Medium Response #5: Study Abroad & Traveling
COMS490 Sp16

Staying connected while abroad generally does not curtail the study abroad experience. It seems like this question is embedded with the assumption that other cultures do not exist or operate on the internet and social media platforms as well. As if people in Spain or Japan also do not use Facebook.

The only things that can really limit a person when studying abroad are fear, close-mindedness, lack of enthusiasm and prior research as well as other factors like lack of expendable income while traveling, and maybe physical appearance/background. White people tend to enjoy travel because they are not profiled the same way that non-White travelers might be (I know because a group of friends and I traveled around parts of Europe and were met with savage accounts of racism and xenophobia). There are definitely more serious factors that would hinder one’s experience of a foreign country and honestly staying connected seems like a very petty, non-issue.

Moreover, it can be argued that technology and staying connected enhances traveling and immersing oneself in a new culture and the experiences that come with spending time abroad. Staying connected provides us with media to archive our experiences and keep in touch with friends and loved ones while we are away. Staying connected and getting the most out of an experience like this are not mutually exclusive.

As someone who was out of the country for eight months last year, I was able to thoroughly immerse myself and enjoy my time while studying abroad, make fruitful connections and absorb as much as possible while keeping my social media accounts active. I also feel the need to stay connected to friends and up to date on current events and I feel that my timeline is a curated feed of news stories so it is also very functional to have. As a woman, I think that it was crucial to me being able to keep my family updated about my safety. When I first arrived to my apartment in Spain, the wireless router did not work and I had to wait until the next day. I could not update my family about my whereabouts or condition and my parents were seriously concerned. When I was finally able to connect, my mother answered my video call sobbing because she was worried sick about me. Staying connected is not just helpful but necessary.

It is important to share these experiences with other people because not everyone has the ability to travel and see different parts of the world. Some people don’t have passports or even countries to come from.With that in mind, I think we should be very mindful and considerate that other people we are connected to possibly do not have the privilege or means to travel by being careful not to brag and making our posts and content both enriching and informative rather than boastful.

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