Studying abroad, and the cultural exposure that brings (5)

1 Name: Anonymous : 2008-02-17 21:56 ID:u+nO58CB

I really want to study abroad my junior year of university. I was reading on my school's study-abroad program website that international students were placed in a dorm with other international students. Does anyone else think that this idea is, to an extent, counterintuitive? I believe that international students should be interspersed with domestic students. I had a friend who studied abroad in high school, and they lived with a family and partook in cultural traditions, etc. I think that's the correct way to go--cross-cultural exposure, even in your off hours. If all the international students are living together, does anyone else thing that might lead to a tendency to cloister up (out of homesickness, anxiety from being in a new environment, desire for familiarity, etc) in the "domestic wing," thus polarizing the "foreign kids" from everyone else? Not only would that bring tension socially, that would sorta defeat the purpose of studying abroad.

I mean, I'm sure it all generally works out. But I just think it would be more effective to live mixed up with everyone else. Someone from Spain is staying in my dorm hall this year, and they live with other domestic students. I think it helps a lot in order to integrate them socially, and to expose them to cultural behaviour they would have otherwise missed out on (i.e. miscellaneous things that occur on the cuff, only observed in the off-hours inside a dorm).

2 Name: Anonymous : 2008-02-17 22:29 ID:v4zgQvW5

I think you are absolutely right, but I think things end up organised this way because it's easier bureaucratically (international students have higher turn-over than domestic ones).

Nevertheless, it's also up to the students to get to know people and be proactive. Still, if people lived together it would be easier, as you say,...

3 Name: Anonymous : 2008-02-18 09:45 ID:PvZd2aJk

Cultural differences can often be too large of an issue for rooming together. There are also communication issues, and those can very negatively affect perceptions of others and setting up schedules, rules, etc.

4 Name: Anonymous : 2008-02-18 11:00 ID:rFi5pXvJ

You can also look into if the study abroad program has a home stay program. You can stay with a family who has lived there for, some of them, their whole lives and they will be more welcoming because they might have host more international students in the past. At my university, since my second major is Japanese Studies, I have go for a year to Japan to graduate. Some of the partnerships between my university and others give it more programs, so I don't know about yours. When I looked into studying abroad in Japan, some of the universities like Hokkaido Education University, Nagoya (a christian university), and Tohoku had some home stay programs. Tohoku though has the same type of dorm situation you were talking about but Hokkaido Education University and Nagoya have it where you stay in the dorms with other Japanese. Try looking into that. I hope this helps.

5 Name: Anonymous : 2008-03-30 13:37 ID:2V/jnSzA

>>1 That's exactly why I chose to stay with a host family. Friends of mine in the same program are in international dorms and I've heard every possible story.

One girl is discriminated against by most of the other people in the dorm because she's the only caucasian, while others say that people just don't want to talk to them.

Even though I opted for homestay, in all honesty, I would have preferred to simply live alone in an apartment. Since I usually make an effort to go out and about and do stuff with people, there isn't really any kind of isolation from people. It's more like having the comfort of not having to constantly worry if you're doing something that's offending others around you. Especially true in Japan where people hold their complaints in.

Really, the right kind of lodging situation for study abroad students is really dependent on their personality.

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