Traveling abroad to Florence, Italy is something I have wanted to do since I was in high school. I am happy to say that in about two weeks my dream will become a reality! Although I am someone who is always up for travel and adventure leaving home to live in a foreign country is something that scares even me. However, after attending to the two 301 workshops and meeting my mentors, Mark and Laura, my nerves have been calmed. We learned about being apart of the “global community” and also Arnold van Gennep’s ‘rites of passage’ theory. After gaining knowledge on his theory I could not be happier that I was exposed to a formula that will give me a safe and meaningful transition from the ‘old status’ to a ‘new status’. I am currently in the old status of the rites of passage theory. I am weak because I have to leave behind my family and friends with the certain fear of missing out, but I am also strong because I know that by letting go of the old I will be able to experience the journey of a lifetime. A topic that really resonated with me from the workshop was “communitas”. Communitas is defined as a state in which ‘all members of a specific community are sharing a common experience usually through a transition or a rite of passage’. It is often true that those you become friends with in this passage you would not have been friends with otherwise. Although I am not yet in Italy I feel this connection with the other students in our 301 class. I have not know many of the other students long but I have already developed a connection with them, hearing their hopes and fears for their study abroad experience is something that has bonded us already. I am excited to read the travel-logs weekly to see what my new friends are experiencing. I am also excited to meet many other friends in Florence this upcoming semester to share my journey with.
After reading the introduction to Richard Slimbach’s Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning one line that really stood out to me was, “ Having generated all this energy to understand and potentially mend the world, how can we actually harness it to protect and positively impact the cultures and environments we visit?” (Slimbach 9). When traveling abroad I will try and keep this quote in the back of my mind throughout my journey. This statement means that although we have put so much into getting to our place or travel this is only part of the experience. It is when we become fully immersed in our travels that we need to find ways to actually influence the global community in a positive way for the greater good of all. Slimbach also states that, “ Although the potential for acquiring a truly global education has never been greater, actually achieving it requires more then simply “ being there” (page 7). This statement reminds me of what we discussed about the liminal phase. The liminal phase is more then just “being there” it is about learning, preparing, and experimenting so you can grow as a person with the help of your mentors.
One goal I also have for myself is to try not to be too much of a tourist. I hope to connect with an Italian family or organization when I am abroad. Volunteering with local children or meeting an Italian family would be something that could change my whole study abroad experience for the better. Although I want to see all of the major cities and sights, I also hope to see the villages that are less commercial are more traditional. My family is from Salerno and Bari so I hope to travel to at least one of these areas to explore my heritage and maybe even meet some relatives along the way.
The travelogue I have selected is called, Not in a Tuscan Villa by John and Nancy Petralia. I choose this travelogue because it is about a couple from New Jersey who decided to embark on the “ perfect vacation”. It was with that line that I knew I immediately wanted to select this book. Not only am I from New York (which is very close to New Jersey) but I also know that no trip can ever be so “perfect” which is what John and Nancy found out very quickly. The book describes them as learning more then they anticipate about Italy, themselves, what it means to be American, and what’s important in life. These are four things in which I also hope to learn on my journey abroad.