The view that the rest of the world has on American study abroad students is a perspective that we never take into consideration until we get to the location that we picked for our journey. We are seen as kids who came to whatever country we chose in order to put something on our resume and set us apart from the other students that we are going to be competing against. Some left home because they wanted to be able to drink and party legally. Guys may have wanted to meet international girls, and girls may have wanted to find an international guy. We are pampered or spoiled because we can afford to do something like this without any recourse and somewhat resemble the luxurious travelers that come to countries with their families and the only impact that they have on the culture is that of a negative one that spends money, lives as if they are the most important person in the room and then leaves when the fun is over.
Some students go abroad so that they could travel throughout Europe and not worry about their studies because that is not what they came here to focus on. They spend time with the other students from the United States because those are the people that they understand and have the most things in common with, or so they think. People that I have met in my journey so far have shown me signs of this. I came to England knowing only one other person going to the same university that I was and we were only acquaintances meeting for the first time at the pre-departure meeting. We talked on the bus ride to the university and I haven’t seen her since. The people that I have spent all of my time with are people that are either from England or are actual students of Queen Mary University instead of the associate students.
I think the people who have not found friends that are from their host country are missing an important aspect of the journey they chose to undertake because those are the people that you are going to learn the most from. They are going to show you the best places to go while abroad. They will tell you about the culture that you are living in and lead you through your new life as you teach them about your old life. As much as you are learning from your new friends, your new friends are learning from you and that is real friendship.
In order to discourage the assumptions that people have about study abroad students is to show them that they are wrong. “The contribution that international study and service can make to bettering the world largely depends on us as individuals, along with the programs that sponsor us.” I only slightly agree with this statement because as much as the programs that sponsor us try to get us to understand the host country that we are living in they do it by only including the other study abroad students in our program and that only provides a certain perspective about the learning experience and a bias is created by the coordinators that show us what they want us to see and nothing more. We are the only ones who can really decide what we want to give back to the community that we are becoming a part of and in order to encourage the idea that study abroad students can exude global responsibility is by becoming a part of that community and wanting to give back to it because we feel as if we have become a part of it and once that feeling has been created we really have become a part of the community.