The Baggage They Carry: Study Abroad and the Construction of “Europe” in the American Mind
The object of this discussion is to explore some of the ways in which Europe has been created and recreated in the American mind and to relate those constructs to the limitations, opportunities and dynamics that may be explored in education abroad. Those constructs represent in part the baggage that students bring with them. In what follows, the structure will recreate the experience of students coming to Europe. The essay explores the baggage they carry; engagement with the European environment and, finally, the process of return. In that structure, which mirrors the experience of the study abroad student, a partial but suggestive set of perspectives emerge that go further than defending the traditional and, instead, present a cogent set of rich realities that collectively create the case for Europe.