The stigma associated with American students studying abroad is one which doesn’t accurately describe study abroad students as a whole. Many people may believe that students abroad chose to leave solely to party in another country, because that’s supposedly all that college students do. These same students don’t partake in local atmosphere, interact with natives, or are ignorant of the host country’s culture. Although there are these type of students out there, I believe that a large majority attempt to fully immerse themselves into the host culture.
For example, one of my friends from my program is the quintessential example of the ignorant American study abroad student. However, he also came from a very rural area in Washington and has not been exposed to many other cultures or different viewpoints. As a matter of fact he was shocked at the amount of vegetarians in our program, because he has never met prior to experience abroad. Slimbach would have claimed that he would remain ignorant and not fully immerse into the host culture.
However, my friend has fully immersed himself into the Kiwi culture. He has traveled with local Kiwi students, joined a variety of clubs and activities, and has learned more about other cultures during his time abroad than he has in his entire life. My friend Seth directly opposes Adam Weinberg’s quote, “these students (at best) simply get the American college experience in a different time zone,” (Slimbach, Kindle location 757-758). Seth is currently having experiences vastly different from his American college experience at home.
Moreover, I feel that the majority of the students in my program are experiencing new things every day. Rather than receiving the same American college experience in a different time zone, I think that the majority of students are simply receiving both a different college experience and a different cultural experience. I think that it is easily forgotten that study abroad students hold their same responsibilities for school and also hold new responsibilities in regards to their host culture and community. I feel that students can discourage these stereotypes by performing the actions of a mindful traveler such as interacting with the local culture and discussing what they’ve been learning. Moreover, I think it is more important to publicly demonstrate their new knowledges and experiences. I feel that if more students published writings and memoirs on their cultural experiences, then the stereotypes of America study abroad students could change.
Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 757-758). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.