Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Anderson, Denise M

Committee Member

Schmalz , Dorothy

Committee Member

Ramshaw , Gregory


In an attempt to create rigorous study abroad programs, international educators frequently debate the design of study abroad programs. Design elements include intercultural contact, level of immersion and the balance of structured and unstructured activities (Sutton, Miller, & Rubin, 2007). International education researchers have found that unstructured free time, or leisure, during study abroad programming gives students opportunities to connect with the host culture and leads to attitude changes in how students feel about themselves as well as how they perceive the host country and its citizens (McCabe, 1994; Meyer-Lee & Warfield, 2006; Nyaupane, Teye & Paris, 2008). However, no research has explored students' use of free time during their study abroad program and its contribution to development from a leisure perspective.
The purpose of this study was to examine study abroad participants' reflections on their leisure activities and companions during study abroad. Semi-structured interviews, supported by personal photographs from the students' time abroad, were carried out approximately a month after the students returned home from a semester-long residential program in the European Union. Findings determined that the amount of cross-cultural contact between the American students and the host nationals was low due to student motivations and program design features. Additionally, the little contact Americans did have with host nationals was influenced by the conditions of contact theory. Students spent the majority of their leisure time with other American students or visiting friends and family engaging in travel to other European countries or observing the local culture. The implications for study abroad programming are discussed.



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