Demystifying the developmental trajectories of Chinese semester-abroad sojourners

Demystifying the developmental trajectories of Chinese semester-abroad sojourners

27 Mar 2019 15:00 15:20

27-March-2019 / Wednesday / 15:00 - 15:20


Contemporary study abroad research challenges the ‘myth’ that second language sojourners experience automatic transformation (e.g., linguistic, cultural, personal) after spending some time abroad (Jackson, 2018). To demystify the ‘myth’, a mixed-method, longitudinal study was conducted at a bilingual (Chinese-English) Hong Kong university that annually sends ~1000 outbound international exchange students. To foster a deeper understanding of the multifarious factors that affect sojourn learning, data of multiple sources (e.g., questionnaire surveys, in-depth interviews, email reflections, sojourn images) were collected before, during, immediately after, and six months after the exchange semester. Qualitative, quantitative, and multimodal data that were gathered over one year and two months were compared and triangulated. This presentation centers on the developmental trajectories of seven focal case participants who joined a semester-long international exchange program in an English-speaking country, with a particular focus on the participants’ language and intercultural development (e.g., language/intercultural attitudes, intercultural sensitivity, global-mindedness). The study identified a range of individual differences and external factors that appeared to influence the sojourners’ language/intercultural learning and (non)engagement in the host environment, highlighting the idiosyncratic nature of study abroad. The findings provided directions for future study abroad programming for international educators, program officers/administrators, student advisers/counselors, etc. in Asia and beyond.


  1. develop a deeper understanding of different developmental trajectories of outbound Chinese student sojourners from a Hong Kong university who participated in a semester-long international exchange program; • gain deeper insights into the influencing factors (e.g., internal, environmental) in international/intercultural learning;
  2. become more aware of the directions in future study abroad programming and the support that sending/receiving institutions can offer to international exchange students;
  3. recognize the merits of collecting mixed-method, longitudinal data in education/study abroad research.


Ms Tongle Sun 
PhD Student,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong

Tongle Sun is a PhD student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a recipient of the Hong Kong Postgraduate Fellowship. For her PhD research, she is investigating the language and intercultural learning of STEM students from a Hong Kong university who took part in an international exchange program.