I believe that this attitude of entitlement and consumerist in study abroad is partly due to what is required to be able to study abroad in the first place. Studying abroad tends to be fairly expensive to actually be able to fly to the nation and live in another country, this means that for the most part the people going abroad tend to be a bit better off and thus have more money to spend in another nation. This paired with the fact that, especially at first, often times it can feel more like a vacation than school. Slimbach states “A postconsumerist, community-based model of global learning will go far towards dismantling the ‘Ugly American’ or other national caricature that routinely describes foreigners abroad.” (2010, p. 35) and I completely agree that this mindset would help in removing these stereotypes and help remove the sense of entitlement that some people have when they go abroad.
I have seen some amount of this mentality while here and I am not free from being guilty of it. I personally try to not seem like a tourist even in the US but sometimes it is hard not to be consumerist. I have gone and done very touristy things in shanghai such as going to the fake market, which is just as it sounds, however, I have friends here who act a lot more like tourists while they are here. Some will go partying every night and explore the tourist spots when not in class. I personally believe that while you do need to stop and try and adapt to and learn from the culture it is perfectly fine to go be a tourist every once in a while. As a matter of fact tomorrow my program has set up a trip to an organic farm outside of shanghai and then to a nearby water town which will be me taking a break from being a student and actually indulging in being a tourist. But the other part that Slimbach talks about is entitlement which I have noticed a bit less often. For the most part, my foreign student friends understand that this is not going to be like the United States, or Europe, or Australia and that we can’t expect to have everything like home. I will say that one of the biggest issues a lot of people have had first coming here is the fact that we are basically stuck using cash. Unlike the US most restaurants and stores do not accept cards, they either take cash or Alipay (a payment method that uses a smartphone but requires a Chinese bank account), it is ultimately a small inconvenience but it is something that a lot of people expect to be able to use in 2016 anywhere in the world. It is tough to say how exactly we are supposed to prevent this mentality and really the only way I can think to prevent this is to really educate people on what it is exactly to be mindful and how to avoid these negative ways to act while abroad.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing, 2010. Print.