Expectations of and Concerns about Semester-long Study Abroad: A Case Study

Meihua Liu, Wei CAI


The study reported in the present paper focused on the expectations of and concerns about the impending semester-long study abroad of students from a prestigious Chinese university. Data were collected via questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Analyses of 33 questionnaires and 15 semi-structured interviews yielded the following main findings: (1) the participants joined the exchange program for various motivations such as improving English, experiencing the host culture and broadening their views, and cultivating cultural awareness, (2) they held fairly high expectations from the exchange experience. They hoped to benefit from the experience in every aspect such as enhancing English proficiency, becoming more mature and independent, and interacting more effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, (3) they, to varying degrees, believed that the exchange experience would be valuable to their academic and personal life and their future career, and (4) the majority participants had worries and concerns about their stay abroad such as culture shock, classroom participation, intercultural interaction, and language barrier. Consequently, the paper suggests an orientation or program should be provided by the home university to prepare students better for their study and life abroad prior to their sojourn.

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