The students who attended the IEREST modules in Spring 2014 are now abroad and the IEREST intercultural path does not stop with their departure. On the contrary, students will be involved in the IEREST teaching activities through an open source learning management system. The original groups of students as well as new participants – who are always welcome - will meet online to carry out the three teaching activities the IEREST team have designed in order to help them develop their intercultural understanding and awareness while abroad. The teaching activities are titled “Intercultural geography”, “24h Erasmus Life”, and “Experiencing (interculturality through) volunteering”, and encourage students to engage in the new environment and critically reflect on their experiences. Overall the activities pursue learning objectives such as:
· Exploring and reflecting on their emotional reactions towards living abroad, going beyond easy attributions of their emotional states to (cultural) diversities (e.g., homesickness, language constraints, autonomy which may be felt as loneliness, etc.), and positive feelings (e.g., excitement, willingness to engage, curiosity, empathy).
· Reflecting on how communication in academic communities is shaped—despite European integration—by differing histories, expectations and attitudes towards learning.
· Examining how using another language—more or less successfully—can affect one’s self-image (and capacity to project an image) and one’s cultural identity and feeling of belonging.
· Observing the pragmatics of using language as a lingua franca and how flouting the socially acknowledged linguistic rules can interfere with interpersonal communication.
Thanks to the bonds created between teachers and students in module 1 and to the students’ first-hand experiences of different Erasmus destinations, our aim is to offer students a safe place where they can reflect together on what is happening during their everyday Erasmus life.