As my time left in the US dwindles away, the whole concept of studying abroad is becoming so much more real to me. Looking back at the workshops, I’m thinking a lot about the separation phase of the traditional Rites of Passage theory. I know we talked a lot about how effectively separating from your home community is very important in order to truly complete the Rites of Separation. The separation phase is what I know is going to be the most difficult thing for me. We discussed social media, and how that both helps and hurts the separation phase because it makes people able to communicate much easier, even from across the world. This concept really stuck with me, and it makes me think about how often I should be connecting with people from home. What is the correct amount to speak to my friends and family from home? I don’t want missing home to take over my whole experience, but I also don’t want to lose touch with my friends. The workshops also made me think more about thinking, as crazy as that sounds. We talked so much about planning and reflecting, which are things I hardly ever do. Even if I make a plan, I rarely stick to it. I prefer doing things spontaneously. However, I know that, especially going to a different country, planning is really important if I want to get the most out of my experience there. I also know that it is important to reflect on emotions, actions, and thinking. I really want to try to plan and reflect more throughout my study abroad experience. I think that will help to make the whole experience even more enriching.
I know it’s early to be thinking about coming home already, but I also have been thinking about reincorporation, that is, coming home to the US after my time in London. We learned in the workshops that the Rite of Passage should serve as a transformation for the individual and the community in which he or she resides. I think Slimbach put this very well when he said, “Global learning must be not only in the world but also for it. Educational travel should leave the world a saner, stronger, and more sustainable place” (Slimbach 8). This puts a very broad view on the concept of reincorporation into the global society post-studying abroad. He says that you should transform the world through your experience. We have been talking about transforming our communities on a much smaller level, meaning at Quinnipiac or in our hometowns. However, we are becoming changed members of the global community, as well, and I really liked that Slimbach drew attention to that. This really pertains to studying abroad, especially for me. I have spent almost my entire life within the borders of the United States, so I have never truly experienced another culture. I’m hoping that by implanting myself in England I will really get to see what they live like, and how it is similar and different to the US. I also hope that I will be able to, in some small way, make the world a better place.
There is another quote from the Introduction to Becoming World Wise that I believe really connects to the Liminal Phase of the Rite of Passage theory. We learned in the workshops that the Liminal Phase consists of challenges, mentors, communitas, and tricksters. Slimbach writes, “In a world that is smaller and yet more complex than ever before, our educational challenge is to understand and to value both our differences and our commonalities, our separateness and our togetherness” (Slimbach 6). This encompasses the general nature of communitas, since the students that I’m studying abroad with are going through the same experience, so we are similar. At the same time, we’re all from different places and studying different things, so our individual experiences will be different. However, we have to bring our similarities and differences together in order to help each other complete the Liminal Phase.
My birthday was recently (Finally 19), and my mom got me so many things related to London. She got me a traveler’s guide to London, several maps of the city, and this special spray she had researched that apparently everyone uses. You spray it on your shoes to make them water resistant (since it rains all the time in London). All of this helps me to learn about the place where I’ll be living. I also selected a travelogue to help me learn more about the culture of England. This book is entitled A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside (picture from Amazon) by Susan Branch, an American woman who visited the country parts of England in addition to the cities. I chose this book because I thought it would give me another point of view of England. I will be living right in the center of London, so I know I will be immersed in the culture of the city from the start. But I also know it is really important to experience the countryside as well, because that is part of the culture of England, too. I’m really excited to embark on this amazing journey: 11 days!