COMM4485/UX 307

Advanced Intercultural: studyabroad.comm


Instructor: Marilyn J. Matelski (

St. Mary's Hall, Room 451, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617.552.4988

"Studyabroad.comm" is a web-based, advanced intercultural communication course for Communication/International Studies majors as well as others studying abroad. Offered by “permission only” by the instructor, this course fulfills the cultural diversity core requirement. Students must meet with the instructor prior to going abroad to discuss projects, assignments, required readings, etc. .



Travelling abroad is often an invaluable part of a students’ college experience–it may, in fact, shape futures in ways that cannot be foreseen. The purpose of this course is to measure the "immeasurable," in three ways: 1) to extend students’ intercultural scholarship through field research; 2) to prepare them for possible senior theses in some aspect of intercultural/international communication; and 3) to help them to create a world view corresponding to the rising demands of globalization.



Since this is a web-based, distance learning experience, attendance is measured by e-mail correspondence and assignments, usually occurring at least once a week. This will serve as your "participation" grade. Assignments via Internet will include 1) chat-room questions; 2) intercultural awareness exercises; 3) comments on readings (attached to weekly e-mails; 4) e-journal entries, which will be submitted weekly; and 5) research assignments. "Papers" and other correspondence should be sent as attachments to e-mail messages.



1) Digital camera (to complement electronic journal entries)

2) The Lonely Planet Travel Guide or a comparable travel guide for the country studied

3) Daily access to a local newspaper

4) Assigned theoretical readings (which will be provided via attachment or hyperlink)

5) Your address and account




1) Electronic Journal (25-30 pages) [30%]

Using both text and digital photography, entries will cover specific topics such as culture shock, stereotyping, images of Americans and America abroad, language difficulties, media influences, and differences in world views. These topics will be assigned each week through e-mail correspondence, and will usually be accompanied by theoretical articles/essays which should be included in the week’s entries. Each e-journal entry should be submitted within 5 days of the assigned topic(s).


2) National Digest (5-7 pages) [20%]

This summary should include all sources of news/information available to nationals (not international visitors), their availability, costs, and popularity.


3) National Reflections (3-4 pages) [10%]

A "front-page" American news story (with international implications) will be assigned via e-mail. Students will then compare the American "version" with the perspective reflected in their local newspapers.


4) Life Story Project (10-12 pages) [30%]

This paper explores different cultural perspectives on such issues as gender roles, holiday celebration, media influence, and family relationships. Your job is to interview someone you have met during your study abroad. This can be a student, a member of a family where you may be living, a distant (or not so distant) relative who now lives in the country where you are studying, etc.

Before collecting your data, create a descriptive "profile" for the person you've chosen to interview. This profile should include basic demographic information such as: 1) gender; 2) age; 3) marital status; 4) education level; 5) economic class; and 6) relationship to you.

Next, answer the questions below yourself; and compare those answers with your interviewee. Based on these answers, formulate the cultural similarities and differences between your national identity and that of your interviewee.

Here are the questions:
1. How many generations has your family lived in this country? Do you know the circumstances through which they came? If so, what were they?
2. What historical moment was most memorable to you when you were a child?
3. Who was your hero as a child? Why?
4. What was your favorite holiday as a child? Why?
5. What was your first job? How did you get it?
6. Do you have many "family" dinners? What are they like?
7. What is your favorite form of entertainment?
8. Is religion an important part of your life? Why or why not?
9. What is your neighborhood like?

This paper (10-12 pages in length, complete with citations and interview quotes), is worth 30% of your grade.

Be sure to provide specific quotes from your interview to compare your cultural identity with that of your interviewee; and include other citations as needed, using a citation style you’ve identified on the cover page).

*Note: While this paper is intended to be your final paper, it can be submitted earlier than the final week of the semester if your abroad schedule differs greatly than that of BC.

5) Participation (in shared reflections, if desired; e-journal assignments, etc.) [10%]