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David Comp

Education 900K
Journal Article Summary #2

Citron, J.L. (1996). Short-Term Study Abroad: Integration, third culture formation, and re-entry.
A NAFSA conference paper.

This research project was designed to understand the re-entry experiences of students from the United
States who returned from a semester long study abroad program focusing on the Spanish language and
culture in Spain. The project also sought to investigate whether or not the re-entry experience was a
problem or a resource for the students and to identify any longitudinal patterns for students’ adjustment in
both Spain and upon re-entry and any relationships between these patterns. Qualitative data was obtained
before, during and after the study abroad experience by methods of student observations, researcher-
participant interviews, student journals, and student self-report ratings. These data were considered
collectively and analyzed for each student. The re-entry experience was determined to reveal itself across
four dimensions (physical, interpersonal, cultural, and personal) of students’ lives. Students’ adjustment
patterns in Spain and upon re-entry were found to vary significantly by students. A relationship was found
between how re-entry was experienced in each of the four dimensions and whether the student had lived in
Spain according to their home culture’s norms, the norms of the third culture developed by the students, or
to the host culture’s norms.

This research project was very interesting to me because I myself have studied abroad for a semester in
Spain and I am planning on conducting qualitative research in an attempt to compare study abroad
programs for my graduate thesis. Re-entry into ones’ home culture after a study abroad experience is an
interesting phenomenon. Only during the past few decades has the re-entry phenomenon received
widespread attention. The research and knowledge in this area continue to grow. For this reason, it is
important to continue research in the area of re-entry to help study abroad practitioners, as well as students,
understand re-entry within the context of the entire study abroad experience. This study attempted to
examine the relationship between overseas cultural adjustment and re-entry cultural adjustment.

The researcher used several methods to gather qualitative data for this study. The researcher asked the
following four questions: 1. How do U.S. undergraduate students experience re-entry after studying
abroad? What is the range and variation of their experiences? 2. How does re-entry manifest itself as a
problem or as a resource in their lives? What common categories of experience does their re-entry
generate? 3. What is the longitudinal pattern of students’ adjustment overseas and during re-entry? Is
there a relationship between students’ adjustment patterns for the overseas and re-entry periods? 4. Is
there a relationship between students’ integration into the host culture and their re-entry experiences? The
researcher gathered data before, during and after the study abroad experience by methods of researcher-
participant interviews, interviews with significant acquaintances, participant observation and field notes,
student journals, and daily ratings (student self-reports).

All of the above mentioned methods of data collection seem relevant to the study. The variety of methods
used to collect the data allowed the researcher to compare and analyze relevant themes for each individual
student in order to answer each research question. I would imagine that there was an enormous amount of
qualitative data to transcribe and code in order to analyze. Eliminating the interviews with significant
acquaintances (administrators, faculty members, and other natives of the host culture) may be advisable.
Time spent obtaining data from significant others may be spent participant observations and field notes. By
collecting data before, during and after the study abroad experience, the researcher was able to analyze the
data for each students’ experiences and determine how they adjusted to the overseas culture and their home
culture upon re-entry. This was an excellent way to obtain important and relevant data. The researcher
only focused on students who all studied on the same program in Madrid, Spain. The program components
were essentially identical for each student. Perhaps the researcher would have had different results if he
had collected data from students who participated on different programs, in different countries and different
geographical locations in the world. By doing so, the researcher would not have been able to gather
valuable data on the students during the study abroad experience. Perhaps there was not a need to gather
data during the experience, only after re-entry to the U.S.