Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

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.

Works Cited:

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

 

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility Part 2” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

  1. Hi Nicole,

    I have also found many students who are guilty of using the study abroad experience as a 4-month party. I agree this is not the point of study abroad. One can drink in a bar anywhere; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the country you are studying in. I rather spend my money and days exploring Australia. I often use the nighttime to do homework or simply hang out with friends. I think exploring the nightlife is important but it should not be someone’s main concern.

    I also found Slimach’s interpretation of study abroad students frustrating. I think the experience is different for everyone and everyone has different things they want to get out of it. I enjoy meeting Australians whenever I can. I am a guilty shopaholic so I often find myself talking to sales consultants as many people will ask me where I am from due to my “accent”. However, I also enjoy the bonds I have formed with my fellow international students. I am comforted that this is not just a friend for 4 months but for a lifetime as I can visit them at home. As much as I would love to visit Australia again I don’t think I will have that opportunity for a while. Slimbach may have certain expectations for his own abroad experiences; however, I am happy to make my own.

    Cheers,
    Kirsten

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  2. I love what you wrote, I have also been finding Slimbach’s description frustrating about students take their time abroad and waste it. Honestly it seems like to me that this entire book is just attempting to guilt trip your decisions abroad. He cannot paint one image of studying abroad and say this is the right way to do things; everyone is going to discover more about the world and themselves in different ways, it should be up to each person what that is.

    Believe me, I have no idea how some of the people I met go out every night of the week to some new club or bar and spend god knows how much on the food they put on snapchat, but if that is experiencing the culture for them then they are entitled to do that. Hey, maybe they are meeting new local people through it. I have been spending my time traveling and yes, a lot of the time it is almost exclusively with other Americans, but that is because those are the tour groups that are out there. I’ve been finding that the experiences that count are in the little details that you take away from each country. In the pubs of Ireland it’s the songs that they are playing that the entire place sings along to. In the cafe in Iceland it’s the way the people behind the counter talk to you which is more than a quick “What will you be having?”. Here in London, it was the people that I met still awake when a friend and I went on a 1am walk around the city. Sure not every moment is going to be a guilt-trip awakening about how I should feel being an American in a foreign country, but it is the slow learning process of comparing new cultures to one you have known your whole life.

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