National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 9 (2013)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Everyone likes to get a joke. Those who catch the humor feel included among the others who find it funny. Conversely, those who fail to catch the punchline can feel excluded, leading to frustration, resentment, or even anger toward those who got it. Like a well-timed joke, many study abroad experiences offer opportunities for all people at a university to get it: a broadened global perspective gleaned from interpersonal engagement with cultural others in an international setting. Unfortunately, and far too often, the campus majority who do not have this firsthand travel experience remain disengaged and might feel excluded. We contend, though, that participants are not the only people to benefit from international study; veterans of study abroad, as they share their experiences through multiple channels with others, enhance the campus and community in new and transformative ways.

Student interest in international study is growing among both students coming to the U.S. and U.S. students studying in other countries. Brain Track, a popular site assisting international students coming to the United States (US), reports data from the Institute of International Education (IIE) indicating “the number of international students in the US reached an all-time high at over 600,000. Additionally, annual inquiries from prospective international students sent to the US Department of State have recently reached 25 million” (2011). The Christian Science Monitor published results from a 2010 report by the IIE documenting 270,604 American students studying abroad in the 2009–2010 academic year, a rise of nearly four percent over the previous year. “This figure has more than tripled in the past two decades, with the number of students studying abroad increasing every year” (Mach).