The cross-cultural re-entry experiences of short-term study abroad students from the United States

James L Citron, University of Pennsylvania


This study sought to understand the re-entry experiences of one group of undergraduate students from the United States who returned to their home campus after spending fourteen weeks studying Spanish language and culture in Spain. Specifically, it sought to understand how they experienced re-entry and what the range and variation was in their experiences. It investigated how re-entry manifested itself as a problem or as a resource in the students' lives and what common categories of experience students' re-entry generated. It sought to identify longitudinal patterns for students' adjustment overseas and during re-entry as well as relationships between these patterns. Finally, it looked for relationships between students' integration into the host culture and their re-entry experiences. Qualitative data from before, during, and after the overseas program were collected through participant observations, researcher-participant interviews, student-participant journals, and student-participant self-report ratings. These data were then considered collectively and analyzed for each participant. The re-entry experience was found to manifest itself across four dimensions of students' lives. These included the physical dimension, the interpersonal dimension, the cultural dimension, and the personal dimension. Students' adjustment patterns in Spain and during re-entry were found to vary significantly by student and no generalizable relationships were found between them. A relationship was found, however, between how re-entry was experienced in each of these four dimensions and whether a student had lived in Spain according to the home culture's norms, the norms of the third culture that students had created for themselves in Spain, or according to the host culture's norms. To illustrate the findings, three students' experiences were presented as detailed case studies. The significance of the findings for study abroad orientation and program design were then explored.

Subject Area

Higher education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Social psychology|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Citron, James L, "The cross-cultural re-entry experiences of short-term study abroad students from the United States" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9627903.