This study offers a theoretical construct for better understanding how experiential learning enables student teachers to acquire social and cultural variation skills, develop cultural empathy in the K-12 classroom, and the transference of these skills to new educational situations. An Australian and United States research team used a phenomenological approach to explore the connections between the skills student teachers acquire and the application of these newly developed skills to professional practices. Participants were a group of United States pre-teachers who enrolled in a 5 week teaching experience in Australia. Findings show that participation in cultural based events is part of a complex decision making process. The variety of cultures that now exist in schools requires new teachers to obtain and apply a skillset that promotes manoeuvrability through, and an understanding of the many definitions of culture. A better understanding of this process may strengthen curricula and improvements in teacher education program delivery and further enhance higher education study-abroad international partnerships.