Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Seperation” by Sam McGrath. Norwood, MA

My flight has come upon me very suddenly. I still feel like I have a month until I leave, but in reality I leave in than a week. I have been preparing for my trip for a long time now and still feel underprepared. Although I have been researching Ireland and talking to people who have been there, I still think that I won’t be ready for the culture shock. Although I have been getting my things in order, I still have many things to pack, I still have to prepare more, and I still have to thoroughly separate from all that I know.

Thankfully I have already discussed this separation with those that I am close to. I decided to discuss it at a dinner with my family and close family friend two weeks prior to departure. I knew that my study abroad usually came up when talking with family friends, so I thought this dinner was as good of a venue as any when the conversation came up. I felt ready to tell them all about how I thought would be best to deal with my parting, considering it was coming a lot sooner than my mother would have liked to admit. Although it was very eye opening for my parents considering how close it really was, my family and friend were very open and happy to discuss my separation.

At first I discussed with them how much this trip meant to me and how much I was planning on learning in Ireland, not only in the classroom but in the society as well. I expressed how excited I am to get another countries perspective on things and step outside of the American view that sometimes encompasses my mindset. I then explained to them how a good separation from America would enable a better learning experience abroad and therefore a better abroad experience. In my mind a lot of communication back home would hinder my growth abroad and muddle my submersion into the culture. Obviously some communication was necessary for my parents sake, so they were not to warm to the subject at first. The family friend suggested having a week and a half non communication period after I land, just to get my lay of the land and warm up to the culture before thoughts of back home was brought back into my life. My family eventually warmed up to this idea as long as I let them know that I was safe and gave some notice of how I was doing, before a formal call following the week and a half of short communication

After the discussion I felt relieved that I had put the separation out on the table and that my parents now knew how much the experience meant to me. I left them with the quote, “It’s not good bye, it’s see you later”, which my brother and family friend immediately made fun. I know how corny the quote must sound but to me it actually has some meaning in regards to separation. The quote to me shows how although I am separating from them and all that I have known for my entire life, it’s not a definite separation. Good-bye always sounds so definite and final, but that’s not what this separation is. This separation is a small gap in time where I am able to change and grow in a new environment; it is not a conclusive farewell, which is how it is usually perceived.

This path that I am taking to study abroad is not that common a path for most people. No one in my family has every gone to Europe, although most of our heritage is from there. That is why this picture of a road dividing and then merging back together resonates with me when discussing going abroad. I shall take the path less traveled as Robert Frost once said, but unlike Frost my road will eventually come back and meet the others. My separation will become a short lived divide between myself and other people back home, but I will eventually be reincorporated back on the common path after a lot of change on the path less traveled.

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