I have found that while studying abroad there have been a lot of students that I have come across who no longer see studying abroad as a privilege, but as a “right”. It sounds like an odd thing to say, but let me explain. Along with this mentality I have witnessed students not care to learn or even appreciate the language and culture they’ve chosen to immerse themselves into. Being abroad every day is a reminder that not everyone can study abroad and not every experience is the same, it is a privilege for me to be here in Europe. Not everyone’s parents, programs, or wallets will allow them to have this experience. However, the number of students studying abroad today only continues to increase. Today it has become a matter of “when will I study abroad in these 4 years?”, compared to “will I study abroad” or even “can I?”. Students have begun to feel it is there right to have this experience because everyone does it, or as Slimbach put it, they have the “consumerist/entitlement” mentality. These students simply travel abroad in order to party, take photos for their social media to show they’ve been there, and to “sight-see” the most-known monuments. I have to admit, I completely agree. Adam Weinberg put it best, “these students (at best) simply get the American college experience in a different time zone” (Slimbach 36). I am not sure how other study abroad destinations are, but I find a large majority of the students in Barcelona are ‘guilty’ of these accusations. Students travel in groups to these study abroad destinations, among them are UMass Amherst, Bentley, and even Quinnipiac. Whether it is planned or not to go together, they still find themselves sticking together. It is being “largely detached from to a ‘home’ that they never really left” (Slimbach 36). Us Quinnpiac students in Barcelona are guilty as well. Yes, we have expanded beyond ourselves but we still remain within the same group and even travel to other countries together. They are a sense of security and familiarity; a piece home I didn’t give up over here. Us and fellow students can travel to discourage this stereotype of study abroad students by thinking about how our travels will encourage a “perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind” (Slimbach 36). This perspective change has occurred in all of us, we discuss it frequently, however, could it go further? Of course it can. By being consciously aware in our decisions that they should be “perspective change” provoking. Before we didn’t plan it, but with a plan we could bring our minds further than ever expected. My favorite quote, that I now have written as a reminder in my planner is as follows:
“The answer lies within each of us who venture abroad to make a break with the familiar and discover a that distinctively, finally, for the world.” Slimbach 37
This quote will be my constant reminder to think about why I am here in Spain and why I took this opportunity in the first place. This will discourage the stereotype of study abroad students and encourage the idea that I can exude global responsibility. The photo I attached is the group I travel with, missing two people, and a good majority is Quinnipiac students. It is a representation of how even in another country we have found each other and stick to each other like all other groups of schools in Barcelona, completely unplanned.