Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Terrie Epstein

Subject Categories

International and Comparative Education


There is general agreement that positive student learning outcomes are associated with participation in study abroad. The aim of this paper is to explore how participation in study abroad by community college students impacts their global learning. While studies about the impact of study abroad are plentiful for senior colleges, research about community college students’ experiences is lacking. Furthermore, while studies about how study abroad impacts language acquisition or cultural awareness are common, there is a need for more research about the impact of study abroad programs on global self-awareness. Additionally, this paper explores how students who are ‘emerging adults’ might be learning about the world in specific ways given the nature of this developmental stage. This phenomenological study explores the experiences of five, second-year community college students who participated in a short-term, faculty-led study abroad program in China. Data show that there is a range of learning outcomes that occur as a result of studying abroad for the five interviewees, such as expanded sense of one’s capacities, increased ability to connect with others, identification of family/community as inspiration to study abroad and an understanding of connections of the self to the global context. Limitations in the findings include lack of pre-travel/baseline interviews from which to compare, as well as a pre-existing interviewee-interviewer relationship. This research provides implications for improved pre, during and post travel trainings and curricular models, as well as more equitable, culturally-relevant study abroad policies. The paper ends with suggestions for future research. (Keywords: Global Learning, Self-Awareness, Study Abroad, Emerging Adult)