Slimbach’s quote, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” is a great concise way of summing up my time abroad. I’ve learned about Europe, but more importantly a lot about myself. The things I’ve done, the interactions I’ve had, and the places I’ve traveled have taught me to be more open minded and accepting. And just as Slimbach says at a later point in his text, “external experience may occupy most of our waking hours, but we ultimately live from the depths of our being—from our intentions, ideas and impulses” (65). It’s not just the externalities, but how I’ve changed as a person.
My global connections have contributed to my growth as a member of the global community greatly. The biggest amount of growth I’ve experienced in my opinion is that I’ve become more appreciative and accepting of cultures. Each country I visited had such different ways of living. It was amazing to be able to experience a little of each of them. It’s changed my opinion on some things and gotten rid of some stereotypes. It’s also given me a general awareness of Europe as a whole, thus making me a better global citizen.
As the time draws nearer, I’m getting excited to head home. While I love Europe, there’s just no place like home. But don’t let my excitement mask my melancholy. While I can’t wait to go home I’m also going to greatly miss this side of the Atlantic. It’s the cliché bittersweet feeling, I know. I’ve had the time of my life while abroad and nothing will ever be able to replace it. The strong bonds I’ve formed with the people and the culture here are something very new to me; I can’t say I’ve had a feeling like this before. Traveling the world with others takes it a step further from just living with them. But that’s why I’ve been adamant that I want to keep the friendships I’ve made abroad. As a sort of ‘goodbye’ I took everyone out to dinner this past weekend when we were all traveling together in Budapest. It was great to reflect on all the times we’ve had while and abroad and gave us a chance to really understand the depth of friendship that has been created and to appreciate that. I think my emotions and actions right now will make the reincorporation phase of this Rite of Passage a bit more difficult than I expected. By this point I assumed I would be perfectly fine picking up my things and heading home, but that’s not the case. The relationships I’ve formed are most likely going to make it a bit more difficult for me to reincorporate because I’ll have that added emotional burden.
The quote I chose to describe my current thoughts/feelings at this moment in the experience is “you will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place,” by Miriam Adeney. This perfectly describes how I’m currently feeling: a bittersweet nostalgia. I know, I haven’t left yet, but the semester is rapidly coming to an end and it’s been evident that my time here is coming to and end. I’ve taken the past few days to really think about my abroad experience—how many new places I’ve been to, how many awesome new people I’ve met. I’ll fully admit that I am excited to head home back to Rhode Island where everyone speaks English! But as I’m packing my things here I can’t help but feel that I’m going to leave a little bit of myself here in Europe. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing! I’ll forever have the bonds between the friends I’ve made during this semester and that is something I’ll cherish.