I write this with only 19 days remaining on what has perhaps been the greatest time of my life. I’ve gotten to explore eight European countries, learning about each area’s culture along the way. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey too. During my time abroad I have become more aware of the global community. This course in particular has also been essential to my growth as an individual and as a global citizen. I definitely agree with Blumenkrantz and Goldstein that the absence of community-based rituals presents a problem for the healthy development of the Global Community. The authors argue that American’s don’t acknowledge cultural rituals in a way that effectively help children to transition into adulthood. This layout doesn’t promote the growth of the individual. The authors state this when they said, “In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally.” The American youth of today is more prone to mixing in with the crowd and being blind to worldly concepts. Taking this course and going abroad has given me new worldly perspectives, made me more sensitive to other cultures, and a better global citizen. Having a clear structure of a right of passage with a community base has had a large effect on me as an individual, which makes me more aware to this issue that Blumenkrantz and Goldstein point out (and makes me feel very positively about it as well).
A digital story is one that provides a viewpoint into our times abroad. It offers a deeper perspective through each individual’s experience. You get to look through another lens for the few minutes and see the before and after of the student. In essence, it is a culmination and summarization of the entire journey. It allows those that watch it to appreciate and understand how you’ve changed as an individual over the last three months. The three elements of rites of passage that I have chosen are time alone for reflection, silence and adversity or personal challenge. The time alone for reflection and silence go hand in hand for me. They play important roles in my life because naturally I’m a very quiet person. I like to have my own space and tend to reflect quite a lot. Having time alone to do these things help me to sort out what is important in my life and also allows me to gather and understand my values, actions and beliefs. I especially enjoy having time alone for reflection in nature, such as on a mountain or along the shore of a lake. The other element that is of importance to me is adversity or personal challenge, which is described as “experiences that challenge the individual emotionally and/or physically and which present opportunities to learn new values and/or skills. This can easily be related to my time abroad because of the language barrier here. Entering Spain with very little knowledge of Spanish was intimidating and quite challenging. It remains a challenge to this day but it has presented me with an opportunity to learn new skills. Today I can now get along on a daily basis speaking basic Spanish to order food, or just have a very basic conversation with someone. That’s something I’m very happy that I’ve been able to accomplish on this journey.
The digital story that I connected most with was Caitlin Murphy’s who studied abroad in the Netherlands. I found that the elements within her story are very similar to the ones I plan on using in mine. She described how she went on this journey to do it for herself; she made it her responsibility to keep moving throughout the roller coaster of emotions that one experiences abroad. I liked how she used the metaphor of a bike, and that studying abroad is like riding without clamping down on the brakes. She encouraged pedaling through life, for it will lead one to new places and to a new state of mind. The elements I found as common themes were silence and time to reflect. She mentioned the times she sat in the park in the mornings just closing her eyes as well as other times in which she reflected on her time abroad. It seemed like she grew as a person and that her time abroad had a big effect on her. I hope that I too can have that feeling of personal growth by the end of my time here.