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The purpose of this study was to examine how College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Leadership Institute participants experienced cultural adaptation during a seven-day short-term study abroad experience in Costa Rica. The CALS Leadership Institute is a 17-month program focusing on leadership development through, leadership modules, mentor relationships, service learnings, and international travel. The service learning experience took place in Costa Rica and provided the participants an opportunity to help with wildlife rehabilitation. Participants’ experienced the following stages of cultural adaptation: Initial feelings, cultural uncertainty, cultural barriers, cultural negativity, academic and career development, feelings throughout the program, and cultural growth. As participants navigated various stages of cultural adaptation, cultural integration occurred. Participants who focused on cultural integration took cultural adaptation a step further. Their actions fit into the culture while visiting the country, and they planned to incorporate portions of the host country’s culture into their everyday lives. The anticipation of integrating a different culture into their life signifies that the participant has moved beyond the adaption stage and into the integration or assimilation stage of cultural adaptation.


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Smowy Mountains and Lake