The emerging global structure requires interaction between societies and the international flow of knowledge. Exchange of students and study abroad programs are components of this internationalization process. The Erasmus program, the most common study abroad program in Turkey, has a great impact on the exchange of cultures and academic knowledge. This study will reveal different kinds of Erasmus experiences, the cultural and academic impacts of the program, how the program changes the expectation of participants, and how participants experience the return home after their study abroad program.
Data were collected via a qualitative method--a semi-structured interview, as the objective of the study is to gather personal feelings and ideas. Nine former Erasmus students from Anadolu University Tourism Department, Turkey, were interviewed via Skype or phone call between April 20 and May 9, 2014.
The data from the interviews were grouped and analyzed under the study objectives subgroups based on the literature and themes that the students mentioned during the interviews.
The study reveals that tourism major students consider study abroad programs and international experiences as vital for their major. According to participants, after the Erasmus program they became more open-minded and tolerant, and they state these characteristics are important for the tourism field to accommodate people from diverse backgrounds. For that reason students believe that institutions should provide more international opportunities to exchange cultures and experience different education and learning styles.
In addition, although academic expectations are not the drivers that make students decide to participate in the program, during the program they recognize some differences between home and host institutions in terms of learning environments and different teaching methods. These differences make students expect more from their home institutions and motivate them to continue their education or career abroad.
Additionally, as the program provides an opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles, returning from such an experience is seen as challenging by students as Turkey and Europe have different lifestyles in terms of social life, recreational activities, and way of life. Although the students are not naming this problematic process as a reverse culture shock, their desire to go back addresses one of reverse culture shock's indicators as mentioned in the study of Cohen (2003). Therefore, the adjustment of the returnees should be considered more in depth.
The study would be beneficial for students who would like to join study abroad programs or other kinds of internationalization activities such as international field trips or other exchange programs. It also could be used by the professors, institutions, and international offices of the universities to accommodate the students, as their expectations and satisfaction levels change after abroad experiences and their returning process has some difficulties to consider.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Foreign study--Research; Tourism--Study and teaching--Turkey
Hospitality-Tourism Management (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Hospitality and Tourism Management (CAST)
Zerman, Seza, "The Impacts of Study Abroad Opportunities on International Students" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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