Travel log 8: “Global Responsibility” Part 2 by Kirsten Fraser. Broadbeach, Australia

Slimbach has developed an attitude toward study abroad students that they do not truly immerse themselves into their host culture and therefore, do not gain the cultural insight that is the purpose of the study abroad experience. He outlines the reasoning for his judgment when he writes, “You know the stereotype: pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners; who dress and act oblivious to the subtleties of local culture, and judge everything by the standards of home, who hand out in Western-style eateries, party in the international dorms or local clubs, all the while demeaning local ways, which they understand poorly; use Internet cafes to send dispatches from a “field” they are largely detached from to a “home” that they never really left; who then carry back to campus assorted symbolic reminders of having “been there” –online photo albums, local handicrafts, maybe a Eurail pass- but little of the new cultural knowledge, language ability, and perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind”. (2010, pg. 35-36) However, this view angers me. Why is it his place to judge someone else’s study abroad experience? That experience is solely that of the one on the journey. So if this person is satisfied with their involvement with their host culture, who is Slimbach to tear them down just because they do not meet his standards? There are many ways to experience the anomaly known as “study abroad” and I do not feel I should be judged by the way I choose to experience mine.

This being said I feel it is important to immerse myself into my host culture. Not because Slimbach deems this as a necessity but because this is important for me to feel fulfilled in my study abroad experience. It is easy to fall into the routine of only hanging out with study abroad students, as this is whom I live with and became close friends with. However, I find other ways to explore my host culture. I enjoy talking to Australian students in my classes and on campus. I also enjoy the random people I meet when walking around town or when experiencing the nightlife. Therefore, I feel I still exude global responsibility as I have embraced my local culture and am open to meeting new people outside my fellow study abroad community.

 

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

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