Friday, May 25, 2012

Study Abroad or Vacation?

As I searched Twitter for the daily "Study Abroad Tweet of the Day" that I post to IHEC Blog's Facebook page I came across the following tweet:

 "I LEAVE FOR COSTA RICA TODAY. SEE YOU IN 10TH DAYS! #PLANES #NERVOUS #ANXIOUS #STUDYABROAD #VACATION"

Based on the words I assume that this person is going on a "study abroad" program for 10 days and in her tweet she includes both #studyabroad and #vacation.

What are your thoughts on this?  Are 10 days in Costa Rica where one earns academic credit considered study abroad or a vacation?

I've posted about short-term study abroad before:

Study abroad related tweet of the day: "A two week study abroad can barely be considered an international experience in a university program..." [interesting that my first study abroad tweet of the day touched on this exact topic]

The Study Abroad Credential

How short can a study abroad program be?

Photo credits: manalahmadkhan and marinakvillatoro

13 comments:

  1. 10 days is a vacation. You need at least a few months to get the the full experience of studying abroad. The whole point is to return with a different perspective of the world, a new lense of seeing things, a paradigm shift. 10 days is far too short to accomplish that.

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  2. Programs like these can allow for actual academic credit being earned, thus allowing them to be considered study abroad programs, since studying will take place. But - the students will only gain a slightly enhanced tourist-view of the location. Most language instructors will advocate that any time in-country is better than none, but 10 days is a vacation with focus.

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  3. I would imagine that he mixes the two terms because the trip will have several vacation related aspects (travel, beautiful scenery, new foods, hotels or hostels) that interest him more than the study componant. But that's not to say that a short term program, well done, is not rewarding intellectually and personally. It can be short or long term and be successful as long as the quality is there.

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  4. Without knowing the student's situation, my freshman seminar in college involved a week-long trip to France in the context of a semester-long course about cross-cultural differences. I've always considered it as my "class trip to France" rather than "study abroad" but I suppose it could be looked at that way.

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  5. I think it depends on what this student is doing. Some two week excursions is helping the local population with healthcare. Something doctors without borders do. But I agree ten days is not very long. I think a few months is needed to appreciate the people and culture.

    Susan

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  6. Time is important, perhaps, but I’d also consider where and how a trip abroad is spent. Does the student travel into towns, villas, etc. to see how locals actually live their lives? Is most of the trip spent in the city?

    Educational value, I think, in a case like this, comes from variety as much as it does time.

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  7. There is just too much information missing to assess if this trip is really about understanding diversity and culture.

    Susan

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  8. Martha Denney, Colorado State U. retiredJune 1, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Ten days in a culture different from your own with good facilitation can absolutely be transformative for some. All experiences should be considered possibly beneficial- and length of time is not the primary predictor. Are longer programs probably more effective...likely, however the attitude of the student, the circumstances, the ability to separate from others like them can make the longer experience simply more of what they came from. I feel that the constant concern about length of time tends to overshadow the fact that learning takes place in many ways and in many places, and to use the now often overused saying "it's all good." In adult education languages we "start where people are." If the person having the experience feels they have learned and grown then who are we to dismiss that in any way? Martha

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  9. Thanks, everyone for the discussion and providing your point of view.

    Since I have not been to the last three Forum on Education Abroad conferences and the last two NAFSA conferences these dialogues are my conferences!

    Disclosure: in my position at Chicago Booth I administer short-term exchange programs [10-14] days for our part-time MBA students and students report having a valuable learning and cultural experience.

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  10. I worked at a community college for several years - and those students were different people after any study abroad experience - as little as a week and as much as a semester. The vast majority had not had a passport prior to study abroad. I suspect they think vacation is getting away - anywhere - so they mingle the words. Then again, studying abroad in a new place (with, hopefully, a solid program design) that inspires you to perform better academically, see the world and yourself differently, etc probably feels like an academic vacation to many who are confined to four walls or a virtual space. That represents freedom on an entirely new level! Thanks for raising the discussion - I too have missed the big conferences as of late. Missy (from Melibee Global -www.melibeeglobal.com)

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  11. Thanks Missy and all past comments. In my new (one year) position at the Univ. of Chicago Booth School of Business I run six short-term (2-3 week) exchange programs for MBA students in our Evening and Weekend MBA program (part-time programs) and the students have found much value in these short-term programs.

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  12. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to have. It opens the doors to all student who wants and dream to study abroad.

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