This dissertation examined sojourner adjustment success utilizing a unique method for collecting and analyzing the perceptions and sense making of the sojourner participants. Although previous research studies in this area have mostly relied on quantitative survey designs and researcher-generated models, this study relied on in-depth, participant-driven, qualitative interviews that were semi-structured using a software-assisted method called Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM). Through this dissertation research, study abroad students (sojourners) had the opportunity to reflect on their sojourn experience, share their adjustment stories, and identify factors that were personally relevant to their success. This study broke new ground while building on the vast body of work in cross-cultural and sojourner adjustment. Sojourners were asked to provide their perspectives on the relationships among those factors reported in the literature that are commonly believed to influence successful adjustment. This allowed me to connect existing literature on the subject with the lived experience of the sojourner participants. This dissertation sought to answer two research questions. First, what factors do participants identify as being keys to the success of their sojourn? Second, what relationships do participants perceive among the factors contributing to successful sojourner adjustment? This dissertation found that language proficiency played a key role in their adjustment and openness was the factor most selected by participants in their explanation of a successful sojourn. Additionally, participant profiles and influence structure summaries provided evidence of the relationships participants saw among success factors in their lived experiences. In terms of preparing sojourners for going abroad, analysis of the composite structure revealed what could be prioritized in pre-departure training for impending sojourners. Themes emerged which provide insight into the commonalities of the sojourner experience despite differences in one's program or personality. This dissertation also explained additional success factors participants identified (e.g., ability to manage language fatigue, creation of connections with other travelers) that were not initially provided to them. Finally, suggestions for study abroad students/coordinators, researchers, and employers are provided.
- Stepping inside the box: analysis of sojourner perspectives on successful study abroad experiences
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Statement of Responsibility
by Alexis J. Valianos