The ongoing stereotype that most study abroad students from the United States are put into often reflect the concept that we are only here to have a vacation, travel across Europe, or wherever we are studying, and be a constant tourist instead of doing what study abroad is supposed to offer, learn a culture by spending majority of your time there and immersing yourself in that culture. With the increasing necessity for social media and connectivity to technology in my generation the whole concept of getting to know a culture has slowly begun to go out the window.
Slimbach states in the small passages entitled “Choosing the High Road” that “American students abroad don’t have stars-and-stripes patches sewn onto their backpacks, or see themselves as having much in common with their “tourist counterparts … but neither are eager to relinquish many of their comfortable amenities and social networks of home.” This statement immediately sparked me to think about how with our generation of students we are constantly attached to our mobile phones while walking anywhere to avoid awkward conversation or interaction with people and how it is essentially a necessity to keep up with all of our various social media platforms and news feeds. This type of attitude often carries over to studying abroad, using your phone as a means of shielding yourself from the world around you because it will most likely be something you are completely unfamiliar with. I have noticed that many of my friends who have service while they are over here are often on their phones while we are walking somewhere or going through a museum, constantly keeping updated with their lives back home. One thing that I think had helped me to not have this working against me is that I don’t have service or wifi once I leave my flat. Once I leave my flat London is at my disposal and has my full and undivided attention. When I walk around I see everything because I have nothing else to look at.
Something that I feel all of us students who study abroad can do to break this stereotype is to give our host countries our full and undivided attention. By doing this we can become more immersed in our host cultures and become more globally responsible people.