Richard Slimbach states that, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” (p. 54). Throughout my experience, I have found a lot of truth in this statement. Not only did I learn about other people and cultures, I also learned about myself. I have always considered myself to have an introverted, shy personality. My time here has allowed me to experience the extroverted side of myself that I didn’t know I had. I’ve made friends with groups of people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet at home.
During my time here, I have also rediscovered my appreciation for what I have at home. My entire life, all I could ever think about was getting out of my country and experiencing the world. After 4 months of traveling, all I can think about are the comforts of home that I normally take for granted. I miss the little things, like being able to communicate without constantly being self conscious about my accent, grammar, pronunciation, or if Google translate was correct. Having the opportunity to explore the wonders of another world made me realize that I haven’t even began to explore the wonders in my own back yard. When I go home in 7 days now, the first thing I am going to do is plan my next trip. Except on this trip, I want to travel the U.S and see more than just what the east coast has to offer.
The global connections I have made, through the forming of new friendships and expansion of knowledge, have groomed my understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. The journey to becoming a global citizen starts at the point of building awareness. However, true global citizenship involves taking this a step further; by taking that knowledge and turning it into action. I began my journey at a young age, when my parents forced me to start watching the 5:00 news. I was learning about what was going on around the world but only at arms length. Seeing it on a television from thousands of miles away is only a 2-dimensional view. While studying at the American Business School, I took an International Finance class. This class shaped my understanding of how the world works by showing me how my actions are capable of affecting the global community. On a smaller scale, every time I buy something that’s imported or invest in the stock market or even drive my car, I am making an impact on the global economy. I want to carry these connections forward by pursuing a career that allows me to study global trends.
My emotions as my time to departure draws near have honestly come as a shock to me. I expected to want to stay or to be sad, like what all of my friends are currently going through. However, I’m actually overjoyed to go back home! This terrifies me. I am in fact so overjoyed, that I can’t even enjoy my last week. I started packing so early that I actually had to unpack so I had clothes for the rest of the week. What does this say about my time abroad if I’m this happy to go home? Does it say that I didn’t have a good time, or that I’m not cut out to travel? Maybe I just didn’t do it right. I feel guilty when I talk to my friends who are so sad about leaving because I’m just thinking to myself, “why are they so sad? The U.S. isn’t THAT bad, it does happen contain all of my friends, family and everything I hold dear.” Everyone who I’ve ever talked to about study abroad has told me that I wont want to leave and that everything is better in Europe and I might even want to move here after.
I plan on spending my last day having a picnic under the Eiffel tower with the friends I have made during this journey. It truly seems like the perfect way to end my Persian adventure. I suppose I should be relieved I’m not heart broken over leaving. This should make the reincorporation process easier… right? Or will it be worse because I’m filling my head with all of this nostalgia of what home is like and am setting myself up for disappointment?
In my very first blog post, I used a quote from Clifton Fadiman that said, “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you feel comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” I used this quote to keep an open mind during my time here. Now that I look back at it, the words don’t make me think about the French culture, but the American culture and how everything about it is in place to make me feel comfortable.
This expression gives me clarity as to why I’m so excited to go home, and how I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Studying abroad was not supposed to make me forget about my own culture and encourage me to take on another, it was meant to help me appreciate other cultures. For some lucky people, studying abroad has opened their eyes to a new culture that makes them feel comfortable. But I was already lucky because I always had a culture that made me feel at home. So yes, I am leaving France without any desire to assume a new European lifestyle. It doesn’t mean that I enjoyed my experience any less than the people who aren’t as excited to go back.