Global connections are an essential part of studying abroad. Richard Slimbach states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” Global learning has been the epitome of the past four months and something that every abroad student should have gone through. I feel like I have had a positive impact and become a part of the new culture. From the first chapter of Becoming World Wide, this is what Slimbach encourages us to do. In addition, I have discovered a new “world within” myself. I have learned so much about who I was, who I am, and who I wish to become. In the past 4 months I have become open to change, new experiences, and discovery. Prior to this experience, I was more sheltered and had little understanding of the world outside of New Jersey and Connecticut. This experience has allowed me to appreciate the world around me for all of its differences. Slimbach writes, “Global learning can contribute to earth healing, but only as it sets our imaginations free to see and experience the world differently” (Slimbach 67). As we talked about in this course, the liminal phase allows for creativity and imagination. After completing this phase, I am able to see the world differently. This course has given me the skills to reflect on this experience and grow because of it. It has allowed me to develop a larger role in my new community and feel like I am a bigger part of it. Although it seems simple now, there were many obstacles I had to go through to feel this sense of understanding and appreciation.
QU 301 has given me the skills to integrate within Barcelona. Unlike many of the other American students, I was aware of potential setbacks I would have during the semester. I was aware that, if I let it, social media would take away from my experience if used excessively. It would make me miss home and would make me focus more on posting pictures than living out my experience. Because I set expectations with my family, friends, and boyfriend, I didn’t feel the need to be attached to my phone and this was a huge part of my easy transition. I was able to create better memories and have a more well-rounded experience because of this.
As I look ahead to the next week, I can’t imagine leaving my home in Barcelona. I have had the best experiences, discovered myself, and made lifelong friends. The thought of leaving is bittersweet. It will be extremely difficult to say goodbye to my new life and the bonds I have created here. I fear having reverse culture shock when I head back to the United States. However, at the same time I feel like I have gotten the most out of my experience. I embraced every opportunity and have no regrets. I am excited for my friends and family to see the how I have changed and grown as a person. Going through this rite of passage has helped me flourish into a mature adult and the person I want to be. I have chased a lifelong dream and through that I have learned so many life skills that I hope to continue to develop back at Quinnipiac.
Coming from a huge Italian family, goodbyes have never been my strong suit. They are normally long and drawn out. Looking ahead to the next week, I realize that I need to spend time with my language partner Silvia. She has changed this experience for me, and I need to ensure that we have a proper goodbye. I cannot thank her enough for everything that she has done for me and the new world she has open my eyes to. In addition, I need to spend this time with my roommates Ashley, Tori, Lovisa, and Jacqueline who have been the backbone of this experience for me. We need to visit all of our favorite places in Barcelona and reminisce about the past 4 months.
I also need to listen to the wise words of Dr. Seuss as he says, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I can’t be sad that this experience is coming to an end, but rather I need to appreciate all that it has given me and how I can use this experiences and skills as I move forward. I have become such a strong individual and have learned how to rely on myself. It has made me want to not be stagnant and to go out and see the world. It is safe to say I have the travel bug. I look forward to taking this multicultural experience and skills and using them in my future studies and career as a physical therapist. Barcelona will always be a piece of me and a huge part of my life journey thus far. Te amo Barcelona!