I have been living here in Barcelona for over a month now and it is unbelievable how fast the time has gone by. I now have started to feel like I am becoming a part of the community and less like a person just visiting a country. The employees at the supermarket recognize me, I know how to get around the city better, and I have learned the certain phrases that are used here in Barcelona. Although there is still much more for me to learn, I feel that I am adapting to the culture here and I am feeling more comfortable with the atmosphere that surrounds me.
As each of us go through this process we can consider ourselves to be “mindful travelers.” Slimbach describes a mindful traveler as someone who is curious and understanding of the different culture they are entering into and a person who is accepting of the host country’s customs. Many of us decided to study abroad to immerse ourselves into a new culture and experience self-growth with the community we are now surrounded by. “The “new” mindful traveler aims to be sensible, sensitive, sophisticated, and sustainable” (Kindle 1563). As mindful travelers we are open to expanding our knowledge and immersing ourselves into a culture that will create a new “self.” Slimbach also mentions the “carefree drifter,” or “mass tourist.” This is a person who is unaware of the personal growth and cultural differences that surround him or her when traveling to another country. For the carefree drifter, they only want to experience the glamour of being in another country, they do not see past that idea and do not understand the personal growth that comes from immersing into a different culture.
Most of us are creatures of habit. Our tendency is to do things- including travel-related things- on automatic pilot, largely oblivious to the moments themselves and how they impact the world around us (Kindle 1437).
The carefree drifter does not know how to venture out of their comfort zone and embrace the global diversity.
In our workshop we defined a global community as being “A shared living space of interdependent individuals endowed with universal human rights while choosing to act upon them, embracing differences and working toward common goals.” I think our definition has a lot of good points in defining global community. We acknowledge that there are cultural differences within a community. I think that I would also add that a global community promotes self-growth. There is much to learn in this study abroad experience, especially when making intercultural relationships and learning more from the host culture.
I think that those who want to successfully become a part of the host community and achieve self-growth need to incorporate the idea of mindful traveling. Some students choose to study abroad to just have fun and party, but many of us are in another country to learn more about this world that we live in. I feel that throughout this experience I have been incorporating mindful traveling and will continue to do so and even more. I attempt to speak Spanish with each store I walk into or local I meet, and I have interacted with many locals here by going to dance classes in Barcelona and participating in the activities my program provides.
The picture I choose to post here represents one important aspect of mindful traveling. It is important to step outside of our comfort zones and to try something new. In order to get the best out of this experience, we must be willing to take chances on things that we would not consider the norm, or things that seem different than what we are used to.