Researching whole people and whole lives
In tracing the author’s own emerging insights into study abroad, this chapter contextualizes key aspects of the phenomenon. It queries widely accepted approaches and instruments, and asks whether, in attempting to achieve significant generalizations, we have sometimes distorted reality by narrowing our definitions and our measures, and by leaving crucial information unconsidered or even unstated. The chapter challenges the legitimacy of the expression “the study abroad context”, arguing that both contextual and individual variation contribute, together with social networks, to the essential fluidity and complexity of the study abroad experience. Elements of a recent long-term study illustrate a more comprehensive perspective.