When the words study abroad are brought up in a conversation the first thoughts that pops into a college students’ mind are “a four month vacation, the time of our lives, partying until 4AM, not ‘doing’ school” and more. Many study abroad students enter their host country with a feeling of entitlement, a demand for a lavish four month European adventure. The biggest factor in making students feel this way is SOCIAL MEDIA. Social media has not only consumed the typical American student by updating them on what’s happening in the U.S. on a day to day basis, but it has completely altered the way students view life and travel country to country. I have seen this and personally experienced students around me only going on certain trips, doing certain activities and even ordering certain meals to get the ‘perfect Instagram’ or to make their friends back home jealous. Slimbach represents this mindset perfectly by saying “It’s my time and my money. If I want to just enjoy myself, that’s my prerogative” (Slimbach, 36). When traveling in a group it is very easy to spot the people who travel to learn and the other students who travel to indulge themselves and to be able to say “I’ve been there”. When I am in a foreign country my first mission is to wake up early and explore the city, to eat food native to the country that I am staying in and to talk with the people around me. I always take public transportation, not only to easy the costs of the trips, but to also get a true feel of how people live on a day to day basis and to talk with the people who have lived in the country for many years now. I find that many of my trips are picked based on recommendations from other Europeans that I talk to on the weekends. I don’t enjoy going to touristy places, being pushed in crowds and staring at the same sculptures that every other tourist in Europe has. Instead of going to one of the most popular places to visit in Portugal, I was told to check out Cascais (a smaller city in Portugal) which I am now going to visit over fall break. I think the only way to break the shell of entitlement and consumeristic habits of other students is to open their eyes to the world around them. To show them how great it is to meet new people, to branch out from the Bus2Apls preplanned trips, to explore areas that aren’t on the ‘top 10 destinations to visit in Europe’ list and to make them feel comfortable being themselves. If all students were happy in their current stage in life, maybe they wouldn’t have the need to try and show off for everyone back in the states and they would be more inclined to become a ‘well-traveled mind’ person.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.