Study Abroad Guidelines as a Tool to Support International Student Mobility
Eva Seidl, University of Graz (Austria)
Birgit Simschitz, University of Graz (Austria)
As a result of greater mobility and internationalization processes in the higher education system and an increasingly globalized world, all universities and institutions of higher learning are confronted with opportunities and challenges. Since a more international, heterogeneous student body gives rise to increased confrontation with a variety of daily university practices, all participants – students, instructors and university employees – are required to question what is their own, what they are familiar with and what is perceived as normal. Ideally, they develop intercultural communicative competence as part of a change in perspective. This article presents a research project on international student mobility called “Short term study abroad – Needs and experiences”, conducted at the University of Graz (Austria), Centre for Language, Plurilingualism and Didactics. First project outcomes are three study abroad guidelines for different target groups: incoming and outgoing students as well as faculty members. All these guidelines encourage reflection on university communication and interactions, based on the assumption that a mobility experience like studying abroad – to have a sustainable impact – requires specific, culturally sensitive preparation, support and reflection. Naturally, each study abroad experience is unique. Nevertheless, we as authors are convinced that a high degree of generalization and abstraction of concrete experiences in an unfamiliar academic context makes it possible to address topics such as conventions for behavior, expectations for roles or strategies for dealing with irritating situations – independent of what, where and how long you study abroad.