Recently it feels like every conversation I have eventually leads into the topic of studying abroad. All of my friends and family are so interested in what I am doing and excited for this new journey in my life. I have noticed one common question that seems to come up extremely frequently. “Are you going with anyone you know?” Everyone is a bit surprised when I say that I’m not. I do know some people’s names, I’ve had a few conversations with each of them since I found out we are going together. I also have a roommate who I have been keeping in contact with, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m traveling with any of my best friends.
This got me thinking about communitas and what we were taught in the QU301 workshops. In my life transitions thus far, I have almost always had someone very close to me by my side experiencing the same transitions I have. For example, all throughout grade school and graduation I had my best friends from home. A few friends from home even came to college with me, so I walked into school and dorm life already knowing some people and had a nice safety net to fall back on. Now here I am going to Spain for 4 months and I don’t even know much about the people whom I will be sharing this experience with. This scares me a little, but knowing and recognizing that I have communitas helps. Whether I truly know them or not, they are there and will probably face similar challenges and ups and downs. As my departure date draws closer, it has been helpful for me to keep in mind that I am not alone. I am excited to get to know my communitas on a new level, different from any of my other friends back home or at QU.
Another thing that stood out to me from the workshops is how well the rites of passage formula fits so many situations. When it was first presented to me I was a bit hesitant to accept that all life transitions have an old, liminal, and new status and that challenges, mentors, and communitas are present in each scenario. But the more I thought about it during and after the workshops, the more I was able to understand how successful rites of passage occur. I already feel that I am more capable of identifying each of the stages and I am prepared to recognize them throughout my study abroad journey.
In the introduction to Becoming World Wise, Slimbach states “Although the potential for acquiring a truly global education has never been greater, actually achieving it requires more than simply “being there.” Much depends on whether our field experiences are structured in ways that promote meaningful intellectual and intercultural learning.” (Slimbach, 7) I felt that this quote really applied to the workshops and this course as a whole because from what I understand, the whole point of it is to enrich the study abroad experience by being aware of the changes you are experiencing as well as understanding cultural differences. Different than just vacationing in another country for a few days or even weeks, study abroad requires acceptance of and immersion into a foreign culture. It’s more than just sight seeing and learning because it really involves a change in the student’s life. I feel that knowing the rites of passage formula along with its components will assist me in analyzing my transition and make it as meaningful and successful as possible. I also think that my heightened awareness in the liminal stage of my transition will help me to appreciate the differences between my home country and Spain. I want to take in as much as I can about life in another country because this experience will probably be the closest I ever come to understanding it.
The travelogue I chose is called Spain from a Backpack. I chose this book because the description seemed the most exciting to me out of all the ones I looked at. When I read the first few pages online it was written in a very vivid and relatable way and had me wanting to jump on a plane and get to Spain. It tells about cultural events and experiences from foreigners’ perspectives. There are multiple authors in this book telling about their individual experiences, which I thought would be fun and attention grabbing because it will enable me to get more than one person’s view on things.