Growing up, I used to occasionally accompany my mom to work on my days off from school. While she was teaching, I would stand in the hallway of the education building at Stonehill College, admiring the pictures of the students who had studied abroad the previous semester. My friends and family always encouraged global education—saying it was an opportunity one must take advantage of in college. I certainly had my doubts once I started school—how will I manage to take a whole semester off from science courses and still complete my coursework in four years? How could I travel to the other side of the world, where I knew no one and nothing about the country? One of my favorite quotes rang in the back of my head as I signed the next semester of my life away to Bond University in Australia: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”― William G.T. Shedd. With this in mind, I am embarking on a four-month journey to Gold Coast, Australia with the hopes that the seas I travel through will provide an unparalleled learning experience.
I chose Australia because I grew up around the water—swimming, sailing and exploring the beach—and cannot imagine studying abroad in any other environment than the one I love most. I am excited to see the unique wildlife and immerse myself in the culture. Australia is not a weekend destination, as the travel time is nearly a day and the destinations are endless. Thus, what better time to explore the land down under than to spend a whole semester?
The traditional Rites of Passage Theory is one that applies well to the study abroad experience. I foresee myself viewing my semester differently with the knowledge that I will spend four months as a liminoid. The openness and curiosity that comes with this awareness will allow me to further appreciate this learning experience, ensuring that I am able to fully and consciously separate and reincorporate. Engaging in a Rite of Passage while learning more about the theory will enhance my understanding and appreciation for the concept, hopefully changing the way I view experiences like this for the rest of my life. As Mark Jenkins once said: “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the away it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” So as I work to make my science-inclined brain see things in a more shades of color, I hope that this study abroad experience will help to open my own views to the world where there is not right or wrong answer to everything, but instead many different and qualified responses.