Study Abroad Programs and the Culture Shock Phenomenon: A Comprehensive Analysis of Liability, Risk, and the Efficacy of Preparation
As undergraduate students focus on the perceived adventure, growth opportunities, social connections, freedom and fun, they may not be aware of the dangers and risks associated with studying abroad. Despite university-created crisis prevention measures such as policies, documentation, and orientations warning of the risk of travel, students who study abroad face some form of a crisis every year. Universities warn travelers of the dangers of crime and the psychological issues associated with liminal experiences and culture shock, preparing students for the harsh reality that immersion into a foreign culture is an intense and sometimes taxing experience. Faculty and staff dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy to ensure our students are braced for their travel experience, yet students still experience immense hardships. In a comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, we seek to find and explore reasons and variables that account for this chasm. We suspect the reason for this chasm, despite good efforts, is the variance between the resources that are provided and needed both upon entry into host country, and re-entry into native country. In extensively reviewing existing scholarly literature, reviewing case studies, conducting examinations of multi-causal variables, and analyzing measurable data, we suggest that study abroad preparation resources must adapt in order to accommodate an ever-evolving undergraduate tourist experience. In Section I the research team provides an introduction and underscores the central question of the study. Section II includes an extensive literature review in order to establish a definition of culture shock, determine what universities currently do to mitigate culture shock and risk, and assess the efficacy of these strategies. The research team subsequently identifies a lacuna -- the gap or point of departure from existing literature and research that this study seeks to fill. Section III presents our hypothesis, while Section IV offers an outline of precise Methodology. Section V includes an in-depth Data Analysis using findings dependent upon surveys and interviews as discussed in Methodology. Section VI presents policy recommendations or a “fix” based upon findings presented in Data Analysis. Section VII presents a conclusion, offering a culmination of deductions and implications, proving the relevance of this study to Arizona State University.