A rite of passage? Exploring youth transformation and global citizenry in the study abroad experience

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tourism Recreation Research, 2017, 42 (2), pp. 139 - 149
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Travel, long recognised as a rite of passage, is often also touted as a transformative experience which facilitates cross-cultural understanding, fosters an embrace of diversity and promotes global awareness. This process is aligned with youth development and has a rich history in the tourism literature. The importance of transformational travel, however, has now spread to programmes across the higher education landscape, with the recognition that travel has the potential to nurture a global citizenry. Additionally, for many young people, the motivation for studying abroad is to assist in the transition to adulthood. In this way, educational travel is similar to an ‘overseas experience’ or a ‘gap year’. It is often taken at an important time of transition in emerging adulthood, for example, from school to work. We argue that this period of identity formation for youth can be likened to a rite of passage much like the Grand Tour of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was for young European men and women. Our paper examines the role of the study abroad experience in promoting youth transformation and global citizenry.
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