When it came time last spring to begin thinking of what I wanted to research for my honors project, I honestly had no idea of what I wanted to do. I knew it had to be this 25 page paper and 20 minute presentation at the Mount’s annual SPARC Festival, but I didn’t know how to even start academic research. I had thought about different experiences I had had during my time at the Mount, including writing for the student-newspaper, working in the Office of Social Justice, and studying abroad twice.
Ultimately, my passion for travelling and learning about other countries and cultures led me to pursue a project linked with this idea. I also knew I wanted my project to have a helpful solution and outcome that could benefit other students. I had gone to other Honors presentations in the past where although the topic seemed interesting and rigorous, the project did not really affect anyone else or help to make something better.
With all of this in mind, I developed my project titled, “Wanderlust: The Impact of Studying Abroad on the Student College Experience.” This project seeks to understand what studying abroad can do for students and how to it affects them academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
To complete this project, I have a series of components that I must do. First, I have a literature review where I am reading articles, studies, and books that discuss how studying abroad impacts college students.
As for the research component, I am conducting research with a mixed-methods approach. I created and sent out a survey to the entire student population specifically for students who have studied abroad with the Mount, to see how their study abroad experience impacted their time at the Mount.
Additionally, I am conducting interviews with students who are currently studying abroad. Conducting these interviews will be helpful to my research because the study abroad experience will be at the forefront of the students’ minds since they will be wrapping up their experience abroad. To do this, I will be traveling to Dublin, Ireland next month along with Dr. Kennedy to conduct interviews in person, which research suggests is the best way to collect this type of qualitative data.
Along with these interviews, I will be scheduling short interviews with Mount faculty members who have led or taught on study abroad trips in order to gauge their perspective on student growth through the study abroad experience.
All in all, I hope this project will be able to strengthen the Mount’s current offerings in the Foreign Study program and will encourage Mount students to consider taking a leap of faith by going on a study abroad trip. I am excited to see where my research takes me, literally and figuratively, and am looking forward to sharing my results in April with the Mount community at the Mount’s annual SPARC festival.