Intercultural competence needs of exchange students coming to or going abroad from the university of Costa Rica
Internationalization of higher education is a process in constant development that has occurred over many years. It involves efforts of the entire academic community and the implementation of diverse strategies. Focusing on the academic exchange, the less developed regions face certain particularities that limit them. The following study portraits this situation from the perspective of intercultural competence, in the context of one Latin American University, the University of Costa Rica (UCR). It explores the intercultural competence needs of exchange students, whose common ground is the UCR. The population considered in the study are regular students of the University of Costa Rica, who participate as exchange students and exchange students who come to the institution. The study analyses the perceived role of intercultural competence in the exchange process by concentrating on university students' experiences and perceptions. In addition to understanding the phenomenon from the student point-of-view, the study looks at increasing and developing the kind of communication competence necessary for a successful exchange experience. The data consists of 142 answers to an online questionnaire. The results show that open-mindedness, and past experiences are important to adapt and re-adapt faster; results also show that support groups are very important in the adaptation and re-adaptation process. Finally, the results indicate that despite the amount of information people have in hand, more information regarding key issues such as adaptation, migratory procedures, and education is usually considered beneficial. The study reveals, as a general conclusion, that internationalization processes need interculturally competent people, open-minded and culturally aware individuals. Therefore, it is important to promote the development and improvement of people’s intercultural competences, in order to facilitate successful intercultural encounters. ...
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