Brown University Survey: Factors that Influenced Host Culture Treatment

Global Engagements Fellowship

In a survey conducted by Brown University, students who studied abroad were asked what they thought were the two most important factors influencing their treatment in the host culture. The survey, however, does not identify where each student traveled. The results conclude that the most influential factor for 43% of the students was their identity as an American.

An American identity in foreign countries has a strong potential to draw American stereotypes, which is likely why it is the most common factor. Language, surveyed by 19% of the students, is also a cultural identifier. I conclude that presumed stereotypes of a certain culture/group play the largest part in host treatment culture. In addition, physical appearance was reported as the most important influence by another 19% as well. This deviates slightly from the prominent cultural identifiers. While it isn’t explicit from the survey whether the treatment was better or worse, someone who varies significantly in appearance may encounter issues linked to unfamiliarity from the host family.

The second most influential factor is largely gender. This is likely associated with varying gender roles in different cultures. Identity as an American and the language spoken remain dominant factors in the second recorded survey, suggesting that these two factors were likely recorded by the majority of the students participating as either the most influential factor, or the second most influential factor.

Ethnicity/ heritage and minority/majority status both appear as other factors, likely contributions to perceived stereotypes as well, but not as dominant carriers of assumptions as the other factors.

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