How can universities provide better intercultural skills training and coping strategies to outgoing students to make them more mindful of problems and how to make solutions on the YA?
I have completed two years abroad, in Spain and Mexico. Spain was largely a very positive experience, however my experience in Mexico was not at all apart from the travelling. I'm interested in universities developing workshops and other initiatives to develop students develop intercultural competence so they are empowered spending time abroad and adapting to the new culture/ surroundings and ultimately, reduce the risk of mental health issues and allow the experience to be more productive. I am fed up of people saying 'you have to be more open minded' when I am struggling with the culture or that 'it's just part of the process'. I agree that there is a process we pass through when learning about and living in another culture, however we need more open discussion about things and less bravado of being able to cope wonderfully. Part of the reason I endured the rest of my stay in Mexico was because, as a graduate, I was ashamed to come home and deeply believed this reflected me as a failure, for giving up the place I worked for with such determination and for appearing as if I was unable to adapt to the culture. As a keen budding interculturalist leaving the placement, in my mind, would have been detrimental to my future career development. I'll look forward to hearing others' views about what activities and support we can develop and offer to students.