Living In...

Living in Europe. A useful sojourn abroad is anthropology: living among people whose culture is new to us, to learn more about them and about ourselves.

Students arrive in Europe eager to benefit from an extended stay by going beyond the "tourist-y" experience but quickly realizing, at the same time, that they are not permanent, local, residents.

The first step is when students become aware of their own possibly romanticized and simplified views of the host culture, views that may have built up in them from tourist blogs, movies, books, social media and even their university courses when some facets of European reality being studied may be exaggerated at the expense of others.

IFE staff and programming help students early on to process exterior different-ness and its impact on their own attitudes. As rosy preconceptions fall away, students often go through several phases of their feelings towards local life and individuals: just-like-me; totally-foreign-to-me; exotic; off-putting; and finally, hopefully, different but knowable and likable.

Then, through daily experience, and IFE instruction and activities, students are let to reflect on the why’s of host culture norms, habits, values and the way host society is organized. Inevitably this leads students to recognize their preconceptions about their own culture and society, in a usefully critical way.

By the time an IFE student begins their internship, they are able to join in with local culture and work, having gotten beyond neo-colonial stereotypes about sameness/difference and whose “normal” is normal. They develop an understanding of societal nuances and specific features of work life, social life and issues like education, healthcare or the environment.

Throughout the IFE semester of exposure, reflection and analysis, students acquire the intangibles of another’s heritage or,

Ultimately, the day-to-day participation, once achieved, results in turn in new ways of thinking about the world, others and themselves.


Living in...Asturias     Living in...Brussels     Living in...Paris     Living in...Strasbourg