20 SES 08, Developing Teachers and Learners for Collaborative Teaching and Learning Environments
Parallel Paper Session
Nowadays, higher education students more often cross borders to study in a foreign country. In particular, previous research has shown that exchange students benefit from this experience (Suanet, & Van de Vijver, 2009). In that sense, the present study aims to examine how intercultural competences help students to adapt successfully to the new culture. According to the Multicultural Personality Model (Van Oudenhoven & Van der Zee, 2001), there are five key factors that ease intercultural adaptation. Concretely, factors as cultural empathy, openmindedness, emotional Stability, social initiative, and flexibility have been related to physically and emotionally adjustment in different countries (Van Oudenhoven & Van der Zee, 2002; Leong, 2007).
In addition, in line with Ward´s model (2001), adaptation may be meaningfully divided into two domains: 1) Psychological domain (emotional/affective) and 2) Sociocultural (behavioral) domain related to the ability to “fit in'' to acquire culturally appropriate skills and to negotiate interactive aspects of the host environment. Based on the former models, we suggest the need to examine the relationship between intercultural competences and specific outcomes as psychological and physical health, social support and life satisfaction among exchange students in a new culture. However, we expect that culture background will moderate the relationship between intercultural competences and adaptation outcomes. That is, students come from different cultures with similar or dissimilar characteristics to the host culture that might affect the way they adapt to the new context. In order to successfully integrate into their ‘adopted’ countries, students must learn to understand, communicate and cooperate with those around them. In that respect intercultural competences development may help students adaptation.
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