Studying abroad is an American college tradition. It is the chance for students to go outside of their comfort zone and explore a foreign land. But is technology ruining the experience? Duquesne Law Professor Jacob Rooksby thinks so, as outlined in his essay, Digital Cocoons and the Raw Abroad. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with Rooksby about this development.
With the advent of the iPhone and Facebook, it is much easier for a student abroad to stay connected with their home. They can post pictures of everywhere they visited, while also staying abreast of activities back home.
“With digital technologies, it’s so easy to immediately tap back into the old habits and friends and families and networks, and never really leave them,” Rooksby says.
Students barely have to interact with any of the people in the culture they visit, Rooksby further says. In the past, students abroad would need to ask directions when lost, ask others to take their photos, or get recommendations from natives over which restaurants to eat at.
Now, map apps, selfie sticks, and online review sites like Yelp have done away with all that, adds Rooksby.
While it may be easy to blame the millennial generation’s increasing love of technology for these issues, Rooksby says parents are often enablers. Parents demand an almost constant contact with their children, fearful of not knowing how their kid is doing at every second of everyday.
“Let the students experience it themselves, on their own,” Rooksby says. “They will have the memories, they will tell you about them later.”
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