TL8: Rites of Passage: Exploring Stereotypes, Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” Madeline Eldredge, Cork Ireland

Global responsibilities

I chose this picture because I think it accurately depicts how we are all from different parts of the world with various backgrounds but we are all in the same boat of liminality when we choose to study abroad in the same country. We all have a sense of instability along with the same goals of becoming more cultured.

I believe that some, but not all, American students fail to recognize that they are becoming residents of another country when they study abroad and hold a high superiority because they are from America. The large gap of misunderstanding from both the host country locals and the students studying abroad causes huge misconceptions and, therefore, vast miscommunication. According to Slimbach, students are failing at letting go of their home culture to experience their host culture. “American students abroad may not have stars-and-stripes patches sewn onto their backpack, or see themselves as having much in common with their ‘tourist’ counterparts on luxury cruises and package tours. But neither are they eager to relinquish many of the comfortable amenities and social networks of home” (Slimbach 35). Every student who studies abroad should shed their comfort zones to face the uncomfortable truth and reality that they need to re-learn the social norms and customs of their host country. Personally, I think that I am innocent of the accusations that Slimbach explains on pages 35-36, “…pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners…” I think that some students never leave the liminal phase and are always caught in between being homesick and not knowing where to go next. However, when I first arrived in Ireland, that statement described many of us but only because we were unfamiliar with our surroundings and it did not take long until we grew more accustomed to the Irish life. Specific ways that students studying abroad can reverse their negative reputation are by interacting more with the locals of their host country, learn the customs and ways of everyday life, and ask questions. Any question that I have asked, a local has been more than thrilled to answer and help in any way that they could. Sometimes, even just wandering around a host city or town center and observing how the locals interact with each other is helpful. Honestly, even just smiling and saying “hi” to people as they pass you on the street is helpful, too. The locals know that students study abroad in their area and can tell that we are American just by looking at us so the second that we break that uncomfortable “wall” just be engaging in simple conversation can really make all the difference in the world. It is unfortunate that host countries have such a negative stigma towards Americans but all it takes is a little effort on our part to reverse the reputations they hold against us.

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4 thoughts on “TL8: Rites of Passage: Exploring Stereotypes, Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” Madeline Eldredge, Cork Ireland

  1. I agree with you that it is hard to get away from being negatively labeled as just another privileged study abroad student from the U.S., especially in some other European countries. Luckily the Irish people are so kind and welcoming to American students studying abroad that I have found it easy to blend in and not stand out too much as American. Further, I agree with you that it is important to talk to locals and be friendly on the streets.

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  2. I find that even if the people native to Cork don’t hear me speak they can still point me out as an American, so it’s very hard to get out of being labeled as a stereotypical American, eve though you might just be trying to blend in.

    Your point about comfort zones while abroad is great. While abroad one really should create new cultural norms that may be a bit different from their host country. After all the new country is home for them so they should get used to the different norms in the particular culture.

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  3. I am glad to hear that you acclimated well to Irish life and do not find yourself to be guilty of Slimbach’s accusations. I think it is easy to be a mindless traveler but I feel that many study abroad students have such a craving for learning and travel and excitement that we really do not tend to be these students. I think we usually want to learn about the local culture and truly become one with the environment around us.

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