Being fortunate enough to study abroad is a huge privilege. According to Slimbach, Americans in particular who are able to experience this fall into a certain stereotype: “pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation…. And judge everything by the standards of home” (Slimbach). This assumption is frustrating. Slimbach is so quick to call us the “Ugly Americans” but why are we doing anything wrong? Not knowing everything about the country you’re visiting just means you’ll learn so much more when you get there. Learning first hand is so much better then researching it on the internet prior anyways. Yes, it’s ignorant to not know anything at all about the country you’re traveling to, but I have not met anyone who’s done that. Everyone chose to study abroad in a particular place for reasons that are specific to that country.
Slimbach patronizes study abroad students who “rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners” (Slimbach). Regretfully, I fall into this category more than I would like. Meeting people outside of my program is difficult because we’re so isolated from campus. No other students live in my building and I only have to go to campus twice a week. Not for lack of trying, all the close bonds I’ve made have been with other foreigners. I don’t think it’s the worst thing though. I’m getting to share my experience with other people going through the exact same thing. And they can become more lifelong friends: these are people that I can visit with back in the states as well.
I have met so many study abroad students who are guilty of using studying abroad as a 4-month party. They seem to care about nothing else but drinking. It’s unfortunate really. I have one friend who says he has no money to travel, then spends over $50 dollars at the bar. I think it’s a waste of time to go abroad and do nothing but drink. We’re getting an amazing opportunity and I personally believe it should be spent exploring, not blacked out in a bar.
I think for study abroad students to try to break the stereotype Slimbach talks about we need to accept more and complain less. Not everything is perfect and I feel like a lot of students believed that going abroad would be a picture perfect vacation. Going abroad is all about becoming cultured in a different place and getting an education.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.