Interpretation of my score

 

When your overall responses fall on the low side of the intensity factors scale (10 - 39).

This might be because you believe that the country you are going to will seem very similar or familiar to home. You may have even been there before. Or, if it is your first time abroad and you are going to an English-speaking country, you may feel that since they speak "your language" and their culture is European-derived, that your adjustment will be relatively easy. It might also be low because you are going to study abroad in an area and in a language you already feel comfortable with because of your ethnic heritage, such as studying in Mexico as a U.S. Mexican American or in Vietnam as a Vietnamese American. You may well be correct in your assessment, but we simply caution that a low score might also suggest that you are underestimating the degree to which such intensity factors might impact you. We suggest that rather than be complacent about your ability to "fit in," you look a little deeper into the intensity factors and try to be as objective and honest as you can in your self-assessment. That way you can be prepared for things that otherwise would catch you by surprise.

When your overall responses fall within the middle range of the intensity factors scale (40 - 79).

It seems likely that you have a reasonable idea of what kinds of issues with might to arise while you are overseas, even if it is only a guess. Since you have identified at least some of the factors as relevant to your situation and the country you are going to study in, you are in a position to work out strategies to deal with those elements which might cause you the most stress. Realizing in advance what elements you might have to deal with gives you the ability to conceptualize appropriate responses and be prepared to encounter them. If it turns out later that you over - or under-estimated some of these, at least you have raised your consciousness about potential areas of concern and that should help you make a better adjustment in any case.

When your overall  responses fall at the high end of the intensity factors scale (80 -100).

This score could indicate several things. One is that you are correct that the country you are going to and the circumstances of your study abroad program are such that the number of stressors will be high. For example, a US-American woman of European, non-Muslim descent who is studying abroad in a rural middle-eastern context will find that high visibility, degree of cultural difference, and ethnocentrism are likely to be quite high. A Caucasian male or female going to areas of Central Africa are likely to find the same factors significant, although there will also be many differences.

On the other hand, a high score might indicate that you are either overestimating your potential degree of difficulty or have developed a high anxiety about the trip. Only you can determine if your perception of intensity factors seems accurate, but you might want to check with people recently returned from your intended study abroad site to compare your projections with their actual experience. It is good to "worry" about your upcoming study abroad experience if it leads you to seek out an accurate and reliable picture of what you will face, but "obsessing" about it is generally unproductive. On the other hand, if you "prepare for the worst" and it turns out to be much easier than anticipated, at least you were ready for anything by having seriously considered the intensity factors.


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