bit of a history buff and so being able to go to the sites of historic places made me feel like I was actually there,” Argyle said.

Alli Argyle standing in front of Westminster Abbey, one of many sights she was able to see during her program. BYU students can learn about the culture and history of the countries they visit. (Alli Argyle)

Studying abroad has not only made Argyle feel culturally immersed, but she says it has also helped her to be educationally enlightened.

She said her classroom experience and learning was very practical and experiential. Argyle said she was able to understand the topics more easily because she could visualize them instead of just hearing them in a standard classroom setting.

Argyle credits his study abroad program with allowing him to come out of his shell by meeting new people and discovering new places.

“I learned how much of a bubble I was in,” Argyle said. “I think in Utah I have a security blanket of having a similar background to everyone around me, but London is such a global city that has people from all over the world.”

While Argyle got to experience English culture, Jessica Burch-Konda spent her month abroad in Valladolid, Spain.

Burch-Konda, a Cal Poly University student majoring in business, studied Spanish while studying abroad in Spain.

Through her experience living in Spain, Burch-Konda said she was able to immerse herself in the culture there by eating food and exploring different historical places in the city.

“I lived with a Spanish host family and had the opportunity to eat every meal with them and see what it was like to live authentically here for a month,” Burch-Konda said.

One thing she said she discovered while studying abroad was not to get overwhelmed by the little things. Burch-Konda realized that many people in Spain are not as stressed about their lives and lead very relaxed lives.

Cal Poly University student Jessica Burch-Konda enjoyed walking the streets of Spain every day while studying abroad. She was able to discover the authentic Spanish cuisine of her host family. (Jessica Burch-Konda)

Students have the opportunity to live like the locals while studying abroad. According to a journal study by Jesse Wilson, students are able to increase their cultural awareness, that is, the ability to react and act in situations where they encounter another culture.

Burch-Konda said from her own study abroad experience, students can adapt better to different types of people and cultures, whether they’re in another country or just in their city. native.

“At its best, education abroad fosters a global perspective, cultural understanding, deep learning, lifelong friendships, and opens many doors,” said Cory Leonard, associate director of special programs at BYU Kennedy. Center.

Leonard facilitated study abroad programs through BYU for 12 years and took students to places like Italy, France, Spain and China.

Throughout Leonard’s experience leading study abroad programs, he has said, “When students can connect theories, ideas, and scholars with people, places, and international business practice, learning comes to life.”

Categories: Europe Travel

Tags: cultural awareness, london, paris, spain, study abroad

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