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With the commencement of the Erasmus student exchange programme, opportunities of studying abroad have been offered by universities in Turkey. While students apply to this programme mainly for increasing their language proficiency, gaining a global perspective and getting the chance to travel Europe, a significant outcome is learning about and being able to live in a different culture. There is consensus on the fact that higher education institutions can maximize such benefits of the study abroad experience by designing pre-departure training. By preparing students about culture-specific facts, problems that are likely to be encountered can be minimized. On the other hand, it can be claimed that difficulties related to the ‘surface-culture’ are easier to deal with, whereas issues of ‘deep-culture’ can cause more serious problems for the students if they are not prepared beforehand. In this paper, it is argued that Turkish students’ experiences of intercultural encounters in the host country provide a rich resource for preparation to the ‘deep culture’ and minimizing the problems related to them. However, student reflections show that these experiences are often ignored by higher education institutions and educators. The study was carried out with Turkish students who study English Language and Literature at a state university in Turkey and who returned from the Erasmus exchange programme. An interview was conducted to let students reflect on the most problematic intercultural encounters they had, which was the focus of the study. The collection of their narratives was analyzed and the emerging themes were identified. It is suggested that pre-departure training should give more emphasis on developing the necessary coping strategies by referring to the specific incidents experienced by the returned students.

Anahtar Kelimeler

Erasmus; exchange programmes; study abroad; intercultural education; intercultural communication.

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