Global learning is about immersing ourself into the world that surrounds us, and becoming a component of the global community by contributing our knowledge, customs, and aid to the world and the people: our equal components. Slimbach stated, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54). If we do not consider ourselves apart of the global community and still look at our counterparts and the countries and people that live in different parts of the world in a disparate way than we look at ourselves, then we have not successfully informed ourselves about global learning. Global learning is so important as learning to view others as equal personas leads to a different view towards the world as dissimilarities in race, culture, territory, and language stop being so consequential and instead make each person unique just like each of our friends is to us who may be the same race, maintain the same belief system, territory and language as ourself. It opens your eyes to how interesting the world really is. It is interesting to ponder how one may think that looking at something that is very disparate from yourself may draw one in the hopes to learn more about it due to its differences. However through global learning, I have found that when you find mutual similarities, which you can find everywhere in the world as we are all human beings living in different conditions, it makes you want to learn more because you can identify with what your experiencing. On account of this, I have not only been able to further learn and identify myself with the world around me, however I have also been able to identify with myself more and acquire knowledge that I would not have otherwise through travel due to discovery and hardships, which are both critical components of life.
When I first came to Florence, I felt like the odd one out, that they could tell I was from America (of which they always could up until the end, even when I wasn’t wearing flip flops!) and like that was a bad thing. That was confusing for me at first, almost feeling inadequate based on where I came from, a place that I am so proud to be from! However, by the end, I felt like an equal to all of the Florentines, Italians, Europeans, Americans, and people from all around the world that came to visit Florence each day. No one should ever feel bad for where we come from, how we look, what we believe in, what we have grown up learning because if we weren’t different and all looked the same, and grew up with the same customs, the world would be a pretty boring place wouldn’t it? Travel would not be travel because there would be no need and a huge sense of discovery would be unfeasible. On account of this, we should all be proud that our differences permit this beautiful sense of discovery and each place we travel to we should be excited to teach others that may not have the means to visit where we grew up, and learn more from those that we meet on our travels to bring that knowledge home with us to grow from that and instill that knowledge into the culture and people that primarily surround us. Slimbach also touched upon the importance of viewing travel as more than something were doing for ourselves, but others as well, when he stated, “If we view the world as signifying nothing and going nowhere, a place where we simply exert ourselves to secure personal advantage, study abroad will only serve to decorate our resume or satisfy our wanderlust” (42). I will carry my connections forward by having an initiative to travel more, starting with my own country that I have found that I have disregarded up until now. I want to travel to places that I may not see initial beauty in because each place can and will surprise you, I want to travel to places that are environmentally stunning, and I want to travel to places that the people will surprise and intrigue me.
Each trip, I have people from home telling me that they are living vicariously through me. However I want my experience to urge others to learn more about the global community as living vicariously, is not really living is it? Prior to departure, I am making sure each day is about exploring and learning more through others, my eyes, and my tastebuds. I have made sure to go on group dinners these last two weeks with the new friends I have made in Florence and with friends that I came with a connection, but will leave with a stronger one. However, most importantly for myself was actually teaching myself to be okay with going to a sit down restaurant for lunch or dinner by myself which I had previously never had the strength to do. I made sure to go to places that even if no one else felt the desire to go to, I still did and that was the best decision I have made the entire trip: to be more independent for ‘myself’. It was amazing to find how such a simple task such as going to dinner by yourself can be so empowering as it is really allowing me to separate myself from the culture that I will soon be leaving. As departure approaches, I am both sad and excited, like many. I have gone through many periods of desperately wanting to go home to in the comfort of seeing my friends and family as traveling and living in another country can take a lot our of you emotionally. However my last three weeks have been truly unforgettable. The weather has been beautiful, I have explored my city further by not traveling the last two weekends, tried endless amounts of new restaurants, branched out with more friends, and lastly, became more independent. Im glad I finally pushed myself to do all of that. Although I had a lot of ups-and-downs throughout my experience abroad, I wouldn’t change my experience in order to take out all of the struggles that I experienced as I truly believe that every obstacle in life is there for a reason and will make you a stronger person.
I will leave Florence a better, more well-rounded person and I cannot thank Florence, the world, my friends, or even the hard work that I have put in for myself more. I feel as though coming back to the states will not feel entirely different to me as I feel people will view me as a more independent and mature person however the experiences I have undergone and the places and people that I have seen have shaped me in way that I may not be able to explain to others without them undergoing a similar experience. This is alright with me as although I know I have grown, and my parents and the people close to me do, I am still the same person who enjoys the same things, just with a bit of an extra drive to understand people and the world around me. Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch said, “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire”. I can resonate with Foch’s words as I feel as though voices are made from people with drive and drive comes from seeing the world and the unique people that one encounters during their travel. If there is one thing I know I won’t do, is stay put and not share my thoughts towards what the world has to offer us.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning.” Stylus. Sterling, Virginia. 2010.