MILSA

Program structure

The mentoring program for study abroad is currently being developed and tested in two trial phases from May 2016 to June 2017 (trial I) and from October 2016 to November 2017 (trial II). 

The program supports outgoing students in their intercultural learning processes before, during and after their stay abroad. Only students who are enrolled at the University of Bern can participate.

Structure

The program is structured in four parts. Participants are expected to take part in all the activities of the mentoring program.

Introduction session

If you are thinking of joining the program, you should attend the introduction session when we will be explaining the aim and goals of the program, why intercultural learning is important for you, and what you have to gain. The introduction session will give you the opportunity to receive information about the program, ask questions and to decide if you want to register or not. Also, you will hear what we expect of you, how the program works, how participation and peer mentoring work and what the activities and requirements of the program are. The introduction session serves as an introduction to the program and attending it will allow you to make a well-based decision about attendance.

Pre-departure session

In the pre-departure session, we will look at intercultural learning, its meaning, relevance and problems. With some theoretical input, exercises and group work we will negotiate what it means to be an intercultural learner in preparation of your time abroad. ‘Interculturality’, ‘culture’ and other related and equally complex terms will be discussed. We will discuss the expectations that you have for your study abroad. You will form a peer group with two to three other participants from the University of Bern, and we will inform you about the activities during the study abroad and your responsibilities towards your peers.

During study abroad

While you are away, you will stay in touch with your mentor in Bern, as well as with your peer group. We will communicate via a shared online platform on ILIAS. On the platform, a blog and other means of communication will ensure that we stay in touch. Your mentor will send tasks to the groups, and will talk to you via Skype at least once. Your engagement goes three ways: first, communication with all participants, secondly communication with your mentor and thirdly with your peers.

Post-sojourn session

After your return, we will organize a post-sojourn session that will allow you to reconnect with the other participants in person, in particular with the members of your peer group. We will exchange experiences of going abroad and coming home, and will concern ourselves with your study abroad as an asset for your future professional life.

The program supports students in...

  • learning to talk about the study abroad experience in view of future professional interviews 
  • acquiring learning strategies and skills for positive learning experiences at the host university
  • reflecting on personal role and experiences and developing a self-critical stance and self-awareness
  • learning to formulate expectations and dealing with (inter)cultural situations and social realities 
  • learning to deal with stereotypes and prejudice
  • settling in the new social and cultural environment

Requirements

Participants are required to participate in the pre-departure and post-sojourn sessions in Bern, and to stay in regular contact with the mentor and with the peer group. Furthermore, participants are asked to submit several short pieces of writing during their time abroad, to conduct one Skype interview and to fulfill a task with their peer group.

Gain

Students who have participated will receive an official confirmation of participation from the University of Bern. The confirmation will list the intercultural communications skills, learning and competence the student has acquired during the study abroad and as a participant of the program. 

What the program offers

The mentoring program offers students the opportunity of developing and enhancing their intercultural learning and intercultural communication skills.

What the program does not offer

The MILSA program does not offer a peer mentoring system with students from the host university; it does not offer practical support in terms of finding a place to stay or choosing courses at the host university.