Travel Log 2 “Rites of Separation: Looking behind and Looking Ahead: Expecting and Accepting the Unexpected” Ashley Moreau, Lincoln RI.

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Trying to fit all my clothes in this one suitcase, mission accepted! Fall2015

It doesn’t seem real that I am leaving in five days. I don’t feel I am ready to go at all, from a packing standpoint anyway. It has been a hectic last week of trying to gather all of my clothes and personal belongings and make them fit into one large suitcase (I am too cheap to pay an additional 100$ for a second bag). Although I am determined to pack light, I know that it won’t happen and I’m sure on Tuesday I will be painfully removing last minute items to get my bag under the weight limit! Mentally I think I am ready to go, as I have been anticipating this week for months now and I honestly couldn’t be more excited.

I have said goodbye to a lot friends and family already and yesterday I shared my separation letter with my parents; those are the only family members that I currently live with. I have two older sisters but they live in Richmond and Boston. When I sat down on the couch to share it with them, it was certainly kind of awkward at first. I shared some background information about what this class is and how we are exploring the traditional rite of passage at it connects to our journey abroad. I told them that the first phase is separation and that I will need their help to successfully separate from home. I further told them that this means they have to trust my decisions and not try to contact me everyday when I first arrive. While this may be difficult for them, especially my worrisome mother, I know that they will respect my decision and let me figure things out on my own.

The quote that I selected which culminates my feelings on the act of separation is the following, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress” –Frederick Douglass. I think this quote describes my journey of separation best; while it is a struggle, it is one that I will go through so I can grow as a person. Being this close to departure I have to be ready to leave everything behind that I’m so used to and I really feel like I am ready. I have been anticipating this moment for a long time now, so for it to finally arrive has me so excited! The only thing that may hold me back in a healthy separation is social media. Like most young adults, I am constantly scrolling through social media, and I think that doing this in Ireland will be harmful to me in trying to completely separate. It will be hard to look at pictures of my friends enjoying time together back in Hamden, CT, but I will always remind myself that being abroad is a much cooler experience. The only other thing I am not fully prepared for is the thought of living in hostels when I travel to other parts of Europe. I have become so accustomed to the cleanliness of American hotels that going to these hostels will definitely be a large change.

To me, a successful education abroad will involve really delving in and learning about Irish history and also about modern cultural issues, but at the same time befriending a local.
is my most important, meaningful goal. Part of the reason I choose Cork is because I felt this would be one of the easier locations in the world to make friends with the locals, since Irish people are so friendly. Slimach stresses the important of this in Chapter 5, explaining how a knowledgeable traveler is “one who cares enough about the peoples and places in one’s destination country to invest the time learning about them “ (128). This is important to me, a lot of people I know going abroad want to travel every weekend—that is not me. While I do want to travel and explore other cultures, I am most concerned with engrossing myself in Irish culture. I want to be able to come home in December and explain to my family what it truly feels like to live and study in Ireland for five months. I am not going to measure my success by how much I know or how many locals I have befriended at the end of this trip; instead, I will measure it based on my overall happiness and satisfaction at the end. An “unsuccessful” study abroad experience to me would be one that is too “American”. This would mean only hanging out with other U.S. students, or looking for stores, food places, and entertainment options that closely resembles our American ways.

Looking ahead, I know that this semester is going to fly by just as the summer has. I feel ready to take on some of the unexpected challenges that come with studying abroad. One expected challenge that I feel only partially ready for is having to cook for myself. Up until now I have had a meal plan, so this will be the first time in my life that I have to be totally self-sufficient food-wise. My goal is to not resort to instant meals everyday, but instead learn to cook and try new foods. I am a person who likes adventures and change, so I think with my daring attitude I will have no problem embracing both expected and unexpected challenges from this experience.

As I reflect on my journey so far, a picture that I feel best describes it, particularly what I have been thinking, is the one to the right. I am a cognitive person when it comes to reflecting on everyday situations so I think this picture represents how my brain is reflecting and understanding my journey so far. At the center  he “you” represents my brain, and on the outside the web of connections is all of the people, things and ideas I have had to put together thus far to prepare for my separation from home. Sometimes I felt like my brain is on overdrive trying to make sure I had every done that I need, that is why I choose this image with a lot going to represent my moments of confusion and overwhelming thoughts. But at the same time, the web can represent all of the people that I am connected to at home and how they have helped me remain calm and get ready for this life-changing experience abroad!

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6 thoughts on “Travel Log 2 “Rites of Separation: Looking behind and Looking Ahead: Expecting and Accepting the Unexpected” Ashley Moreau, Lincoln RI.

  1. I love the last picture that you incorporated to signify the way that you are dealing with the separation phase of the Rites of Passage. I am very much the same way where I tend to overwhelm myself before a big change in my life. I also agree with your study abroad goals of trying new foods, learning about the culture in every aspect and befriending a local! I can’t wait to start the semester!

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    • There really was no way to prepare mentally for this journey. Looking where we are at now, almost done with our second week here, it is truly amazing how much we have learned and grown as individuals. I remember my horrible fear the first day and I’m glad that is has been replaced by less chaotic, more excited thoughts. Together we can really delve into Irish culture!

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  2. My trip to Italy in a couple days doesn’t feel real either! It felt more real today actually because I said bye to some relatives but other than that it’s hard to believe I’ll be going to another place so far from home. I really liked the quote you used about struggle. In my singing group at QU we always say struggle is good because it forces you to work to make things better. When we travel to our respective places of study, we are going to have to struggle to live and learn the new cultures that await us.

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    • I agree with you that this whole experience is hard to grapple with! I have been here almost two weeks and its not that it doesn’t feel “real”, its more like it seems surreal. I keep waking up every morning forgetting that I am in a foreign country and won’t be back home until Christmas time. While this sometimes overwhelms me, I think that this internal struggle of wanting to be home but also to be able to break free completely is important for my progress as an individual. That is is why I really liked that quote– It spoke personally to me!

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  3. Ashley, I felt so awkward when I first sat down with my parents to share my letter as well. I did not want them to feel offended because I wanted to gain more independence while I am abroad. I want them to know I still need them but that I also need to learn to navigate the world on my own. I am glad your parents support your decision, as did mine, which feels great because it is even easier to move forward in this experience knowing there are people supporting and wanting the best for you back home. I also love the quote you chose because it always says how while we are abroad we will face a lot of challenges and struggles but these will only make us stronger, which is what I hope to become through this experience. Wishing you the best of luck!

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    • While it was very awkward, I think it was definitely an important conversation. Having been here three weeks now, I think I have successfully separated. I don’t talk to them everyday but I do message them often. While I miss them dearly (that is one of the biggest challenges about being away) I am glad that I embarking on this journey. I hope that your transition in Barcelona is going well and that you have settled in nicely!

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