The reputation of study abroad students has vastly changed over the last few years. Students look at study abroad as a method of traveling and partying in a new place. The experience has changed from an alternate way of learning to finding a place to take the best picture for Instagram.
I have seen multiple examples of this wasteful mentality while studying here in the Gold Coast. There are students here who just skip classes and party every night. While I understand that it is their right to do whatever they want with this opportunity, I cannot help but feel like it is a waste.
To me, this study abroad experience is all about experiencing things we may not find back home, and using those experiences to help facilitate a growth into adulthood. We are meant to explore the world around us, and meet new people that will inspire us to change the world around us. Slimbach explains that students should be exploring the world, rather than spending our time in a classroom or a bar. He writes, “More and more are venturing off the beaten path of study-abroad-as-usual with a passion to discover meaning in their life by helping to mend the brokenness of the world.” (Slimbach Loc 568).
I believe that this mentality has arisen among study abroad students because we have been blessed with an opportunity most people do not get. We share pictures on social media and tell our friends how great it is to be abroad, which is something that we should do. The problem is when that is the main focus of our semesters. Since arriving here, I have recognized how lucky am I for having parents that sacrificed a tremendous amount to send me to Australia. I know that my parents would love Australia, but they may not ever get a chance to see this country. I feel as though I owe it to them to explore this country and learn everything I can, so that when I return I can share a piece with them. Non-stop partying like some of my fellow students, to me, would just be so disrespectful to said sacrifices made on my behalf.
I think the best way to change that mentality of students is to just take a step back and realize we have once in a lifetime opportunities. I think we should go out and travel and work with the local people and give back to the people who sharing their culture and traditions with us. It is a shame that we come over and have a reputation as kids who come and trash the neighborhood only to leave in a few months. We need to recognize that not everyone gets the opportunity we have, so if someone is going to squander it, they might as well stay home.
Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC568