In some instances, the hardest information to share is your own thoughts with the people that are closest to you. This is generally because you aren’t sure how they are going to react to the words that you want them to either hear or read. In order to help my girlfriend understand the thought processes that I am having while entering into this study abroad experience, I decided to address my separation letter to her. I thought she was the most important person to share this information with because we spend almost every single day together and if we are not together in person, we are most likely texting each other. I wanted to share this letter with her in an area that I knew she was comfortable in and I made sure that I wasn’t in the room so she had some time to herself to read it and then we would be able to discuss it afterwards. I didn’t want the information that I was sharing with her to upset her so I decided that it would be better to share it after the holidays so I gave it to her after all of the festivities as a way of winding down the end of the day.
To be completely honest, I was surprised by her reactions, she was anticipating that she would be upset by what I had to share with her as I had informed her that I needed to write a letter for my class and that she was the person that I would be addressing it to. She told me that when I gave her the letter that I should be surprised if I came back to her with tears in her eyes, but to my surprise there was not a tear to be found. Instead, the only initial comment that I received about the letter was that there were some grammatical mistakes that she considered fixing while reading the letter, but went against her better judgment.
With regards to the letter, I decided to use a quote by George Bernard Shaw, which said, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” I decided to include this quote because I think it perfectly describes the mindset that I have. I have always had goal that I wanted to accomplish in my life and as I get older, I feel that I am coming closer and closer to those goals. With that being said, I need to take this trip in order to make some changes and without making those changes there will be no progress made. By making that change or separating I can potentially change anything that I set my mind to.
After writing this letter and following through with the exercise, I feel that I am ready to separate form what I am familiar to. I know that there are going to be challenges and this being my first time away from home for an extended period of time I expect to become homesick, but I know that that will only be an initial reaction and as I become accustomed to my new environment it will be hard for me to be able to leave in the end. I think the fact that I am so connected with my friends and family that I may have some trouble in the beginning to separate because they will want to know what I am doing and how things are different over seas, but I have to keep in mind that I am taking this journey to discover myself and what it is like to be on my own in the world.
While looking toward the future and what this experience holds for me, I believe that a successful education abroad experience will leave me having a better understanding of my place in this world and how small the United States is compared to the rest of the world. We, as a nation, are always paying attention to what is happening inside of our country, but only pay attention to the rest of the world when something catastrophic has happened. I want to get away from that thinking and I think by taking this trip, I will be able to find my focus. As Slimbach noted, “The goal of educational travel is to help us navigate this complex and contradictory world while challenging the limits of our intellectual and intercultural abilities.” (Pg. 8,Slimbach) This experience that I am undertaking is to challenge myself in this ever-evolving world and be able to comprehend the reasons why those changes are happening. An unsuccessful abroad experience would leave me taking nothing from the trip and being homesick the whole time, which I could never imagine happening in a million years. In order to measure the success of my journey, I plan on keeping my own personal travel journal to make not of what I am experiencing, in order to be able to recall the memories that are being made as well as something that my friends and family will be able to read when I come home. This journal will be my way of measuring my success because it will allow me to recall everything that I have accomplished while abroad.
I know that there are going to be things that I am going to encounter that are going to be strange to me and since I am expecting it to happen it will not be as much of a shock for me (hopefully). I have always had an open mind so that it the one trait that I am going to rely on when faced with a new experience because you will not learn anything if you are not open to trying something at least once. When I was younger I wasn’t allowed to leave the dinner table until I ate as many bites as our age of something new that was presented to us during the meal. That is a lesson that I am going to remember for the rest of my life because I will always try something once before passing judgment on it.
In order to describe my journey so far, I want to include a picture of my biggest supporter. Although I know that she is going to miss me like no other, she knows that I need to take this journey and she is going to take a journey of her own in order to make some personal growth. This picture symbolizes my journey so far because of there is a separation between my best friend and I but even though there is distance we are still happy for each other because we are following our dreams and that is what this entire journey is about, following my dreams.