The Value of Studying Abroad for Students and How to Understand This Value Properly

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Introduction

The world is narrowing down. Nations, previously accustomed to a high degree of disunity, have now become closer than ever, as a result of rapid technological progress, improved infrastructure, and ever-expanding communication networks. Due to the enhanced interaction between completely different societies and the rapidly growing orientation to the global market, the acquisition of international experience in cultivating a broad cultural perspective is not only becoming increasingly important in the interests of tolerance and understanding but also plays an increasingly fundamental role. in almost all aspects of future employment. In addition to acquiring valuable international skills, experience abroad is shown to make a significant contribution to improving the understanding of the present culture (Lee, Therriault & Linderholm, 2012).

The growing awareness of this shift towards more diverse cultural and international thinking can be seen from a number of different indicators, one of which is the growing number of students who choose to participate in many studies abroad programs (SA). Although student interest and increased participation reflect recognition of the importance of such programs, it is surprising that the overall level of participation remains relatively small, since less than 10 percent of Russian students choose to study abroad during their undergraduate studies (IIE: press release, 2013).

With such extensive research, confirming the positive impact of studying abroad on personal horizons, academic performance, and career development, it may seem strange that there is a difference between students who choose to study abroad and those who have refused such experience. The following pages will examine in more detail the benefits of study abroad programs and the inconsistency of student participation in undergraduate studies as a result of levels of awareness, fluctuating attitudes, and various restrictions. This will be achieved by reviewing existing literature, covering the impact of study abroad programs, in combination with empirical data collected through questionnaires and interviews with students studying in Russia.

The term “study abroad” has a very precise meaning for some, while for others it is rather a general concept. In order not to be too specific or too vague, a definition somewhere in the middle of these two extremes seems to work best.

Programs abroad are all educational programs that are conducted in another country outside the geographical boundaries of the country of origin, offering students the opportunity to receive academic credit on international experience” (Carlson & Widaman, 1988; Kitsantas, 2004, as quoted in Lee et al. 2012, p. 768).

The consistent and significant growth of study abroad programs began to manifest itself in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of increasing technology, infrastructure, communications, and increasing attention to tourism (ibid.). The growing growth has provided a significant increase in the variety of activities available for participating SA students, which has led to a wider choice of classes, opportunities for laboratory work, fieldwork in the field, internships, humanitarian assistance efforts, and many other options to choose from (Harvard University, nd). As a result of both national and programmatic achievements, the number of students studying abroad increased from 71,000 in 1990 to 283,000 in 2012.

While these growing participation rates and the wider availability of study abroad programs can largely be attributed to the collective efforts made by a significant number of European universities, some institutions play a larger role than others.

Aims

The overall objective of this study is to explore the undergraduate ideas of students regarding study abroad programs and to determine the extent to which these ideas correspond to the growing importance that society attaches to multicultural competence. To achieve this goal, first of all, it is necessary to study the documented advantages of study abroad programs and subsequently determine the basic level of students’ awareness of the available programs; (b) the estimated value of these programs; and (c) barriers to participation related to experience abroad. Special attention will be paid to these two last points since it is believed that they are the most relevant of the three objectives.

Study Questions

The above goal and objectives give rise to several applicable research questions that remain relevant throughout the study:

  • How did a study abroad programs prove useful for students?
  • To what extent are students aware of study opportunities abroad?
  • What obstacles, according to students, impede their ability to participate in the study abroad program?
  • How accessible, according to students, are study abroad programs as a result of the identified obstacles?

Elements of both the case study and the cross-section design are used in the study of the above purpose, objectives, and research questions. As part of a case study at Eli Broad Business College at Moscow State University, an example of how the department is a reasonable representation of the collective admission of student entrepreneurs studying at universities in Europe (Bryman, 2012). This group is homogeneous enough to be analyzed in a wider context, with increased attention being paid to variables that are more likely to fluctuate. Thanks to the largest MSU study abroad program, the level of awareness, general knowledge, and capabilities in relation to these programs are likely to be more pronounced than in other areas of study.

Thanks to a review of existing literature, the distribution of questionnaires, relevant data is collected, analyzed, and presented in the following sections. Using these two methods in combination with each other will help fill potential gaps that could otherwise arise from the concentrated use of a single approach, which ultimately will increase the likelihood of obtaining comprehensive results. The mostly qualitative data collected tends to provide a higher level of understanding of the undergraduate students ’thoughts, opinions, and perceptions regarding study abroad programs than a purely quantitative approach. As a result of the implementation of these methods, the most relevant and applicable data were obtained.

Restrictions

Throughout the study, all attempts were made to achieve accuracy, accuracy, and attention to detail in anticipation of achieving meaningful and useful results. Despite this, there may remain some factors that limit the general and precise nature of the study. These factors deserve due attention, and it is hoped that, as a result of their consideration, readers will remain free to draw their own conclusions about the completeness of the study. The following are some of the most important factors that may influence research processes or data:

Delivery Method — Since it was almost impossible to put the subjects of this study in the position of mandatory participation, there may be a small risk of potential bias in the resulting data set. It is expected that the likelihood that students will share special personality traits and characteristics unique to those who choose to participate in such a study voluntarily will be minimal.

The frequency of responses to the questionnaires – the physical presence of the researcher to monitor the spread of the questionnaires was impossible due to geographical extremes, which led to the inevitable use of electronic communication. In terms of using the Internet and e-mail to distribute questionnaires, enticing participation has proven extremely difficult, despite the use of various motivational methods. As a result, the response rate achieved is too low to provide comprehensive and convincing comparable data. However, some of the answers were agreed to the extent that they were still useful for the analysis carried out as part of this study.

Available literature. Attempts have been made to include a reference to the existing scope of research already conducted for both those who did and those who did not study abroad. This turns out to be somewhat difficult since there is a wide range of work aimed at students, but significantly less work focused on students who have not done so.

Significance of Research

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Many practical barriers to study abroad have been identified by students and universities and beyond. Although these barriers require consideration and require the implementation and use of various strategies to overcome them, they have proved to be largely surmountable. Despite the variety of approaches available to overcome these barriers (scholarships, loans, reduced fares, etc.), there are still many university students who differ from outwardly unfavorable to over-enthusiastic students who complete their undergraduate studies without international experience. This study is an attempt to understand the attitude and prohibitions of students in order to better understand the difference between the well-known benefits of study abroad programs and the relatively low participation rates.

A significant amount of research has been conducted on study abroad programs, participating students, and the positive impact that these programs can have on individuals, communities, and the country as a whole. Although this approach is useful and useful in many ways, it inadvertently distracts attention from a large group that may benefit from more attention: those who have not studied abroad. With this in mind, the following pages focus on both students who choose to participate and those who do not have to get an idea of ​​the corresponding similarities and differences between the two groups.

Along with a better understanding of student attitudes and limitations, which are perceived as insurmountable for foreign experience, there is an opportunity to inspire action. We hope that the results of this study will provide useful information about the perceptions and opinions of undergraduate students in relation to study abroad, as well as help consolidate and strengthen the totality of studies already conducted in this field.

Basic concepts and theories

Globalization

It is almost impossible to study the attitude of students towards studying abroad without considering the growing impact of globalization on modern society. Regardless of the wide variety of opinions regarding the subtleties of the definition of the term “globalization,” is undoubtedly a significant and effective factor in the growing importance of studying abroad.

As mentioned earlier, advances in technology, communications, and infrastructure facilitate travel and intercultural integration. As this continues, attributes such as knowledge, understanding, and cultural tolerance will be paramount to the development and maintenance of peace, trade, productivity, and the achievements of all types. Taking this into account in connection with the educational context, the market demand for these attributes requires a shift in focus and substantial updates not only in the curriculum taught at universities but also in the way it is taught (Green; Waks, 2006).

Implementing study abroad programs is often considered one of the most effective tools for providing students with the necessary skills for survival and prosperity in a globally focused atmosphere of the 21st century (Goodman & Berdan, 2013).

Cognitive Development

In this article, it is necessary to demonstrate the link between international experience and personal valuables in order to create a solid foundation for supporting and promoting study abroad programs (Lee, Therriault & Linderholm, 2012). Fortunately, the research done on the positive effects of studying abroad has been quite extensive, covering many areas. However, despite this, some areas of a more specific nature have become less attentive and focused. One of these areas is the influence of studying abroad on creative processes.

A program abroad enhances creativity both in culture and in general. Before this study, there were many preconceptions that people who studied abroad, as well as people who had a strong inclination to study abroad, they had common features, such as a tendency to learn a foreign language or a lower level of ethnocentrism, which may contribute to a higher level of creativity (Goldstein & Kim, cited in Lee et al., 2012.)

Common Barriers and Solutions

Since studying abroad has not yet become the main subject of the curriculum, it is clear that participation has led to the emergence of numerous barriers. Fortunately, many of these barriers have been reduced and often eliminated through time, research, education, and various other achievements. The next section will present some of the most common obstacles, followed by a limited discussion of possible solutions that can help overcome them. It is also worth bearing in mind that students who cite the following barriers as sufficient justification for not studying abroad can provide either “proof of an active barrier to participation or a retroactive rationale for not participating” (Salisbury, et al., 2008, p. 7).

Personal Safety

Caring for personal well-being and security often accompanies the prospect of a trip to an unfamiliar country. Some students who are considering studying abroad for programs have never gone beyond their own country, which makes international travel a bit intimidating. Although this problem can significantly subside depending on the country or place in question, it can easily be overcome by observing trends in a particular area, collecting relevant information, and consciously using common sense and awareness (MSU: Health nd).

Finance

Money is a serious problem for most people and is regularly mentioned as one of the main reasons for not working abroad. Although some amount of savings or income is beneficial, the problem is too often misunderstood as an insurmountable obstacle. Thanks to various scholarships, loans, grants, and other forms of assistance, the financial barrier can be reduced to almost negligible levels (NASFA, 2003). Scholarships alone come in various forms, such as merit-based, student-specific, destination-specific, program-specific, and subject-specific. Scholarships may cover some or all of the programs, as well as help pay for flights, food, books, or accommodation (StudyAbroad.com, n.a.). According to one source, a little more than half of the participating students plan to use one or another form of financial assistance, while the majority of the remaining students were not aware of this possibility (see Figure 3) (ibid.).

Research Methods

Since the essence of this study is mainly research in nature, the search for answers to the research questions raised above is mainly based on an inductive approach. If we take another step forward, then we can say that the abductive approach is a more relevant descriptor, since any theoretical explanation obtained retains its usefulness, since it retains control over the specific reality of this participant. Despite a greater concentration on the inductive or abductive approach, it cannot be said that some deductive elements will not be used, since in most situations it is almost impossible to strictly adhere to one process without some help from another (Bryman, 2012). In addition to this approach will be the significant use of qualitative methods that are consistent with the achievement of the goal and objectives of the study. A much smaller focus is on using quantitative methods that remain capable of providing support and balancing qualitative data.

Research Strategy

Considering the topic of the attitude and prohibition of students to study abroad, the platform, which provides a wider range of original answers and the possibility of education through previously unforeseen elements, is extremely profitable. The qualitative approach not only allows this, but also provides students with an adequate environment for conveying the subtleties of the human state through bending, tone, and emotions that contribute to the quality, depth, and richness of the data obtained. Perhaps the most widely used method for conducting qualitative research is polling. The popularity of this method is not the result of random occurrence, but rather the flexibility, efficiency, and accuracy that are offered through the use of the interview process, which makes it ideal for this study (Bryman, 2012).

The data collected during the survey turned out to be fruitful in terms of reflecting the unique points of view of the participating students in the context of what they consider relevant and important (Bryman, 2012).

Research Results and Discussions

New topics and subtopics resulting from a thematic analysis were divided into sections below to maintain clarity and simplicity. Since it turned out that they have a strong influence on subsequent areas, the effect of previous travel experiences on perception is described first. This section is followed by students’ awareness of the opportunities available as a result of such reasoning. Then the discourse moves on to two main areas of attention, the first of which defines various forms of value, which are perceived as related to the curriculum, and ends with a discussion of the obstacles that prevent participation.

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