Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

In chapter one of “Becoming World Wise,” Slimbach discusses how American students can act during their abroad experience if they are not aware. He talks about how they often neglect to break outside of their comfort zone and fail to gain a truly cultured experience. They continue to socialize with American students and stay in their own group. I definitely understand Slimbach’s perspective on this. After being abroad for two months, I have seen so many people waste their time away going out at night with other American students and not experiencing the true Spanish culture. It is difficult for them to adapt to new norms and easier to continue with the behavior as an American college student. In addition, on the metro, Americans talk and scream so loud while all of the locals are very quiet. It makes them stand out. While it is imperative to remember where you come from and your home nationality, it is important to make an effort to understand the new culture around you. By going out all night to touristy clubs and sleeping all day, many American students miss exploring the city around them and interacting with locals.

Americans can often get an obnoxious stereotype because we don’t always make as much of an effort to blend in. Slimbach describes Americans as people “who dress and act oblivious to the subtleties of local culture and judge everything by the standards of home, who hang out in Western-style eateries, [and] party in local clubs” (Slimbach 36). Slimbach isn’t saying to ditch our old culture, but he is saying that Americans don’t always do the best job of adapting and understanding. This QU 301 class, as well as keeping a personal journal, has allowed me to have time for meaningful reflection. Through reflecting on my thoughts, feelings, and actions, I have been able to see the impact the study abroad experience is having on me and the impact I am having on Barcelona as well. This has allowed me to stay away from fulfilling the typical American stereotypes and has helped me to better adapt to this new culture while still remembering my home country.

I think I can work even harder to discourage this stereotype by making a greater effort to speak in Spanish. As a society, America does not place as much as an emphasis on learning other languages as other countries to. In Spain and every country I have visited, people have spoken multiple languages. Most Americans expect everyone to speak English. I think making a greater effort to speak in Spanish can help us discourage the American “entitled” stereotype.

The picture I chose to post is of paella which is a traditional Spanish dish. Although I am a picky eater I have been trying to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. I absolutely love paella and I am so happy I tried it with Silvia, my language exchange partner.



2 thoughts on “Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

  1. Kristen,

    This QU301 class has also been a very good source of meaningful reflection for me. This course has allowed me to take a look at student abroad students from a different vantage point – Slimbach’s book, in particular emphasizes the importance to look at our experiences from a different lens, such as from the local’s point of view. Making a greater effort to speak in Spanish is an excellent goal in order to help play a better role in the global community!


  2. Kristen,
    I think you are right when you say that many students’ biggest failure is that they do not try to blend in. You have to put in effort in order to try to assimilate at least a little in a new place. Also, that’s awesome that you are trying new traditional foods. I did not even think of the fact that trying to eat what the locals eat is a way to try to fit in. Good job!


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