A Travellerspoint blog

How I Feel About the Concept of ~Study Abroad~

Sometimes people who have studied abroad aren't as "worldly" as they seem

sunny 26 °C

I don’t think most United State-ian people who study abroad do it to broaden their perspective on the world. I think it’s a bullshit answer everyone gives because it always works. Nobody is going to respond with something negative if you say you want to get to know the world, or “find yourself,” so we keep using it even if it’s not true. So what is the real reason and why don’t I think that it’s really the generic answers? From what I’ve observed, I think it’s to travel cheaply, have fun, or to get away from your problems back home. Sometimes all three.

Depending on where you go to study abroad, pricing for traveling will vary; however, as United State-ians we have an advantage in most places we go because our currency is valued very well in most places, so if we’re just living in a different country, paying the same amount of money for university, or sometimes less, we are usually able to take trips to locations around us that turn out to be cheap for us.

Having fun is a given. Going to a new place where you can start from zero and be able to experience new things that you wouldn’t be able to (or wouldn’t have the guts to do) back home is very enticing. Especially when you know that you don't have to work around your school schedule because more likely than not, your professors are going to be pretty lenient on you because most of them assume you’re there for the experience and not to married to schoolwork. Most people know this and it’s always something that attracts people to study abroad. This is also tied to my last assumption about why people study abroad.

Being in a constant state of happiness is always a good thought, and I have met people who have decided they wanted a break from their lives and study abroad can provide that for you while you’re still technically a part of the society back home. It’s great!

These are the reasons why I think people really study abroad, but despite me feeling like people don’t study abroad for the reasons they tend to express, I do believe those bullshit motives happen as a side effect of studying abroad. However, not as dramatically as people always make it seem.

I have observed all of my fellow study abroad mates become more knowledgeable. Like, learn about the Pinochet dictatorship for the first time because the U.S. school system failed to teach it to us along the way, or develop their Spanish and understanding of how Spanish-speakers use certain phrases or words that wouldn’t sound right in English or vice versa. I can see that they’re growing--we're all developing, and this is great. I am not trying to downplay the importance of these small developments, but every time someone talks about them, they stretch the truth, but the truth is people don't develop in super dramatic ways that we couldn’t do in the United States. This is because most study abroad programs make it so students are comfortable.

Most study abroad students tend to mingle only with the people from their program. I know this because I see it happening now, and every person who I talked to before coming here said the same thing, so we don’t experience what the people are really like. Also, as much as we would like to think that living with host families gives us the “cultural experience,” we have to acknowledge that these families are on the wealthier side of the spectrum and we’re not really experiencing what common people experience unless we form friendships with regular people and are able to experience that with their help, which is rarely the case for reasons I have stated before.

Overall, I have learned that studying abroad is something people do for fun, and for some reason end up feeling like they’ve learned a lot when in reality all of us have only scratched the surface of the culture we've attempted to submerge ourselves into, yet we still carry ourselves like we’re *woke. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing; however, I do think it’s a false reality that people who study abroad have created to seem more special than just being people who were genuinely just looking for a good time.

  • according to Urban Dictionary, a dictionary for slang terms, woke means “The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.

Posted by Jessicaramos 19:19 Archived in Chile Tagged abroad study

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