Today marks 9 days until my departure date. While, admittedly, I have little to nothing packed, I have been mentally preparing for this time to finally come. Being a homebody, I am taking a huge leap to head abroad for an entire semester. This leaves me in a kind of awkward state of mind – with a mix of both excitement and uneasiness. With that said, the separation/ pre-liminal phase has officially kicked in. In these next few days, I need to focus on preparing to leave my home community here in Rhode Island and enter my host culture in Barcelona.
One thing from the workshop that resonated with me was the emphasis on reflection. After all, a Rite of Passage is essentially a ceremony of a life transition. Going through such a journey without reflecting on its importance and realizing how you have changed/ what you have learned is essentially meaningless. Another concept from the workshop that we discussed that stuck with me was the concept of a global community. As a class, we came up with the definition of a global community as “a community comprised of all living things who make up smaller communities that are conjoined by the desire to achieve human rights.” The purpose of this entire course is to explore the Rites of Passage theory and combine it with the study abroad student and the global community. We discussed that most of us were not really active members in the global community. Again, this resonated with me because of the fact that we are all studying abroad to become active members in the global community.
Reading through Slimbah’s introduction, I gained a lot of insight into what this book will be about as well as noticed a number of parallels between what we learned in the workshop and the topics Slimbach will be addressing. The whole idea of this course is to reflect meaningfully on our experiences studying abroad as we go through this Rite of Passage. Slimbach discusses that while studying abroad has been easier and “the potential for acquiring a truly global education has never been greater, actually achieving it requires more than simply “being there” (Slimbach, 7). What the author is saying there is essentially the backbone of this course; one needs to analyze their time while abroad, for simply just being in your host country is not going to help you get meaning out of the journey. A second workshop concept that Slimbach mentions pertains to reflective practice of gaining a full body experience. He says: “this text will assist anyone who is intent on having his or her whole being—body, mind, and heart—stretched through the intercultural experience but who perhaps is unsure about how to prepare for it or fully benefit from it.” (6) This relates to Bochner’s ABC model of culture contact, which connects actions, thoughts and emotions to reflective practice. Understanding these two theories and applying them to my study abroad experience will help me gain a deeper meaning from my time abroad.
The travelogue I chose is A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz. The book explores the journey of a successful businessman who retired early to travel the world. More specifically, the book focuses on Koontz’s pilgrimage route walking 500 miles throughout Spain. This book stuck with me because it not only covers the physical voyage throughout the country, but expands to the internal adventure he experienced as well.