Reading this week’s passage was honestly no surprise to me, even though it kind of hit a soft spot for me. It’s one thing to notice that me and my group of friends are American, but it’s a whole other story when you are group of african-americans trying to blend in with a group of white americans. For a lack of a better phrase, we stick out like a sore thumb.I don’t know if it’s because we’re always dressed to the nine, or we’re much more quiet compared to our white counterparts, or whatever odd reason. The stares and fetishization don’t end. There are many times when people have touched my friend’s and I hair. There have been moments when we kind of been discriminated. However, one thing that really makes us stand out along with the other americans is that fact that we’re always on our phones. The first thing that we do whenever we walk into a restaurant, club, or any place of venue; the first thing we look for is the wifi and if it’s free. If it’s not, we’re looking for the wifi password. We have conversations, but they consists of when we’re gonna post on instagram or should we put it on snapchat. It’s like we’re only abroad to just take photos of ourselves and show off. This doesn’t add to our experience, it actually hinders it. It kind of reminds me of the tourists I hate in NYC and how they never pay attention to real beauty of the city. It’s harsh, but sadly true. It sucks that we aim to travel to all of these places, but just for mini photo- ops. Everything has to look good for the ‘gram’. It is a never ending cycle. My friends do it all the time, there has been moments when they’ve stayed up late to post photos because they wanted to appease their followers back at home. I kind of realized this and started forcing us to take moments just to appreciate where we were. Instead of taking physical photos, I needed to take mental notes of where we were, because it immediately becomes a blur. I don’t want to remember something only when I look at a photo.
When studying abroad, the only way american students that are abroad can feel somewhat connected is through the power of social media and technology. We run to technology to avoid conversations. I do it all the time, I rather use an app on my phone than ask for directions because I don’t want to look like I’m not from here.As much as I love technology, it serves as major distraction and gets in the way of the whole study abroad experience. I think the best way to overcome this stereotype of study abroad students is to get out of your comfort zone and stop using technology as a crutch. I’m beginning to think that I should plan a no-phone day & take a break from social media, just so I can bask in the beauty of London. I have so much to see of London, but I’m busying traveling to other places for my mini photo- ops. As stated by Slimbach “The answer lies within each of us who venture abroad to make a break with the familiar and discover a wisdom that is distinctively, finally, for the world” (Slimbach, 49). Students need to kind of use their student skills outside of the of the classroom to get more out of study abroad experience.
The picture that I chose is of the view of Barcelona from Parc Guell. I think so far,Barcelona has been one of my most favorite places to visits across Europe. It literally made me appreciate my experience here and how I’m truly blessed to be abroad. I don’t regret a moment anymore since I’ve been here and I’ve been learning so much about myself.