I am about a week away from my departure date and the nerves are starting to kick in. Although I am very excited to be studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, I am nervous because this is the first time that I will ever be flying overseas and experiencing a country with a different culture than the one that I have always known here. I have not yet packed anything in my suitcases, and I am preparing for my goodbyes to my close friends before my departure.
Although I do feel a little nervous about my study abroad experience, I have felt that some of the concepts we learned in our workshops have helped me to prepare better for traveling to another country. One concept that we learned was the idea of liminality, which is when a person is living between two structured worlds; the old self and the new self. As each of us go through this study abroad experience, we will be going through this process of liminality. Living in a foreign country and being surrounded by a different culture is going to change each of us and shape us into a new person. I think that this experience will positively influence me and shape me to be an even better person. With the liminal status, I will be learning more about myself and reflecting on the experiences that are going to shape me into a new person.
With the process of liminality also comes the stage of reincorporation. This is when the person who has now passed the liminal stage, must return to the community with their “new status.” I understand that studying abroad in Barcelona is going to shape me and change me, and that once I return home, I must take these experiences with me and incorporate my new status into my community. In the introduction of Richard Slimbach’s, Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning, he writes about the process of global learning. “Much depends on why and how we leave, and also how we return. Again that’s what makes predeparture training and postsojourn analysis so important” (Slimbach 270). This experience is going to help me grow as a person and I have to take what I learn over there and apply it to my community when I return.
During our workshop we watched the documentary, Crossing Borders, which follows four Moroccan and four American students as they live together for a few weeks in Morocco. The film shows how they interact learning of each other’s differences, cultures, and similarities. There are moments when the students clash because of the different backgrounds, but also other moments of understanding. “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 togetherness” (Slimbach 203). I understand that when I go abroad I am going to meet so many people who have different cultures than mine. I hope to learn more about each of these cultures and to expand my mind more than ever before. I think studying abroad will be good for both me and the people I meet because we can learn from each other and understand the differences and similarities we may have.
Since I will be traveling to Barcelona, for my travelogue I chose A Guiri’s Adventure: Barcelona Through the Eyes of an American. This book follows the travel of Greta Paa-Kerner and her experience living in Barcelona. I hope to learn a lot from reading this book and that I can apply what I read here to my personal experience when traveling abroad. With this final week of being home, I am preparing myself for an unforgettable experience.
Paa-Kerner, Greta. A Guiri’s Adventure. Digital image. Amazon. Web.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC. 2010. Web.