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 301 seminar 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.