In Chapter Two “The Story We Need” Slimbach talks about why individuals choose to study abroad. It is often in a time of intense self exploration and leaving home only intensifies self exploration. He also talks about misadventure abroad of students abroad and how this often discourages others from studying abroad. I agree that there are some who do have misadventures abroad and it is usually because of a lack of social and cultural consciousness but Quinnipiac’s education abroad department prepared all their students for the expected and unexpected of studying abroad.
Moreover, study abroad forces us to change our consciousness. Since being in France, I have become aware of more things, I notice how many homeless sit on the street, if they are with or without children and dogs. I notice people on the metro and on the streets. I notice people in the supermarket and by fruit stands. And my social and security awareness is heightened, I’m not sure if it is because I was in a new environment paired with the security concerns in Europe. But I have also become more conscious of my actions: what I say and do. As Slimbach admits, study abroad is a time for self reflection, and that is exactly what I have done. I’ve looked internally at how I act towards others and how it may be received. I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on this because in France they act differently than they do in the United States and I act differently when I am in Jamaica.
Again, it goes back to what we’ve learnt about the rites of passage. Adaptation is key. I’ve learnt to keep an open mind, by adapting to the situations and environments around me. By acknowledging that with each country comes different learnt behaviours one takes steps in integrating into a new environment and successfully undergoing the rites of passage. In one of our workshops we watched where a Native American girl was going through a ritual of becoming a woman, it was an exhausting and extensive process that required much preparation. But she acknowledged that in fact, she had to lend herself to adaptation. She had to allow herself to leave some of her learnt behaviors, biases and personal reservations behind in order to emerge. Just as she had to leave those things behind, so do study abroad students and so did I. I had to acknowledge that because of where I came from I was coming into my study abroad experience looking at life through a certain lens. And now that my time is coming to a close, I am realizing now how my horizon has broadened and changed.
Slimbach says “if we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54) By studying abroad and gaining insight from those who have lived in Paris their entire lives, I have been driven to look within myself and reflect on my own values. In this way, Parisians act as mentors as they help to guide me through my rite of passage. “This does not mean foreign guests and local hosts…swap places.” (Slimbach 54) Though I will never see eye to eye with Parisians they still hold a special place in my heart, by allowing me to be a part of their culture and realize the qualities a global citizen should have. A global citizen should be open minded, not afraid to take risks, willing to engage the other person, and have the ability to self reflect and see what could make them a better person. I will miss Paris, and as a proper farewell, the friends that I have made abroad and I will be having a picnic on a bridge over the Seine, and looking ‘memory locks’ on our favorite bridge. Hopefully my goodbye will do my time abroad justice as it has allowed me to grow greatly as a person.