I honestly cannot believe that the time has come for me to write this travel log. I have been waiting for the day when I truly felt like my abroad journey was going to begin since our first meetings in April. By beginning this blog post, I now feel like I can forget the stress of working my summer away and truly relish in my excitement for the adventure that awaits me in the next four months.
Thinking back to our workshops in April, it is hard to chose just one or two concepts that resonate with me because I found that there were so many ideas I took away that will help me make my experience in Barcelona more meaningful. One of these was a quote that was provided to us on slide 35 of our “QU 301 Rites of Passage: The Global Study Abroad Student and the Global Community” packet. The quote reads, “The main reason for having rites of passage is to enable mindful attendance to events that might otherwise pass us by.” (Grimes, 2000, p.96). This quote truly said a lot to me because one of the most important goals I have for my abroad trip is to truly become a Spanish student. I do not wish to just be an American student studying in Spain. What I mean by this is that I do not want to walk alongside Spanish culture and let it pass me by. I want to truly embrace the Spanish culture and take it in and let it become a part of me. I want to be aware of all of the beautiful differences that surround me and learn to love all of them even in times when I am missing my comfort zone and my home. I think that through this class I will be much more aware of not just looking from the outside in on my study abroad experience but really becoming immersed in it and enjoying every up and down about it. This also brings up another concept that was important to me during the workshop and that was the idea of communitas, defined on slide 29 of our “QU 301 Rites of Passage: The Global Study Abroad Student and the Global Community” packet as, “unlikely friends facing challenges together”. Through this experience, I will be able to meet other study abroad students from many other places who are going through the same experience as me. I will be able to relate with them and we will be able to share a special bond because of the path that we are walking together.
In the introduction to the book Becoming World Wise by Richard Slimbach, he writes, “One of the great joys of educational travel […] is to experience familiar things within an unfamiliar context […] The world becomes a living classroom – a place to watch and wonder […] To be thus ‘liberated’ from the constraints of ignorance” (Slimbach, 2010, p. 5). The way Slimbach speaks about a study abroad experience immediately had me thinking about the liminal phase of a traditional rite of passage. The liminal phase of a rite of passage is when you are in the in between phase of your old and new self, as our “QU 301 Rites of Passage: The Global Study Abroad Student and the Global Community” packet states on slide 19. This is the time when one is supposed to be exploring, learning, experimenting, and changing. Slimbach recognizes the time in a new country in study abroad experience as the liminal phase when he speaks about how the host country because a living classroom. This is exactly what the liminality phase is about, learning, and Slimbach speaks of this in exactly the way that I think of my liminality phase being. I want my liminality phase in Barcelona to be the time that I spend learning not just in the classroom but everywhere I go and in every new experience I have. I want to let all of Barcelona be my classroom.
Further along in Slimbach’s introduction of Becoming World Wise, he writes, “When we do something with others- live with them, work or study alongside them, we become something together” (Slimback, 2010, p.6). Slimbach is directly touching upon the important concept of communitas that I mentioned earlier. The people who one works, studies or lives with, might not be ones friends at first. But these are the people who you turn to when you face challenges because they are the ones going through the same challenges as you. Coworkers can relate to you when you are complaining about your boss because they have the same boss and know what you are complaining about. The people you live with can relate to you about the cost of your rent, or the poor shower pressure because they are dealing with the same problems. Through these connections, friends are made in unlikely places because of the challenges that you are facing with these people. This is very relevant to my study abroad experience because although I will be living with two Quinnipiac students that I am friends with, I will also be living with two other girls who I recently found out about who are students from Bentley University. I hope that I will find communitas in these girls because they will be going through the same experience that I am in Barcelona.
The book I have chosen to bring with me to Barcelona is A guiri’s adventure: Barcelona through the eyes of an American by Greta Paa-Kerner. I took the picture shown while I was writing this travelogue of the book. I chose this book because it is written by an American author so I feel as though my viewpoints may be similar to the authors regarding her experiences and mine in Barcelona. I also chose this book because it’s description says the book talks about both the highs and lows of the author’s first year abroad. I think this will be helpful to me because if I am ever at a low point in Barcelona, I can read about this author’s low points and connect to them and allow those connections to make me feel better because I will be able to relate to them.
Entering into my last day of work tomorrow, I will be both excited and nervous because the next week is where I will begin my packing, shopping, and most importantly, my goodbyes. I will cherish this last week with my family and friends before I leave for a true adventure. Next stop: Barcelona, Spain.