Workshop for outgoing students: "The benefits of culture shock"
Servizio relazioni internazionali e mobilità
Our survey among outgoing students shows that the main factors that motivate students to undertake an exchange semester abroad are the academic, cultural and linguistic benefits as well as future career and employment opportunities.
In light of this trend, and of the development of the international component of USI, and taking into consideration an increasingly globalized world, we believe it is important for students to acquire or strengthen their intercultural knowledge, to be able to operate on the market with a greater level of understanding, experience and awareness.
The International Relations and Study Abroad Service is therefore working on a programme to strengthen the students’ intercultural competences before the beginning of their exchange period. This programme complements a number of activities already organized by universities to facilitate the cultural and social integration and to help exchange students to establish a network in the host university, such as welcome events, orientation programmes, language courses and social/cultural events.
On 14 May, the Service has offered a pilot workshop for future outgoing students, to be better prepared to face a period in a new country and culture.
The workshop was held by Gian Hernandez, a doctoral student and research assistant at the Institute for Public Communication (ICP). Gian is also the program coordinator of the European Masters in Intercultural Communication (EMICC). He holds a MA in Global Studies from Humboldt Universität in Berlin, in collaboration with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) Argentina, as well as a BA in Communication Studies and a BM in Classical Music from San Francisco State University.
The workshop “The benefits of culture shock” introduced few theoretical concepts related to the meaning of culture, the stages of culture adaptation, how culture shapes our behavior, our sense of community and helps us define our position in a given system. Gian gave the group many practical examples linked to – but not only – his personal experience, having himself relocated to different countries for study purposes. Moving on to the topic of cultural adaptation and culture shock, the group was able to share personal experiences, and find answers to personal doubts and concerns.
We do hope that these initiatives will consolidate as a fundamental part of the study abroad experience, giving the students useful tools, tips and elements to reflect upon, in order to maximize their experience abroad.