Throughout history, it is known that American students lack the same experience when abroad that students from other cultures may experience. This is due to a lack of language ability, as well as the capacity to have a changed perspective on new cultures. Americans are born with the belief that their culture comes with a natural sense of entitlement or superiority, that I even feel myself battling as I study in Australia. By this, I mean that Americans naturally don’t feel the need to learn about other languages or see life from a different cultural perspective because of our upbringing. We are never pressured to master another language or learn about the problems of the world, simply because of the belief that what happens inside of the american borders holds more importance than the cultures of others.
Another major reason why Americans do not get a true abroad experience is because of technology (especially smartphones). Because of technology, students are not forced to interact with the foreign culture they are in. Instead, they can still communicate with friends and family at home without feeling the pressure to branch out and become involved. I have also fallen victim to the use of technology, especially when it comes to directions. When I am in the city of Brisbane, there are hundreds of bus stops located around the center of the shopping district, yet only one of those stops is the one that the 412 bus comes by (the bus that passes by my apartment). Instead of asking a local where the 412 bus stops, I used a GPS bus tracking app that instantly provides the information. Although this method is efficient, I feel that prohibits me from fully immersing myself in the Australian culture. I have noticed that I have been overusing technology specifically for directions, and have taken it upon myself to learn the lay of the city without the help of an app. This forces me to ask people for directions and possibly meet some amazing locals by doing so. Personally, I feel that I am doing everything in my ability to not fall into this stereotype of American student travelers. I think that my efforts have been quite successful, since I managed to get myself an excellent job with a call centre within the city. The people who I work with are amazing and have provided me with a true experience with the Australian work culture, and furthermore, have made my stay in Brisbane so much more authentic. Taking up this job opportunity has opened up so many doors for me professionally, as well as socially – making me as globally responsible as possible in this point in my journey.