The Amanda Knox trial drew worldwide attention when the American exchange student was tried as the prime suspect for the alleged assault and murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Despite the fact that Knox has been acquitted of the murder, she went through four years in an Italian prison being questioned and tried by their legal system. Even though this case received a lot of press, this worst case scenario hasn’t stopped students from pursuing an education across their own borders.
Although studying abroad used to be an upper-class right of passage that went with an Ivy League education, this opportunity is becoming more prevalent and affordable to the American middle-class society. But sometimes the reality of becoming a foreigner is a far cry from the naive imaginations of an inexperienced traveller. What most students don’t take into consideration are the misconceptions about where they are from in other countries and how knowing those perceptions can make your stay overseas worthwhile.
Dino Scott Holroyd, who recently moved to the United States from Vence, France, knows a lot about a foreigner’s perception of Americans. “The only thing we see [about Americans] is stuff on MTV, people acting [like] fools not caring about much apart from having a good time,” said Holroyd. Though he realizes this is not true to all Americans, the general consensus of Americans in his town, especially girls, is that they are easy and ignorant.
Finding out more about where you are going to study is always an advantage. “It’s important to know the people there, including the minority groups,” said Holroyd. “Find out about their customs and traditions and show them respect.”
If students plan to study abroad and prefer to be prepared in advance, a little research can make the experience socially rewarding. Students can:
- Become familiar with the language
- Learn the social and cultural norms
- Look at the preferred dress codes
- Find out how the legal system is different to their own
- Ask about the safer and more dangerous parts of the city