Travel Log 8 “Global Responsibility-Part 2” By Jim Webb: Perugia, Italy

Studying abroad has almost become a staple for American college students.  It provides students with the opportunity to live abroad for a few months at least.  It allows them to experience a new culture and throw themselves into an unfamiliar environment that they might otherwise never experience.  In Richard Slimbach’s book Becoming World Wise he describes American students studying abroad as long term tourists.  Slimbach writes, “American students abroad may not have stars-and-stripes patches sewn onto their backpack, or see themselves as having much in common with their ‘tourist’ counterparts on luxury cruises and package tours.  But neither are they eager to relinquish many of the comfortable amenities and social networks of home.” (Slimbach 35).  I don’t fully disagree with him either, I’ve seen it first hand.  I think a lot of people study abroad for the experience of studying abroad.  They do all the tourist things and travel every weekend to try and get as much as they can out of the experience but they seem to just scratch the surface of many different cultures.  Students like this are forever tourists because they don’t want to adapt to fit into the culture.  They still hold onto their American ideologies and strictly compare differences to the way things are “back home”.  These students surround themselves with other study abroad English speaking students who are going through the same experience.  I think in every study abroad group the majority of the students behave like this, and I hate to admit it but I am one of them.

Study abroad students are thrown into a far away country, with a new culture, and a different language.  Our friends and family are left behind so we gravitate towards the people most similar to us, the other study abroad students.  We hang out with them on small islands that isolate us from the new culture.  All the while we are taking pictures and writing blog posts about how much more culturally attuned we have become.  Slimbach sums up my opinion the best when he says, “… [Abroad Students] who use internet cafes to send dispatches from a ‘field’ they are largely detached from to a ‘home’ that they never really left” (Slimbach 36).  I think its very difficult to fully immerse yourself in a culture especially today when we are so easily connected with the people back home.

There aren’t too many ways to escape from the hold technology has had on our generation but I think there are good ways to exude global responsibility when abroad.  Volunteering and community work are great ways to become more culturally aware and even leave a positive impact on the people abroad.  I like to think about the ripple effects these small deeds might have after I leave.  Maybe by volunteering at a local farm and just helping out I can make the food produced more affordable and indirectly help someone in need.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log 8 “Global Responsibility-Part 2” By Jim Webb: Perugia, Italy

  1. I think it’s very surprising that you agree with Slimbach on this issue. Although I have seen similar attitudes with study abroad students, I don’t think it’s entirely their fault. Personally I don’t contact home that frequently, however its my parents who want to consistently keep in touch. It’s the responsibility of both the family and the student to separate in order for a full cultural immersion. Moreover, I agree that technology can get in the way of some study abroad experiences, but I also think there’s plenty of benefits. Being connected with home is an easy way to explain cultural differences and share your journey as you’re experiencing it.

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  2. I completely agree with you that it is so easy to point out the typical study abroad students who stick with other students and they travel every weekend in order to see all of Europe… and I also agree that I cannot lie I am one of them too. I love traveling and I love going places on the weekends in order to visit friends and family I have in Europe and to visit other friends studying in other cities. As “typical” as it may be, I do not regret it because of the amazing experiences I got out of it. However, I do see how it is incredibly important to also have your weekends in your host country in order to relax and explore the city you call home. It is nice, and I believe it is important too, to have such a balanced experience doing them both.

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