The view that American students traveling abroad have an entitled mindset while abroad is fairly accurate, in my opinion. Slimbach states that American students abroad acquire “little of the new cultural knowledge, language ability, and perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind.” I think that Slimbach is truthful in portraying the typical American student in this way. While there are definitely expectations on both ends of the spectrum to this generalization, I think that it is a fairly decent representation of most students who go abroad. While taking a class like this has certainly made a more mindful traveler, I still can’t say that I am immune from my consumerist American ways. Additionally, I think that students studying in countries with a different language only pick up the words necessary to communicate at a minimum while there, and then tend to lose the language that picked up shortly after returning back to the U.S. I also believe that many people’s intentions for studying abroad are selfish, as harsh as that may seem. Other than myself, I do not see who is really benefiting from my studies abroad. I know my parents aren’t, as they have to pay more money for me to be here. Further, in last week’s blog I talked about how I need to be mindful how my travels are impacting my host culture. I mentioned that while the Irish seem to love Americans, I don’t understand why. I hate that Ireland has seemed to be influenced by the U.S., and I hope that this lovely nation will not be any further influenced by our consumerism and greed. I don’t hate the U.S., I could never hate the country that I am from, but I don’t love it either. There are many aspects to American society that I would love to see changed, particularly our superiority complex towards the rest of the world. This arrogance is so deeply rooted in us from a young age, to believe that the U.S. is the best nation in the world, that I understand why some many people criticize American students studying abroad. I think Slimbach’s words at the end of this chapter are the brutal truth.
I think I have found myself guilty of these accusations at times, but hopefully not as frequently as the average abroad student because I am taking this class and reading Slimbach’s text. I do find myself like Slimbach mentions buying useless consumerism products in each place that I visit a keepsake, and 9/10 times that product probably came from China anyway so it definitely isn’t helping the local economy. One way to that hope to break this stereotype of being the typical study abroad student is by volunteering my time. I already have made plans with my classmates to volunteer at a soup kitchen, and Mary has also mentioned an opportunity for us to sing with her for a charity, so I will definitely be doing these things. Events like these are where I feel like I can really give something back to Ireland. Another thing that I can do is to buy local from the English Market in downtown Cork. Most of the products in this amazing marketplace are locally sourced. Slimbach states that some people come to just not care and adopt a “whatever attitude towards the world.” I will try each and every day here to not become that student; I want to be as mindful as possible while studying abroad.