Processing Your Experiences

The acronym SCOUT provides a useful reminder of ways to process your experiences and information gathered during your time abroad. SCOUT. It is a five step process.

  1. Suspend Judgment - Suspend judgment in your interactions with your hosts. Otherwise, you will be passing judgment according to cultural assumptions you are familiar with-most likely those of mainstream American culture, but which simply do not apply in the foreign culture as they do at home.
  2. Collect Data - Gather information about events that occur which you don't feel you understand. Check the context and look for details you might have missed.
  3. Organize information - What are all the possible alternative explanations and interpretations of your data?
  4. Utilize Resources - Tap into your network of contacts for help in reading the situation in the context of the new culture, that is, ask for advice from people who understand the culture.
  5. Test Results - Evaluate the date you obtained from the prior four steps, come up with an explanation, then test your thesis in future similar situations. Correct any misjudgments as you gather new information and make new, more accurate interpretations.

Every person's experience will be unique. This introduction to cultural competencies is meant to help make you more aware of the lens through which you view your own culture and those of others.  Many people have gone before you and embarked upon their own cultural adventures.  Click on the videos below to hear some of their recommendations.

Keep in mind that there is no "gold standard" when it comes to cross-cultural experiences that cultures have many aspects and levels and each experience will be different.