Travel Log 8 “Global Responsibilities Part 2” by Kait Shortell. Paris, France

There are many different reasons why study abroad students are considered to have come home from their abroad experience lacking a ‘well-traveled mind’. I think the most obvious reason why this attitude has developed, as Slimbach mentioned, is because they are not willing or strong enough to let go of the lifestyle that they live at home. For example, a lot of my peers in class talk about the international club in Paris that they go to every weekend. They meet kids from all around the world. I think that is awesome to an extent, but I also think that encountering these other international students would be more fulfilling in an environment where everyone was not in an altered state of mind, and there wasn’t club music blasting while they try to have a conversation. I always ask if they met any people our age that live in Paris at this club that they go to so often. None of them ever have. The ‘club’ scene that we so often take part in back at home, is not at all something the Parisians take part in here. They spend their nights sitting at a café or bar with a close friend over a glass of wine or two. Another reason that I think this mentality has gone hand in hand with abroad students is also because of the lack of effort by study abroad students to use the language of their host-country. I recently was at a café where I listened to the response and tone of the waitress to Americans who ordered in French vs. Americans who didn’t make the effort and ordered in English. As I watched this over and over again, the Americans who ordered in French were brought their check with their food. Those who ordered in French had to ask for it. The waitress wasn’t rushing them out of the café, like she was to those speaking in English. Some of these Americans were students, while others were tourists. Either way, it is the lack of effort to take part in the culture they are submersed in at the time. I think if the study abroad students made conscious efforts to break away from these American “habits” and really put themselves out there to meet locals, their experience would be wildly different. In the beginning of my time in Paris I was talking with a peer in my program who said to me about five minutes into our conversation, “Honestly, the only reason I am studying abroad is to post good pics on Instagram.” I wish I could say I thought she was kidding, but I think she was half kidding, half serious. I just thought that was so sad. Here is another massive fault of abroad students, who come to their host-countries and one of the things constantly looming in their thought process is social media, which is constantly leaving them in search for cafés with wifi, and being sucked into phones rather then absorbing their surroundings. Things we could do in our situation to discourage this stereotype, is speak the language first and foremost, and play the part. Make an effort to pick up on the tendencies of our host-culture, how do they act in cafés, on the metro or in stores, how do they dress etc. I also think disconnecting from our phones during the day would allow us to be much more aware of our surrounding, even I am guilty of that.

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One thought on “Travel Log 8 “Global Responsibilities Part 2” by Kait Shortell. Paris, France

  1. Kait,

    You make a very good point about study abroad students in regards to the fact that they are constantly on social media and connected with back home. I see this extremely often here too, where as soon as people sit down to eat food or grab a drink they pull out their phones and ask for the wifi password (in English nonetheless). It makes it so easy to pick out other study abroad students in a restaurant because everyone at the table will be on their phone as opposed to the locals interacting with one another. I agree with you that one of the best ways is to try to blend in and speak the language.

    Like

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