While initially I was worried about sitting through workshops early on a Saturday and Sunday morning, I found them to be extremely interesting. Not only did I learn more about the process of ROP that I would be going through myself, but the workshops also excited me even more for my upcoming international experience. I have always believed that studying abroad is an experience that can go in either direction based on how the student acts and reacts to it. After the workshops, I felt even stronger about keeping an open mind and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to reach the full potential of the international opportunity. However, because of how open-minded I am I hadn’t really thought about how going abroad may affect me negatively, especially during the liminal phase. The workshops really showed me what to expect and how to overcome the inevitable “tricksters” that everyone runs into. I never thought that I would be one to become stuck because of tricksters, but the workshops showed me that things such as mentors or communitas could help me through. I think that understanding the fact that “tricksters” are a part of almost anyone’s liminal phase will calm me when I encounter them myself in Florence.
After seeing the way that the workshops inspired everyone to fully experience and immerse themselves during their study abroad, I think it’s very important that every community engages in Rites of Passage. The reason is that by doing so, members of the community acknowledge significant changes that would normally go unnoticed. With community engagement in a member’s transition, it strengthens the bonds between members and there is something to be learned by everyone. I found it interesting that a lack of formal rites of passage was prominent in areas such as the U.S. and how that affected those societies. Without active participation in rites of passage, “society has no clear expectation of how people should participate in these roles and therefore individuals do not know what is required by society” as stated by Grimes. The roles Grimes was describing are those such as being an adult. This concept made me wonder that if ROP were more important to communities, then maybe it would not be as acceptable for young adults to still be living off the support of their parents as many do today.
Two concepts that were discussed in the Introduction of Becoming World Wise are the importance of facing challenges during rites of passage and of carefully reflecting throughout the process. Slimbach discusses the difference between simply “being there” and actually achieving the full potential of a global experience. The difference depends on how much we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. When we don’t do this Slimbach states, “’cocooning’ occurs, (and) we can’t expect much deep learning to take place” (Slimbach, 7). This idea is also something we discussed in our first workshop where the challenges of the liminal phase were highlighted. It is from facing these challenges head on, even while they may discomfort us, that result in new learning. Because rites of passage are all a learning experience in which we grow from, reflection at all phases is key. The reason for this is that careful reflection forces us to think about events from the past and present and connect them to one another to shape future events. During reflection we can observe the growth in ourselves during the study abroad process as discussed in workshop two. Slimbach also mentions this as “predeparture training and postsojourn analysis” (Slimbach, 9). In the reflection before departure we “consider the ultimate purposes and practical learning strategies needed for us to enter deeply into our host culture;” while in the postsojourn process we integrate our “experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives” (Slimbach, 9). Both concepts I have discussed will be extremely important to me during my abroad experience as I can only push its learning potential to the amount that I push myself to overcome various challenges. Additionally, reflection will help guide me through discovering the growth I have made since first leaving to coming back home.
As my travelogue, I have chosen to invest my time reading, “Ciao Pussy!: A Memoir of Florence,” to learn more about the city. This memoir covers the travels of the author Susan Kelley and her husband as they live in Florence for a few years, and depicts the fascinating people they run into along the way and finding themselves among the amazing culture of Italy. I chose this among all other travelogues of Florence because although it was longer, the reviews all felt she made the experience “come alive” for them with her humor and insight.