It’s extremely hard to believe that I am already two weeks from departure! I can honestly say that with working everyday this summer, I haven’t had much time to reflect and prepare myself for the life changing experience that is just upon me. But as I have begun recently to round up my personal belongings and square away some of tasks required to begin this semester, I have really started to think about it! Even though I’ve had a countdown on my phone for a while, it wasn’t until I started to gather clothes in a spare bedroom that this all started feeling real. I’m certainly anxious about all that has to be done and saying all my goodbyes, but I’m more excited at the landscape, experiences, and memories that lie ahead nearly 3,000 miles away.
As I sit down tonight and review my materials from the workshop, I think back to that weekend in April and all that our class discussed. From our understanding of the traditional rite of passage, to successful separation, to the idea of communitas, we certainly learned a lot that weekend. The two things that have really stuck with me are the concepts of communitas and the idea of reincorporation. Communitas is a new term for me, and it is described as “unlikely friends facing challenges together.” This idea really captivated me. As I head to Cork with other Quinnipiac students, most of whom I barely know, I like the idea that we all may become close friends and bond over our shared challenge of becoming accustomed to UCC, where we will be studying. Further, reincorporation was never really an issue that I had thought about when considering this journey of going abroad. After having our seminar and hearing of Mark’s experiences with reincorporation, I realized how troublesome this stage in my rite of passage can be if I am not aware of it. Knowing that in January I will be returning back to QU to take all sciences courses and get back to the ‘grind’ of being a health science major certainly doesn’t excite me; but, knowing this reality exists and preparing myself for it now is the best solution. Also, knowing that I will return to my friends who haven’t shared this experience with me and can’t relate to it will definitely be another challenge.While it may be challenging, it is one I don’t mind taking on because living abroad is by far one of the greatest opportunities I have had.
In the Introduction to Becoming World Wise, author Richard Slimbach writes, “instead of indulging a sentimental longing for an irrecoverable past, we should treat the complexity of our contemporary situation as offering a “teachable moment” that is truly exraordinary” (Slimbach 4). This sentence struck me immediately. I thought to myself, this sentence almost exactly defines liminal status. ‘Liminal status’ is given when a person, or in this situation global community, is in between two fixed places. In the traditional teaching of the rite of separation, a person has to successfully overcome their liminal status or else they will not transform as individual and take on a “new status”. Slimbach is saying that as a global society we are caught in the liminal stage of separating from what we would consider the “old world” and embracing and transitioning into our new status, the modern global society. Slimbach speaks greatly in this line to a much needed transition and movement past our liminal status, not just as individuals, but on a broader scale as well.
Slimbach goes on to write, “When we do something with others—live with them, work or study alongside them—we become something together. We construct a self that can bridge the chasms that divide us and contribute something of enduring value to others” (Slimbach 6). This quote really echoes the idea of communitas. Through shared experiences, human beings can become more connected. Study abroad programs offers the perfect setting for human bonding and friendship because it presents a new, challenging setting too all participants, making it more likely that people will “become something together” (Slimbach 6). If anything, I think that the people I meet and become friends with during this experiences, hopefully even locals, will be the greatest thing that I take away from this experience.
After much searching on the Internet, I have chosen the book Ireland Unhinged by David Monagan as my travelogue. There were certainly a lot of great choices out there. I recall one comedic novel about a guy who traveled Ireland with a fridge, hitch-hiking from place to place, all because of a dare from a friend that he wouldn’t complete such a silly task, but he did! This book resonated with me the most. It is about a man who moved his family from Connecticut, to none other than Cork, Ireland as they searched for more meaning and understanding of the world. I like how this travelogue tells the journey of a passionate man and his hopes to identify further with the ever-changing Irish culture. I think that some of the goals that he had when leaving America is what I hope to achieve as well when going abroad, and so this book was the winner!
For now I plan to spend my last two weekends visiting friends and family to say goodbye. In fact, as I complete this first travel log I am in Long Island visiting some of my friends from school to say my final goodbye. This weekend really feels like the first time where I have begun my separation process and it’s honestly a strange feeling. Saying to people “see you next year” is a weird thing, however; I would like to think it is just “see you later” and not goodbye. This last full week in America, I also hope to visit all my favorite local food and shopping spots, pack every last item that I probably won’t even need, and get mentally prepared to touch down in Ireland!