Travel Log 1: “Laying a Foundation” and Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Separation” by Ryan Flagg

Travel Log 1:

In the workshops back in November, I had an overall enjoyment of the experience. I thought the two days we had were perfect to show us general concepts and ideas people have when studying abroad. A lot was covered in those two days, but I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of information I was receiving. One interesting thing I learned was that Rites of Passage are different for everyone. It all depends on your perspective and how one can use that passage into the global community. Our working definition of a Global Community really resonated with me because it’s something I’ve always used whenever I go somewhere new or meet new people. A Global Community, as we determined, is 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 having an open mind when traveling is the best thing to carry with you. Having an open mind within the global community opens you up to so many experiences such as language, food, etc. This ties in with one of Richard Slimbach’s concepts, “The Common Good.” Simply being a good human being and having that open-mindedness makes for a better overall journey to a new country and culture. He mentions that a main part of global learning is balance. This balance is all about juggling critical thinking with attitude. “I use this phrase as a beacon that points us in a particular direction, toward seeing the ultimate goal of global learning as the healing of a broken world.” (Slimbach, 9). Going into a new experience with a positive attitude, like Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama does, allows you as a traveler to think differently than when you would in your home country.

For a travelogue I’ve chosen “Japan: Its History and Culture” by W. Scott Morton and J. Kenneth Olenik. I picked this mainly because it was one of two books about Japan other than a plethora of travel guides in my local Barnes and Noble. It goes into full detail about cultural traditions and norms, while also describing many of Japan’s government changes from the Edo Period to modern day. I definitely think this book will be helpful during my travels, in addition to my coursework and schooling.

Image via Amazon.com (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51it6YJP3vL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

51it6YJP3vL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Travel Log 2:

When writing my separation letter and sharing it with my parents the day before I left for Japan, I found there really wasn’t anything to worry about in terms of separation. I was fully aware of this when I started to apply back in the Fall. My parents have always been on board (figuratively) with my studies and travels, so sitting down and briefly discussing my leaving was no problem at all. The most emotion all three of us had was just pure hype. In the section in the letter, “You can help me healthfully separate by…”, we discussed the best way to separate was to get my butt on the plane as fast as I can! In a way, I’ve been past the separation part of this experience since the end of December. My parents recently bought a house in Florida and they stayed there for the majority of my winter break. Because of this I stayed at home in New Hampshire by myself. I’m already insanely independent, and I’m able to get by just fine without the help of others (although it is nice when I do receive help). Also, I’m a college student, so separating from home life has been a piece of cake since Freshman year. I’ve also found myself long before this travel process started, so there really wasn’t anything holding me back from having experiences around the world.

For me, a “successful” education abroad experience would entail investing fully into the Japanese language, culture, traditions and norms. An “unsuccessful” experience (which, I’m not even sure is entirely possible – I’m in JAPAN!), would probably just shutting myself in my room, becoming what’s called here an “otaku.” (basically someone without a social life who sits at home all day). It’s only been a couple of days and I’ve found awesome success in terms of getting around, buying food, and meeting a ton of new people from different backgrounds and cultures. Although there’s no official motto for Japan, I’m pretty sure it would be “expect the unexpected.” This place is so bizarre and I love it. The character traits I’ve brought with me, as I’ve discussed previously, are certainly my open-mindedness, independence and kindness. In my short time here, I already have a huge appreciation for diversity and for the people of Japan. The language barrier isn’t as crazy as you’d think, and because of that I’ve been able to meet a variety of interesting characters from around the world both in the city and in my dorm/University travel group.

I found the photo below on google images, and I think it best describes my trip so far. It’s strange and completely unfamiliar, but at the same time it’s a beautiful concoction of exotic food, culture and character. Just look at that bear. He’s got it.

 

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