Preparing for the final separation can be a daunting task. As I wrote my separation letter for my family, I mulled over exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to present it. I finally decided to sit down with my parents this past Sunday and share with them my ideas about separation and the changes I would undergo in my time abroad. Sitting at our kitchen table and having a serious conversation about why I wanted to embark on this journey and how it would impact my life, helped facilitate a wonderful conversation between my parents and me about what both of us need to make this journey successful.
As the final departure approaches it is essential to think about what I truly desire out of this study abroad experience. If there is one thing I want this study abroad experience to be for me, I want it to be a challenge. This is not to say that I want everything I encounter to be extremely difficult, but I want to grow and learn from this experience. That means I want my trip to challenge me intellectually, emotionally, and socially
I want them to push me to become a better student and learn in new ways. I hope that this experience teaches me to think outside of my normal course of thought and push my mind to be more creative. The academic travel experience that we go through is a great opportunity to take your learning outside of the classroom and apply it to the real world. The challenge intellectually will stretch outside the classroom as well. Simply traveling to various countries will push me to enhance my directional and communication skills, as well as promote a better understanding of my surroundings.
I desire to use this trip as an experience to grow emotionally. As Slimbach says, “Rather, we allow ourselves to be affected by our host culture in ways that yield new insight, fresh perspective, and richer cultural comparisons- the ‘brick and mortar’ for constructing a better life, whether on an individual, national or global level” (p. 164). It is so important to prepare emotionally to enter into a new cultural and want to grow in your time there. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on my life and evaluate where I want to go and who I want to be.
Finally, I want this trip to challenge me socially. It is easy at home to hang out with a small group of individuals who have common interests and share a similar way of thinking. Since Franklin is such a small school, you get to know many people very well. There are people from over 35 countries just in the entering class. I want to meet people from various other countries and learn about their customs. It is a wonderful opportunity to embrace the diversity that all of the students bring to the table. Since Franklin’s campus is mixed with the city of Lugano it is also a great way to get to know the local culture. I want to get involved in the community and meet local students, as well as local residents. Being in the city will allow me to go and explore the language and customs of my surrounding area.
The combination of my desire for challenge and sense of adventure are two traits I feel will help me in my new environment. I want to take this opportunity to try anything new and take full advantage of my host culture. This is an opportunity unlike any other and I hope my time here will help me to grow and experience new things.