Travel Log 2: “Rites of Separation: Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Expecting and Accepting the Unexpected” Jill Berlant. Bridgewater, New Jersey

As you know from my last post I was in California all summer, this makes going abroad to Italy a little easier for me since I have had a taste of being away from home. Due to the time difference, I had to plan when I was going to call home so it was not going to be too late for my parents. I stayed in touch with my parents so they were still apart of my life even though we were miles apart. They knew about my internship and when I had crazy adventures like skydiving and surfing. I plan on keeping in touch by calling a couple times a week when I am abroad in Italy as well. I know I will call more than once a week but not everyday because I will need to be able to go out and experience my new surroundings, but I also do not want them feeling like they are worried because they haven’t heard from me. I like staying in contact because they like hearing about the exploration I plan and about my classes because my parents are very involved in my life.

Separating from my parents again will be tough because I barley was with them this summer. But they know I will be traveling and on an amazing journey and they want me to do that as well. The quote I used in my letter says, “To travel is to take a journey into yourself”, I picked this quote because I want them to know I am going to be growing as a person and traveling is a way to explore and try new things. I never thought I would have skydived in California but when I was there I took a chance and went for it. I discovered I loved it and would do it again. If I never went to California and met the people I did, I do not think I would have thought of jumping out of a plane for fun.

A successful study abroad experience would be me returning from my experienced enriched and educated as a result of this remarkable experience. I do not anticipate being fluent in Italian but if I come back knowing some basics of the language I will be happy. I want to be able to come back home and be able to share with others what it is like to live like as an Italian.

I am ready as much as I can be for the expected and unexpected, I do not know what to expect so I am ready for anything. I have an open mind and love meeting new people. I know my lifestyle will change, that happens whenever you move to a new place. As I am writing this I am reflecting back to my time in California I went there knowing one friend and leaving I made so many new friends and connections. Living a block from the beach was new for me and getting used to the crazy traffic in LA was different. But I adapted fine, I know Italy will be very different from California and New Jersey but no two places are the same. I am ready for the o
ld-world charm in Italy.

The picture I chose was taken this pasted suIMG_9850mmer in California. I hiked up the mountain, which led to the famous Hollywood sign where I was able to look out into the distance and see the city. This represents to me that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to. It was an extremely difficult hike; therefore it was a great accomplishment. It also gives me the wanderlust to discover the world around me, which I am looking forward to doing in Italy.



Travel Log 1: “Laying a Foundation” by Jill Berlant. Bridgewater, New Jersey

Time sure does fly by! I have been away all summer in Los Angeles interning. I was in California for ten weeks and I am finally back home in New Jersey. Now I only have two weeks to prepare for my new travels in Italy. I know what you must be thinking; a travel bug must have bitten me! I remember thinking about how much time I had to wait before traveling abroad, and now it is finally approaching. I cannot wait to walk the cobble stone streets and to meet the locals. I keep thinking about what my apartment will look like and who my Italian neighbors be. Most importantly I am stressing about only having one suitcase for four months.

This course is all about ones Rites of Passage, back in the spring when we had the two workshops we spent a great deal of time to go over what that exactly means. ROP focuses on preparing us for leaving our home community and adapting and evolving when in the host country. There are three stages Old Status, which is the way you are before you travel abroad. The second stage is the Liminal Status, which is a threshold through transforming. The last stage is the New Status, is when you come back cultured and worldly. Through these three stages a person evolves through the new experience they gain while studying abroad.

In reading the beginning of Slimbach’s book, Becoming World Wise, it got me thinking about how foreign places are going to be very different from home but then when looking closer has similarities as well. For example, when I was shopping in Paris on the famous street the Champs-Elysees all of the stores there where the same stores on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Because of a lot of companies being international it ties a similarity when traveling. A quote that really stood out to me says that, “In a world that is smaller yet more complex than ever before, our educational challenge is to understand and to value both our differences and our commonalities, our separateness and our togetherness”(Slimbach 6). What this means to me is not to compare and contrast what is better home in the Untied States or Italy, but it is to see the differences and value what each of them have to offer. I want to be able to recognize the things that remind me of home but then realize what makes Italy special as well. They both offer distinctive cultures and ways of living, and I feel fortunate that I have this wonderful opportunity where I can experience both.

Another quotes that I liked was, “What’s important is that we should discover things that are new to us and feel the same wonder and elation as if they were new to everyone else”(Slimbach 4). I feel that Slimbach is trying to say that when you see famous landmarks feel excited like you should for the first time, even though it may not be special to others around you, if you are bliss feel that way. This is all part of your discovery. I also feel that you should feel this way with any new experience it doesn’t have to just be something famous, it could be with anything.

The book I am going to read when on my journey is Under the Tuscan sun by Frances Mayes, it is about how Frances travels to Italy and buys an abandon villa in the country side she studies the people and the food. It takes place in Tuscany in the olive Groves, which is certainly a place I want to visit. I am looking forward to reading the novel, it came highly recommended.61ozdkfspcL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Ben Raymond. Brisbane, Australia

After reading the prompt for this week’s activity, I was a little nervous about finding a local Aussie to interview. There were plenty of friends that I could sit down with and have a conversation, but I wasn’t sure how they would respond if I asked to use them as a subject of an assignment. Rather than going through each bullet point on the cultural contrasts list, I decided to have a more authentic and natural conversation with them as I incorporated each point into normal conversation. After I got the answers I wanted from them, I then informed them that I was using this conversation to gain insight of how we are culturally different – and also asked permission to use their responses for this class. I think it is important for me to take the time to discuss viewpoints from someone of a different culture in order to gain a worldly perspective of my own culture. Moreover, it is also important to understand that just because a culture does something differently than my own, doesn’t make it wrong. It is important to approach this conversation with an open mind to new ideas and perspectives.

The person I chose to meet with was a 3rd year marketing student named Nick, who has lived in Brisbane his entire life. Nick is quite the outgoing type, and we have instantly clicked since the beginning of the semester. Surely if anyone was going to have a strong understanding of the Australian culture, specifically in Brisbane, it was going to be him. Nick and I found ourselves getting to know each other quite well very early in the school year because we took many of the same courses and have very similar personality types. He was also generous enough to refer me to a telemarketing company that he works at, and which I am now an employee of.

My discussion with Nick lasted much longer than expected, as of course, he insisted the chat was accompanied by a few beers (legal beers). One point that we focused a lot on in particular was the modesty versus boastfulness concept. I explained to him that in America, it is expected that if you have a lot of money, you flaunt it through purchasing a large house and nice cars – it’s fairly encouraged to show off your accomplishments. As I explained this concept to him, he began to laugh. He explained to me that in Australia, there is something called tall poppy syndrome. Tall poppy syndrome is when somebody acquires status or wealth and decides to show it off for all to see. Australians fear that when someone becomes a “tall poppy” they have an easier chance of being knocked down and attacked my society. This is why even the most successful and wealthy Australians live and act like everyone else. It is culturally rude not to be modest. He said that I could very well be sitting next to a millionaire at the public train station and never know it. He said, “Australians tend to work hard and keep their heads low.” The second you become a tall poppy, your head becomes visible, and much easier for someone to knock down. This also ties in with the informality versus formality debate. Nick explained to me that it is very common for people to wear causal clothes for any occasion. I noticed this when going into my job interview. At a successful marketing firm, many of the employees were wearing jeans and a golf shirt – something that wouldn’t be acceptable at a professional American firm. The last point of comparison Nick and touched on which we had in common was direct versus indirect questioning. We both agreed that our cultures are very in-your-face when it comes to getting the answer to a question. It is more than culturally acceptable to have this behavior.

Applying this to home, there are of plenty of groups within Quinnipiac that I tend not to associate with. Personally, I would like to talk to people within the QU radio station. I feel that by doing this, I may have my perspective changed about the communications community. They always seem to be involved with so many fun events on and off campus that I could see myself enjoying if I knew more about the community.



Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Separation” by Andrew Dunbar. Belle Harbor, New York

With one week until my departure, I feel the reality of my situation setting in. As I make my rounds to hangout with my friends one last time before I leave, I realize these are unlike any other goodbyes I’ve had. I have talked to enough people who have went abroad in the past to accept the fact that when I come back I will, without a doubt, see the world differently. This inevitable fact actually scares me a bit. Listening to someone who has come back from abroad talk about their experiences is like listening to someone explain an incredible dream that they had, and watching the sadness in their eyes set in as they realize its over. Yesterday I said goodbye to my friend who will be studying in Barcelona this semester. It was a strange goodbye because we both knew that so much would happen in our lives before we saw each other again. While I am excited for the journey that lies ahead, I can’t help but be disturbed by the fact that I might no longer be satisfied with my ordinary life when I return from such an incredible experience.

Reading my separation letter to my family went pretty much as I expected, ending with my brother and father being understanding and my mother getting all emotional. I told her I wanted to set a time to FaceTime once a week and her response was “only once a week?!”. I usually talk to my family at least a few times a week while I’m at school, but I know realistically with the 12 hour time difference it will be difficult to do so while abroad. My dad, much like myself, is not all that emotional. But now he is realizing just how far away I actually will be. Instead of me being the usual two-hour car drive away, I will now be a 22-hour plane ride away. Its good that this realization is setting in now so that we can really try to make the most out of our last week together.

Finishing my internship today was a strange feeling. For most of the past 3 months especially, I have been in the high paced New York state of mind. This mindset has mostly followed me over to Quinnipiac in the past, so I have pretty much had it my whole life. People here walk faster, talk faster and get things done faster. While this is an incredibly efficient way to live, it is also a very stressful way to live. Sometimes I feel as if I am missing out on certain things because of this time demanding efficiency. One of the reasons I chose Australia is because Australians are known for having a laid back lifestyle. I am excited to take in their way of life and to enjoy the little things. When I return I will try to compare the Australian lifestyle with my usual New York lifestyle and see which one I like better. I think one of the great benefits of traveling is that it opens your mind to so many different possibilities, so many different ways of living. With some obvious exceptions, I don’t think there is really a “right” way to live; you just have to find what works for you. Traveling allows you to take in each different way of living, and to find your favorite. Different lifestyles are not something that can be read about in a textbook, they need to be experienced.


My picture this week is from my recent trip to Italy, it is the dome ceiling of the Roman Pantheon. While the view from looking up at the dome is very beautiful, you can only see a fraction of the sky. This can represent our pre-abroad selves, only viewing a fraction of the world from where we have lived most of our lives. But once we step outside and look up, we will realize that there is so much more. I think a somewhat over-used, but still impactful quote that relates to this comes from St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I hope that when each of us returns we have a couple of chapters down.

Travel Log 3: ” Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” Madeline Eldredge, Cork Ireland

My initial response to my new surroundings was pure and utter disbelief. Other than being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, it was hard to believe that I was walking on the soil of another country and starting my four-month journey. Driving to Cork from Shannon International Airport was filled with breathtaking landscapes and driving on the “wrong” side of the road through blurry, tired eyes. As much as I tried to stay awake to take it all in, unfortunately my exhaustion and jetlag took over.

Had it not been for Diane and Mary, I think the transition over the first few days would have been a lot more difficult for me. Their willingness to go above and beyond for each one of us throughout the entire international travel process is and was very much appreciated.

However, the “culture shock” that Slimbach explains on page 153 did not affect me until we entered a small café across the street from the University College Cork main gate. Our lack of sleep mixed with the confusion in our eyes as we were trying to order Café Mochas and Cappuccinos was probably a sight to see and the locals in the coffee shop were more than likely judging us for taking a while to order.

The real “culture shock” hit me when Mary told us to not bring our dishes up to the counter but to leave them on the tables for the servers to clean up. In America, this would be seen as completely rude but in Ireland, it’s a normal, everyday occurrence. A quote that corresponds with this shock is: “Back ‘home’ the answers to these and a thousand other cultural questions were second nature to us, part of our internalized cultural code. Then we enter a strange culture, and most of the familiar signs and symbols simply don’t work. We’re like a fish out of water” (Slimbach 153). This quote holds so much truth in every aspect of experiencing a new culture: driving on the opposite side of the road, greetings and everyday lingo, and the culture in general.

Sign in Restaurant Fall 2015

A sign in a restaurant that we ate at. This shows how friendly and welcoming everyone is.

The locals are extremely kind, though, and nothing like what I had expected which also made the transition easier. For example, without any hesitation, a few locals came up to me and gave me directions while another gave me vital advice about the bus transportation around Cork City. The absence of negativity and selfishness is something I have definitely gotten used to!

The first night in Victoria Lodge was probably the hardest and most emotional. This was mainly due to the fact that I was overtired and I was not used to the time difference (and am still not). What is considered a “normal” time to go to sleep is when my parents and friends are just getting out of work back home. Whenever it is convenient for my friends and family to talk to me, it is extremely inconvenient for me but this is something that I will have to figure out and work on! So, mentally, I am doing loads better than I had anticipated and keeping busy everyday is essential. Thankfully, I have already become extremely close with a few people from Quinnipiac as well as others from UMASS Amherst, SUNY Cortland, and so many other schools in America (as the Irish students have not entirely arrived yet). Having these new friends who are also transitioning is a curse and a blessing because now I feel that some will cling to them for support and a familiar means of comfort throughout the entire four months.

Hostel in Slane, Ireland Fall 2015

The main part of the hostel in Slane, Ireland.

Hostel in Slane, Ireland Fall 2015

The cottage Maria, Ashley and I were assigned to.

Jumping right into the Early Action courses has also made the transition easy. These classes force us to leave our comfort zone and interact with other students all while learning about the host country’s culture. I chose to take the Archaeology of Historic Ireland course and could not be more pleased with what we have done so far. Our first trip was an overnight trip traveling to Dublin, Newgrange, Slane and Trim to view Neolithic and Mesolithic burial sights along with examining archaeological evidence of different tools that were used along with their cultural beliefs. The biggest challenge was knowing that we were staying in a hostel and not knowing what to expect. I have heard horror stories about the quality of some hostels in Europe and the United Kingdom but we were pleasantly surprised with a quaint farmhouse hostel owned by the nicest family! Ashley, Maria and I were able to stay in a cottage on site because they ran out of bunk beds in the main part of the hostel.

Overall, I think that I have adjusted well but I need to work on calling my family and friends less and experiencing my new host country for everything that it has to offer. My open mind and outgoing personality have helped me a lot when it comes to asking for help since I have been here. I am always friendly to strangers and the locals and try to make an impact on everyone that I come into contact with. I have learned that I am more capable of overcoming obstacles than I think and that I should never be afraid to ask for help from a local!

Travel Log 3 “Betwixst and between…so this is liminality” by: Bryan Riemer, Cork, Ireland

When I first said goodbye to my parents and walked by myself through the airport doors I felt an immediate rush of joy and excitement. When I was preparing to leave I was nervous that I would get home sick right away, but instead I embraced everything that has been thrown my way and it has helped me adjust to Ireland so much easier. Unlike my previous trip to Europe without my parents, this one was a lot more relaxing and enjoyable mainly because everyone speaks English and are really friendly. This also helps me feel comfortable speaking with the locals and asking them for directions or what I should order at the pubs. Slimbach described communitas perfectly on page 160 in the fact that it is double-edged and, quoting Craig Storti who said, “the more we retreat from the culture and the people, the less we learn about them; the less we learn about them, the more uncomfortable we feel among them, the more inclined we are to withdraw.” The number one reason why I was able to adjust so well to my new surroundings is all thanks to Mary Steele.

Mary has been with us since we arrived in Cork and has shown us around the school, city center, shopping plazas, and blarney. Without Mary I do not think I would have been able to find my way to immigration in the city center so I could get my visa to stay in Ireland. For a few days I associated mainly with my fellow Quinnipiac students but after meeting some of the other students during orientation, it was a quick turn around and we all started to get to know one another. Up until a couple of days ago I was a little nervous about asking the locals where things were, but after Mary sent us out to the city center to find buildings and answer questions I felt inclined to ask the locals, who happen to be the nicest people in the world.

Good thing I overcame my fear of asking strangers for directions because my biggest challenge thus far is definitely finding my way around Cork. I have never been good with directions, but I normally have google maps to help me. Now that I don’t have access to the internet where ever I go I must rely on the locals to help me get to where I need to be, which takes a while because everyone walks everywhere. I feel as if not knowing where I am going allows me to become more culturally connected with Ireland because I am always talking to the locals and learning so much about cork that I would have never known if I only used google maps.

Since I am a part of the early start program I have yet to meet any full time students at UCC so I have been unable to get acquainted with them and figure out where the best places to go are. Once the actually school year starts I will be joining multiple clubs and organizations to meet the ‘international’ students and learn more about their customs and maybe share some knowledge about my culture with them.

Even though I feel that I am adjusting well to the Irish culture I am not fully aware of my surroundings yet. Slimbach stated that, “The “belly” of the local culture will remain strange to us—and us to it—until we acquire a culturally appropriate frame of reference and repertoire of behaviors that enable us, ddespite our circumstance, to be an accepted and respected outsider” (p. 154). This quote along with the picture I chose of a gourmet American cuisine restaurant in the middle of Cork city. This picture represents that although I am comfortable being in Ireland, I still stand out as an American and am looked at as a guest in the country instead of a citizen.

Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality.” by Jenna Paul. Cork, Ireland

It has only been one week abroad and I am starting to really understand this new city I am in. Cork, Ireland is such a great place to be in and learn about the Irish culture. Mentally I do feel that I have separated from my native culture. Although, at first there were some things that caught me off guard, I am starting to really understand it all. One of the hardest things is that the cars here drive on the opposite side of the road and it can be very confusing when trying to cross the street. I think this is something that will just take time to get used to though. The separation process did go as I expected as I have been through it before and know the feelings of leaving everything behind.

Luckily for me, I travelled to Ireland with six other students from Quinnipiac. This has been really great for me because we have all been able to go through this experience together. We are communitas in every sense of the word. We are learning the city together and experiencing everything abroad for the first time together. It is great to have people to go through this process with and has definitely made us closer as well. There are other people as well that I would consider communitas as well. In our early start classes, we have all Americans that are in the same situations as us. I have made some great friends who are also American and going through all of the same challenges as me. Some who even live in the same area and can really relate to what I am going through. It has made the transition a lot easier.

When leaving the country and place you call home, there will always be some type of challenges. Luckily for me so far I have not had any major challenges that have set me back. I would call them things I just need to get used to. I had to learn their money system, tipping rules and other things like that. Although, in Ireland they speak English, there are many words that I have never heard before that are used frequently. One word that I didn’t know was “queue”. At home we would just say, “Are you waiting in line?”, but here they say use the word “queue”. It is just little things like this that I need to get used to. I like a quote from chapter six in Becoming World Wise that says, “The journey toward a more global sensibility proceeds along a fairly predictable road—one marked by singular joys and open-eyed wonder, but also by cultural incompatibilities and struggles (175)”. I think that this quote shows how a great journey isn’t great without the struggles and hard times.

I think that I have done a great job so far of trying to learn the new culture as best as I can for the short time I have been here. For the most part, learning to call this unknown place “home” will just take time and in the mean time I am just trying to enjoy the unknown land. Exploring and wandering has been one of the greatest times here where we have no end destination, but to just see this new land. It has truly been an amazing week.


I chose this picture because although this city is all new to me, I can still find beauty in it and be open to the new experiences. Even when everything seems different, it is hard to not like a place like this. The beginning of my journey has been great and I can’t wait for even more amazing adventures to come. My actions I am taking are to explore this new unknown land as much as possible with the hopes of learning amazing things about myself and this beautiful world. There is so much to learn and being in this new city is already teaching me so much.

Travel Log 1: “Laying a Foundation” by Kristen Sullivan. Flemington, New Jersey

Two years ago, on this exact date, I started my journey to Quinnipiac University as a college freshman. The past two years have taught me more about myself than the previous 18 years of my life combined. I have gained intangible things such as independence, responsibility, and maturity. I never thought that friends at school would become family, inspiring professors would become mentors, and I would transform into a young adult. As I sit here writing this post, I am about to begin a new adventure as I  step outside of my comfort zone again and head off to Barcelona, Spain. While I am anxious to leave behind the friends, memories, and comfort Quinnipiac has provided to me, I am ecstatic and blessed to have the opportunity to travel and study abroad.

Not only am I blessed to have this opportunity, but I am thankful to be a part of such an interactive and reflective experience. The QU 30 workshop not only got me excited for the semester abroad, but it also made me feel like I would be getting the most out of my experience. Through the two-day seminar, I gained insight into what my study abroad experience was going to mean in a deeper sense. One thing that stuck out to me, that I keep reflecting on as I am preparing to depart, is the process that I’m about to go through. As discussed in the workshop, I am about to change as I leave the safety and security of my current status and dive into a completely new culture. At this point in the process of studying abroad, I am transitioning into a new phase of my life where I may not be as comfortable at first. Because of this course, I am aware of this transition and can be more intentional with my actions and try to “let go of old things to make room for new things to emerge” (Workshop 1). Because of this awareness, I believe I will be able to make a better separation from my old status as a United States citizen and Quinnipiac University college student and jump right into everything studying abroad has to offer.

In the workshops the Traditional Rite of Passage formula was discussed, and I learned that moving from an “old status” is so much more than simply getting on a plane and landing in Barcelona. Although it is exciting and opens up a world of opportunity, it can also be extremely challenging. In Becoming World Wise, Slimbach addresses this point saying, “Although potential  for acquiring a truly global education has never been greater, actually achieving it requires simply more than being there” (Slimbach 7). Fully embracing this experience requires a complete commitment to separating from the comfort, standards, and expectations of studying abroad and actual living them. He sums up this idea saying that the experience is a combination of “body, mind, and heart” (Slimbach 6). As discussed in the workshop, being immersed in this new experience requires a transition from the old status to a new, liminal status. Without being aware and committing to this transition it will be impossible to get the most out of the experience. This makes me realize that I have to put away social media away, not get caught up in just a group of American students, and accept the change.

In addition, Slimbach spends a good portion of his introduction focusing on the idea of common good and its role in the study abroad experience. He poses the question, “Having generated all this energy to understand and potentially mend the world, how can we actually harness it to protect and positive impact the cultures and environments we visit?” (Slimbach 9). This is a concept I never considered as part of studying abroad. I was selfish in thinking “what is this experience going to do for me” rather than “what can I do for the world given this experience.” The end of the introduction really stuck with me and gave me a whole new perspective. This idea of “common good” relates to the workshop when we discussed the ABC model of Culture Contact. This model is imperative for understanding and reflecting on how your emotions, actions, and thoughts can affect not only yourself, but the community around you. Through these ideas, I realize reflection is the key to understanding myself and how I can positively impact the Barcelona community.

The travelogue that I have chosen is Steps Out of Time: One Woman’s Journey on the Camino. I chose this travelogue because it is about a woman who takes a break from her everyday life to travel Spain to learn about its history and traditions. I feel like this will be a great book to read as I travel Spain. I am excited to learn more about the Spanish culture through the eyes of someone going through a similar experience.


Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…So this is Liminality” by Ashley Moreau. Cork, Ireland.

I don’t know if this feels real yet. The first few days in Ireland have been incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. The separation from home was harder than I initially thought it would be. From getting settled in our apartment, to learning the ropes of the city, to beginning to set up our classes for the fall, all I want to do is nap! Instead, I have plans to go to Cobh tomorrow, a nearby port city in Cork County, and on Thursday morning our early start class is going on an overnight trip to Dublin. I am very excited about these two trips, as they will be the first time I get to explore Ireland outside of Cork City. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m going to be here for an entire semester. I think when it does hit me the true feelings of homesickness may set in. For now, I feel like I’m on a vacation—most call this the “honeymoon” phase, and I have been warned that this can come and go quite abruptly.

In reading Chapter 6 this week, Slimbach talks a lot about the process of acclimating to a new culture. He writes how some people become so overwhelmed with this change that they shut themselves off from their new country, blaming everything on the new culture and constantly comparing it to their home society’s practices. However, he writes that a knowledgeable traveler will recognize the differences between the two places and agree to compromise. I have seen this happen with myself. There have been many variances between Ireland and the U.S. so far. Some of them I dislike, while others I have warmed up to quickly. To note a few: most stores don’t give out plastic bags here, or they charge you to do so, they drive on the other side (everyone knows that), and they only tip 10% at restaurants (how cheap)! I also haven’t mentioned how much walking we have been doing. It is about a 25 minute walk into the city center and about a 15 minute walk to campus—that is very different than my 5 minute walk to class at QU.

My “communitas”, or new friends, have been the other students from Quinnipiac, as well as our mentor Mary. Mary works for UCC and has helped all the QU students get acclimated to Cork this past weekend. I have bonded with all of them and it has helped us all get through this transitional period easier. We have also met other American students who will be studying at UCC this fall and that has been really comforting and fun to learn about their college experiences. Slimbach warns that if I become too dependent on my “communitas” then I may not immerse myself enough with the locals. I hope that this won’t happen with me. Already I have realized how incredibly nice the Irish are and how much they are willing to help us! Personally, I think that my ability to not be embarrassed to admit I am new to all of this, and to know when to ask for help, will make the transition smoother. I am not afraid to ask people in the market where things are or what is customary to do with my plates when I am out eating. We have all had our “American” moments such as when I counted my Euros incorrectly, or said aloud “this shirt is only 5 dollars”. However, I think my keenness for learning about the Irish way of life will keep me from becoming too dependent on other American students in an unhealthy way. It is impossible not to connect with these students, as it is easy to bond with them about certain things we all miss about life back in America. I think my one weakness throughout this experience will be my general love for the grandiose way of America living. Until you come to Europe, you don’t realize just how large we truly live in America.

As I continue through this liminal phase, I plan to use some of Slimbach’s advice to help me to become better adapted to the challenges of studying abroad. I think my biggest challenge right now is that mentally I am torn. As I see friends post online about going back to QU, I really want to join them. Any time I am away from friends and home, I always become worried that I am missing out and it is hard to not want to be there too. I think as I travel more places and get more settled in, I will learn to enjoy my time here but also appreciate life at QU more when I get back. Slimbach quotes Intercultural expert Janet Bennett: “At one and the same time, we value our old belief system as well as adaptation to the new; we seek a way to survive within our former worldview, and yet recognize the necessity for a new perspective” (Slimbach153). This quote really sums up how I need to think in order to successfully make both of my worlds collide and help me grow new perspectives on the world.
I am excited to continue to meet new people and to visit more local places, especially in downtown Cork—there are so many cute pubs and coffee shops! I am thrilled that my parents and some friends, who are also going to be abroad as well, have planIMG_7880s to visit me; this gives me something to look forward to. For now, I’m taking every day by stride and trying to learn as much as possible about Cork. This picture was taken last weekend when we visited Blarney Castle. This is a picture of not the castle, but the private residence behind the castle. It’s magnificent features and beautiful gardens symbolize my feelings on Ireland so far; it is absolutely stunning here!

Rites of Separation: Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

What a whirlwind of a week it has been for me, one that may have or may have not helped my rite of separation, depending on how I handle it. I have been spending the last five days in Hamden and Quinnipiac welcoming the new freshmen class, navigating them through the nerve-racking process of changing your life style and experiencing something new. From my perspective, they have nothing to fear, knowing that this will some of the best four years of their life. But as my flight grows closer, I realize that I should be taking that same advice. I am growing anxious as the days go on, but I know that separating properly will ease my mind and help me grow into my new self.

Over the past week, I have begun to separate from the people that are the closest to me. I have shared my separation letter with my girlfriend and friends from home last weekend at my house, and plan to share it with my parents tomorrow. My girlfriend and I had a difficult, but an extremely helpful, conversation on the importance of healthy separation. We both came to the understanding that in order for me to truly benefit from my study abroad experience, we must give each other significant space and patience. By explaining things through the lens of a rite of passage, we knew that it would be next tom impossible to immerse myself in a new culture and not be homesick if we were constantly fighting on the phone or just talking as much as possible. We set the expectation that we would take a break from our relationship, but that we would try and talk once a week.

The quote I chose to share in my letter comes from Mark Twain, stating, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Hamden definitely represents a safe harbor, complete with everything that has made me successful and comfortable over the past two years. However, I constantly remind myself that when I look back on my life, I do not want to be complacent. I want to venture off into something new, discover new harbors, and feel confident about it. Barcelona definitely represents a new adventure for me. I have never been anywhere where the first language is not English, and my only experiences in Europe have been with my Scottish family who provided everything I needed. Now, I will have to explore my new city and country as an adult that must provide themselves with new experiences. I know that my curiosity will drive my adventures, and that using all of the resources available to me will help me along the way. With this mindset, I believe that I can separate cleanly and move on to my next phase in the rites of passage.

10262079_10207197011107041_6053007159894240302_nIn this picture are some of my best friends from both home and from school. I chose this picture because my friends are extremely important to me, and I am constantly fighting the fear of missing out on what they are doing back in America. Even though it might be hard, it will make my transformation into this new culture that much easier.