This attitude towards study abroad students, that they have this constant mentality of the “consumerist/entitlement” is created by stereotypic behavior such as hanging out with other international students, not really taking in the local culture and more of exploiting it, basically living in their host country as if it were home. Basically, this behavior that screams indifference towards the host country and its people. Of course not all study abroad students are like this, but it those few that follow this stereotype have left a bad impact during their visits that the entire study abroad image of students is colored in a dark light. As said by Adam Weinberg, “‘far from experiencing another culture deeply and on its own terms, these students (at best) simply get the American college experience in a different time zone.'”(Slimbach, p.36). Unfortunately it’s truth, but I feel that there are ways that a study abroad student can avoid falling into these stereotype clutches.
I mean I won’t lie I have met and seen other international students that seem to just have no care in the world other than going out every night and busying themselves with all the things they must see and do. I don’t think I’ve fallen victim to this. I really enjoy the atmosphere of Wales and I’m really beginning to love Welsh, I can even understand it now, though it still takes me a while to reply in like. Its coming along though, which is really exciting. The locals are really welcoming too and if you take sometime to talk to them they are such lovely people. The other day, I had 2 hour-long conversation with one of my classmates who is a mature student (people who return to school later in their lives). It’s great to shared my time as well and gain more insight on life in Wales. Kayleigh’s lived in Wales all her life so, the vast knowledge she shares with me means so much to the both of us. As I learn more about Wales from her she learns more about America through me.
I think that if students traveling abroad used their privilege to travel to share their experiences with the people of their host country and established some type of relationship with the locals, we could rid this stereotype. It would benefit the study abroad students in that they would be embracing the culture of the host country and those they interact with to rid the falsities of international students traveling. In this way information and knowledge can be shared in a positive way and thus students become an integral part of the global community. The experience becomes a two-way street and both countries of which are represented by the locals of the host country and by the international study abroad students, spreads unity and fulfills the continuity of the global community that traveling peoples have been building ever since. In this way study abroad students can share in the responsibility of the global community. I think of it in the terms of being passed the torch and being able to add to the vast knowledge of what we call the world.