In Becoming World Wise, author Slimbach discusses how American students abroad fail to gain, “cultural knowledge, language ability, and perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind” (Slimbach, p.35). I think that this attitude has developed toward study abroad students because of a few bad apples that have created a sour taste in people’s mouthes regarding these students. I think that other people tend to see American study abroad students as underage kids who want to travel outside of the United States so that they can party and drink a lot of alcohol. In my own opinion, however, this is a very small percentage of study abroad students but these are the ones that do get remembered the most. I would say that every student that I have met at my university while I am studying abroad has a true case of the travel bug. These students are so eager to see the world, to explore, and to learn so much about new cultures and settings. I do agree with Slimbach though when he writes, “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, pg. 35). I do think that many American students studying abroad are hesitant to fully adapt to their host culture. They miss things from America that are so common, like a dryer, and are constantly checking their American social media. In general though, I think that while many students who goes abroad do party, that is not their soul focus, they also share a curiosity for the world, which is what truly drives someone to study abroad. Someone wanting to party is not enough of a motivator to take all the steps necessary to spend a semester or more abroad.
I have found myself guilty of some of the accusations that Slimbach is making. I do miss some American amenities, like a dryer and a dishwasher, and I do check my social networks at home. However, I am definitely also adapting to my host culture, I hand my clothes on a clothing line that stretches between two windows in our apartment and my roommates and I take turns doing the dishes by hand. I am learning to adapt to the Spanish way of life and even though it may not always be my favorite way of doing things, I am choosing to take it in and cherish all of these moments because I came abroad so that I could live like a Spanish person. Also, I am learning so much abroad the Spanish culture and language by being here. I have a language exchange partner here who has showed me many local things, and is even helping me improve my Spanish speaking and writing skills. I am such a fun of the Spanish culture, for example taking a siesta in the middle of the day!
My fellow students and I are definitely discouraging the common stereotypes of study abroad students. Every Tuesday and Thursday, my friend Kristen and I choose a new area
of Barcelona to explore because we end classes early these days. We try to try new, local restaurants, talk to new people, and explore new areas of the city. We are showing that our lives do not revolve around partying, as many people may think, but rather we wish to learn about other parts of the world so that we can be sensitive to new cultures and really be global citizens who understand more about the world than just our small bubble at Quinnipiac, or even in the United States as a whole. I chose the picture I attached because it is from a day when Kristen and I went to a local street that one of our professors told us had the best churros and chocolate in all of Barcelona, it definitely did not disappoint!