Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Chris Wilner, Wallingford, CT

As defined in class, rites of reincorporation involves a person being newly reborn, they return to their community with a “new status”, there are new expectations for behavior and there is a transformation for the individual and the community. Coming home and becoming part of my home community I can say has not been easy on myself. The largest change that I have seen since coming home, and this may be just for me and no one else, is the fact that I feel like my family has become complacent. I feel as though now that I am home I am expected to do so much more because as everyone says, “You have been gone for so long, so it is your turn to take care of this…” What gets me is that I had responsibilities to take care of while I was away and everyone had their responsibilities to take care of while I was away and somehow they all managed to progress in life while I was gone, but now that I am home no one can function without involving me or making me do it because they are just too busy or I think the better answer is that they don’t want to do it so I am stuck doing it.

I could easily say that I am a liminal being. I have gone to a new land and found a new way of doing things for myself and now that I have come home, I have to be mindful of everyone else that I live with and adhere to the rule and regulations that are set forth. I am used to doing things on my own time and the way that I want them done and now that I am home I have to get used to everyone else’s ways of life as well as the new aspects of life they have gained while I was away.

The letter of reincorporation went similar to the way that the letter of separation went for me. It seemed like more of a class activity and was only something to listen to because it had to be listened to. I decided to share this letter with my girlfriend because the was the person that I feel as though I have been apart from the most and she was the person that I wanted to share everything about my trip with. I think it was important to share this with her because she was so worried about what would happen with us while I was gone and I think this opportunity allowed us to talk openly and without any interruption about the things that we did and what it means for me to be home and the things that I will have to get used to since being away. Something that was important that we talked about was the fact that it is important to be patient and understanding of the changes that may have occurred while I was away as well as the routines and ways of life that I got used to while I was away and that it would take time for me to get back into the swing of things.

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” I chose this quote because I think it is important for both sides to realize that a transition occurred and whether it was good or bad, it is important to realize that a change occurred and without recognizing that change no progress would be made. Coming home has not really changed anything, everyone was excited to see me, but I don’t think many people understand the things that you do while abroad except for the people that have studied abroad. Now that I am home it seems like I haven’t even been gone, everyone just expects me to do more because I have missed out on so much. I feel like now that I am home, I am still being treated like a child and that I need to be told what to do on a daily basis because I guess that’s what makes my family feel better about me being away. At this point in time I wouldn’t mind returning to the life that I had in London, except I would rather that my girlfriend came with me. It has been hard this first week being home because I have these inner battles in my head whether or not to say what is on my mind because I am afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings or starting a fight.

From the chapter reading, one way that I think that I would be able to carry forward the “gems” I have collected on my Education Abroad experience is to rediscover “place” in my local community, while I was abroad, it seemed like everywhere I went was a new experience even if I had been there before I think there was always something new that I could learn even from just watching people in Trafalgar Square. I know my hometown because I have grown up here and spent so much time in its streets but I feel like I learned so much more about London in my short time there and know more about the place than I do about the place where I take up residence. My goal is to rediscover and continue discovering the place that I call home and to expound upon the traveling that I have done. This experience has created a thirst for knowledge, I did not go to many places while I was abroad but I went everywhere in London and learned the streets as if they were my own and in fact they did become my own by the time I left.

I can’t honestly say that there are any streams that I need to divert in order to carry forward. I catch myself saying terms and phrases that I learned while I was in London and then I realize those aren’t things that are really said here or people wouldn’t really understand what I am saying so it is more of a conscious decision not to use those phrases or words more than something that I need to get rid of. I say cheers instead of thank you sometimes and call French fries chips, but those are only small things. There more of a think that I do to annoy my girlfriend because she says in back in the states so I have to use the right terms but I can still get away with saying them in some contexts.

As Smilback said on page 205, “Your hometown hasn’t moved, and your network of family and friends is still intact – but both feel different, almost like a foreign land.” At this moment in time, I can honestly say that that is how I am feeling; more so for my family than my friends because I talked to my girlfriend every single day but I feel different being home. My room feels huge compared to my dorm, I’m not used to there being food in the house all the time and not having to cook my own meals is very different to me. I am not sure if I like being able to come home and do nothing and have nothing to worry about or go to the store to buy my groceries and make sure that I bought vegetables or if I have enough toilet paper. Right now there are a lot of uncertainties for me but I am trying to take everything in stride.

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Travel Log 13 – “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” – by Ryan Flagg, Tokyo, Japan

 

I agree with most of what Blumenkrantz and Goldstein have to say in their article. “The ages at which youth receive certain adult privileges (e.g., right to drive, right to vote, right to drink, etc.) are rather arbitrary and are not related to any actual competencies or maturity on the part of the individuals who gain those privileges.” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein. 43). While these life milestones they talk about represent cultural privileges, they don’t necessarily reflect the maturity of the individual. Donald Trump is a 70-year-old man. I know children under the age of 10 who are more respectful and mature than that clown. For a lot of people, and myself included, being a college freshman is a transformative experience, or as the authors describe, a rite of passage. It’s not something like having your first legal drink at a bar, it’s often the first signal for adulthood and the first time many are told by others and internally to “get your *expletive* together.” The rite of passage signals both the opportunity and experience one goes through when physically and mentally separating themselves from what they’re normally used to. This is why study abroad for a lot of people is such an important, transformative part of life because it allows the traveler or individual to step out of their comfort zone to get a better grip of the realities of the world and to become part of the global community. There’s a value to all this, which is what the authors (their names are too huge to write eight times so I will stand my ground and refer to them as “the authors.”) are really trying to get at here. The experience of a rite of passage and transitional periods of life depend person-to-person, culture-to-culture. Is it a problem if this is all absent in American culture or an American’s life? Maybe, again, it depends on someone’s own growth as an individual. Above all else, his or her experiences carry weight and are a healthy, natural step for a person to mature and evolve in the realities of our world.

I think my digital story might be different than a lot of others. Coming from a filmmaking standpoint, I’m going to be using the footage I’ve gathered thus far and used in some of my other videos (these can be found on Facebook, feel free to add me and take a look), and create more of a cinematic experience for those who want to learn more about Japan. The three rites of passage I think I’ll focus on are “silence,” in that having an inner dialogue with oneself while traveling fosters an interesting way of understanding one’s surroundings and culture, “connection with nature” and “community values and ethics.” I have yet to find an “essence,” if you will, to my digital story, but after watching some of the examples, like Michael Colson’s, I can start to get an idea. His essence when studying in Switzerland was definitely that of separating from his home community in Connecticut, to searching for the idea of community itself in another country. The global community in his interpretation changed over the course of his visit, along with a change in him through his experiences and social relationships with friends and locals. As a filmmaker, I think all the story examples could use less Ken Burns and more video, but that’s just my thought and production mindset. I liked how Michael dated his experiences and photos throughout the story, with each being relevant to his overall growth. The Lord of The Rings music was a huge plus for me as well.

 

Travel Log 12 – “Service” – by Ryan Flagg, Tokyo, Japan

For this assignment, I took the train one day from my school in Yotsuya to a small street in Akihabara. There I met Satomi Degami, Volunteer Coordinator for the non-profit organization Second Harvest. Second Harvest is ultimately a food safety net. They provide safe and nutritious food in order to help those in need in the event of both national and personal emergency. I was able to talk briefly with Satomi, but because the week I visited was midterms and she was busy doing work, I was provided a helpful booklet that covered the group’s mission statement and information on what they do to help serve the community in Tokyo. Second Harvest’s goal is make sure everyone has enough food. Their tagline, “Food for all people,” makes this point clear. They believe that working with the community, volunteers and food donors such as Walmart Japan, Suntory, and Dole, to name a few, will help to provide individuals and families who lack food security. According to the booklet, in 2015 an estimated 4,022,649 meals were delivered to people across Japan. They hold a Harvest Kitchen every week with a little under 100 volunteers coming out to Ueno Park to help. They also provide groceries through different programs such as a direct pickup, food boxes and their mobile pantry. Second Harvest is probably best known for and chiefly executes their mission through their food bank. “Each month we distribute fresh, frozen, and nonperishable food to 260 welfare agencies, NPO’s, and faith-based groups in Kanto area as well as members of Second Harvest Japan Alliance.” On top of all this, the organization spends time to educate the community by going around to do research and perform public speaking sessions.

I think in terms of the way Americans communicate versus how Japanese communicate is very different. In my experience in the US, communication is a lot more laid back, and a lot of people don’t really care how you act in public. Here in Japan, gestures like posture, using your hands in conversation and even the art of silence are all held in high regard. For example, a common thing you’ll see is people putting their hands in front of their faces and bowing. This shows a level of respect and kindness towards others. It’s something you would commonly do if you were to say “arigatou” for example. The main difference I find in being quiet is fascinating to me. You’ll rarely come across someone who’s obnoxiously yelling or wooping all over the place (IE; the masses of Quinnipiac students that leave Toad’s every Saturday). The act of over-talking and talking too much is sometimes seen as disrespectful. Exchanging of business cards and credit cards is certainly a different aspect of culture compared to America. In the US, if you were to hand someone your business card or credit card, you’d do it almost nonchalantly. In Japan, this process is actually a lot more of an involved process between the two parties. You’ll hold the card with both hands, and will transfer the card to someone holding out both of their hands. It sounds complicated, but it’s a lot easier to explain in person. I think I’ve definitely adapted to Japanese communication, and often think that Americans can learn a lot about this way of life. The key, I’ve found personally, to being a successful member of Japanese society, is simply having respect.

While I think doing service projects and helping out the community studying abroad or in another country is important, I don’t think it’s necessary to get a full experience. You can learn about your host culture in a ton of different ways. I think of community service as something similar to a Swiss Army Knife. You go to another country with all of these different tools in which to either help out the community or learn about the community, and doing service things like working at a food bank, for example, is just one tool out of many. I’ll be honest in saying this experience meeting with Satomi and seeing what Second Harvest does didn’t change anything about me personally, but it did make me confirm the idea that in many places in the world among all walks of life, people look out for each other and are always looking to help the fellow human. In terms of oimg_activity05.jpgur definition of a Global Community, it’s totally a unifying thing when people come together to accomplish goals and work toward the greater good for mankind.

“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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(Photos taken from Second Harvest’s website: http://2hj.org/english/)

Travel Log 14 “Global Connections and Rites of Separation By Abby Spooner, Dunedin New Zealand

I have dreaded this day for far too long, the beginning of separation from Dunedin, a place I have begun to call home. Over the past week I have found myself in a rather confusing state. I am excited to return to the familiar environment of my US home, but sad to leave my New Zealand one. As a result I have put off the dreaded rites of separation blog for as long as possible, as if writing down my bitter sweet thoughts would make my dread yet excitement for leaving more real. Sadly it is time to move on to new adventures and a familiar routine, so here it goes- thoughts as I prepare to depart and return:

Sun rising over University of Otago Clocktower as I set out for my reflective walk.

Sun rising over University of Otago Clocktower as I set out for my reflective walk.

Today I began saying goodbye to my city, each time I walk my favorite streets, order from my favorite café, or poke my head into my favorite shops I find myself wondering if this time is the last time I am going to do it. In order to actively participate in my separation I decided to take a walk through Dunedin like I did during Travel Log 4 about getting oriented. Saying goodbye is tough; However, by walking through the city I was able to consider the best and worst parts about separation and how I wanted to conclude my rite of passage. My stroll made me appreciate the wonderful times I have had over the past 5 moths. Dunedin has become my home base, a familiar place to return to following my many adventures across the country. If I return later in life I will look forward to walking these now familiar streets once again. On my walk a quote I had come across about travel came to mind. I couldn’t remember the exact words, so when I got home I looked it up. It is a quote by Miriam Adeney and describes my emotions throughout the week perfectly:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

 

When I think about returning home I am eager, but is home going to be home? As Adeney states, I don’t think I will be fully home again; there will always be a part of me longing for travel. I have caught the travel bug, it has changed me so much so that home can no longer be home in the same way it once was. However, it is this distinct change that quantifies a rite of passage, a new status as a global citizen.

There are multiple examples I could use to explain how I am more aware of my global citizenship than I previously was. However, Slimbach expands on his ideas about the global citizen by arguing that the real journey is finding our true selves through our great dreams. He argues that external exploration leads to internal discovery of our intentions, ideas, and impulses (Slimbah, 53). He states, “the psychological stress associated with cross cultural learning actually carries the power to expose us, heal us, and complete us. Instead of trying to numb the pain, we allow ourselves to feel our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.” The global connections I have made throughout this semester not only developed into a global citizen status but also prompted me to think about my own political and social opinions. I am now an avid believer that conversation can change the world. Simple conversations with the people I meet with all semester created a space where world issues could be discusses in a positive and informative way despite varying views. As a result I agree with Slimbach’s claim that global citizenship also includes a degree of self-development and discovery. My rite of passage this semester can be described by the transition of global citizenship. However, it was much more than that; I learned more about who I am, who I want to be, and my opinions of the world. Although I still dread leaving Dunedin, I also look forward to my return home so that I can introduce my friends and family to the new version of myself.

Travel Log 14 “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by: Stephen Shaor Dunedin, New Zealand

My friends and I at the top of Roy's Peak in Wanaka, NZ

My friends and I at the top of Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, NZ

In his book Becoming World Wise Richard Slimbach discusses the potential that education abroad has in shaping the way we view the world. Specifically he states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within,” (Kindle version location 1080). Based off of my experiences studying abroad, I somewhat agree with his reasoning. Education abroad undoubtedly causes a new way of thinking and acting. Integrating into another culture forces people outside of their social norms and causes significant change in their life. Slimbach states that these changes leave us vulnerable and suggests that we “surrender” to the culture (Kindle version location 1112). Reflecting back to the beginning of my journey I can highly relate to this feeling. There’s a clear feeling of being lost when entering a new place for the first time. Without any knowledge of the area or customs of the culture you have to learn how everything works over time. Slimbach claims that these feelings of vulnerability, deprivation, and aloneness are what influence us to ultimately “surrender” to the host culture.

However I don’t think that this weakness is the sole factor driving global learning. I would argue that this state of weakness is often coupled by feelings of excitement. I see learning abroad like the first day of college. Similar to education abroad, college is a place for study and learning more about yourself. There is a feeling of being lost and alone, but most people are excited for the experience. Most freshmen year college students aren’t driven by the feelings of aloneness, but rather are motivated by their excitement. Slimbach thinks that the feeling of being weak and alone influences people’s self-discovery while abroad, but I think that their openness and enthusiasm is what drives people to learn more about the culture and themselves.

Personally my global connections while abroad have greatly influenced the way I viewed the world. I came into my education abroad with an open mind and as a result it has dramatically impacted my perspective on becoming a “global citizen.” At first I thought being a global citizen was simply being an active participant in worldwide events. However after traveling to multiple countries and living in New Zealand for 5 months, I learned that a global citizen is much more than being an active participant. People need to be active listeners in addition to active participants. First, people need to be active in the global community. They need to be aware of events across the globe and interact with them. Acknowledging situations around the world and not taking action does not create a global citizen. Secondly people must be active listeners as well. Every country has its own beliefs, issues, and dignity, which we can only comprehend and relate to through active listening. Active listening includes learning and appreciating the differences between cultures. In order to understand the world and be a part of the global community it is important to listen, to understand, and to act with people across the globe.

As my time in Dunedin comes to a close I have to say goodbye to my friends I’ve made over the course of the semester. I’m currently planning a final group dinner with my friends. During the dinner we will share photos of our adventures together, swap memorable stories, and reminisce about our favorite moments of our journey. As my time in New Zealand comes to a close, the feeling is bittersweet. I am excited and anxious to go home to see my family, but I also don’t want to leave my new friends. Many of them live across the country and I may not see for years to come. In order to combat this sadness I have been in contact with my friends from home and making plans with them for when I return. I think that my eagerness for home will help me reincorporate back into society. The familiarity of family and friends will make being home enjoyable for the first few days. On the other hand I think that showing everyone pictures and telling them stories will make me miss New Zealand and hold me back from reincorporating immediately. Overall I loved my time in New Zealand, but am looking forward to sharing my experiences with my loved ones from home.

Travel Log 14 “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Chris Wilner, Amsterdam, Netherlands

“If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (Slimbach, 54). Knowledge and education are lifelong events, we will never be done learning new things until the day we die; whether that is something about ourselves or the people around us, that is of little concern, what matters is that we are continually learning. The experience to study abroad is one that a lot of students take for granted. From my understanding and what I have witnessed from the students that I have met through my own journey, most students choose to spend their time traveling to countries that they may not have the opportunity to visit for the rest of their life, but end up spending very little time in the country hosting them. One of the best pieces of advice I received about this trip that I was embarking on when preparing to leave the United States was to make friends with someone from your host country and become best friends with them. I am fortunate enough to say that I was able to make two best friends during my stay in London. My flat mates Johnny and Haden became part of my very existence while abroad, we were like the three amigos and would do almost everything together, especially Johnny and I. As much as I learned from them, I like to think that I was able to teach them a little and it may sound a little funny, but they think I’ve explored more of London in the short amount of time that I have been there than the year that they have been going to school in the city. This may be because they’re both from small towns in the country or because it’s just something that is a part of their lives so they see it as something that they can always do later, but it is something that we like to reflect on.
I spent almost all of my time in London and I can honestly say that it has become home to me, I’ve gotten to know the way of life there and can say that it is going to be a hard transition going home, especially physically living at home again. By living in a city and experiencing life on campus, I feel that I have been able to gain an understanding of the way of life as well as contribute to my global learning. By living away from home, my global learning has allowed for learning within because I found that everything I did was on my own time and it was up to me do do everything. If I was hungry I had to prepare it or go out to eat, I had to clean my own bathroom and make sure that everything was the way that I liked it. I’m different from most students due to the fact that I live at home all year round while I go to school. Most students are fortunate enough to live at school, although most of the students at Quinnipiac come from outside of the state. I think the thing that I learned the most about was, not being afraid to take a risk, talk to the random stranger standing next to, and keep a budget. Since this journey began, I paid for every step of the way and never asked my parents for money because I wanted to know that I could support myself without having to rely on others. That was my learning from the world within. I had faith in myself.
The connections that I have been able to make regarding my growth allow me to grow as a member of the global community because I have an understanding of a world outside for the United States. I was talking about this with a friend who studied abroad a year ago and studying abroad is an experience that makes you realize how small the world is and yet how large it is at the same time. It’s small due to how connected the world is through technology and transportation, but it’s extremely large due to the amount of people that there are in this vast world just through visiting a couple of the cities in Europe. As a member of the global community, this experience has shown me that everyone has a story to tell and they just want want someone to tell it to. I’ve also come to realize that everyone is looking for a better life and they will go to some extremes in attempts to get there if they believe that that is going to help them get there. There are harsh realities that people must face in their lives and it reminds me of something Slimbach said in his book, “Global learning is never completely innocent. It is saturated with difficult power relations, endemic to cultural difference, that can’t be wished away or canceled out by more ‘ethical’ brand of travel” (p. 72). Although we, as study abroad students, think that we can just travel somewhere and hope to find something different, there will always be people in need or going through difficult times wherever we go. In order to carry those connections forward, I need to remember to be mindful of the rest of the world wherever I am. There is so much going on and I think it is everyone’s responsibility to do their part to help preserve the world and the people in it. The best thing to do is to pass along kindness.
I’m fortunate enough to have one more week left in London to spend it with the friends that I have made. Unfortunately I have not be able to do anything for them as of yet because most of them have been away but I know we will celebrate before going home and the best thing about creating friendships is that it gives me an excuse to come back. I have full intention of coming back and seeing my friends again so it isn’t a goodbye because that means it is indefinite it is like saying alvitazen, which translates to until we see again. I have a feeling that we will have a “family” dinner before I leave with the people that have become so close to me through the trials and tribulations of living together and having to struggle with school together as well.
As time draws nearer for my return to the United States, I am saddened and excited at the same time. I can honestly say that I’m not ready to get back to my real life where I have to go back to work, but I’m excited to be able to spend time with my friends, family and girlfriend. I don’t want to leave the friends that I have made here but I know I will see them again, especially Johnny, because he his a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom. The best way to be able to say goodbye to the place that I have called home for the past 5 months is to spend as much time with my mates as I can and visit the places in the city that I have enjoyed the most so they will be engrained in my mind for as long as I can remember. I think reincorporating into the United States won’t be as hard as most people expect it to be just because I feel like I’m going to be so busy when I get home to even be able to think. Although, I have to say, I did go home two weeks ago for a span of 4 days for my girlfriends graduation and with all of the stress and chaos that I experienced while I was home, all I could say to myself and those around me was that I was ready to go back to London because everything was so much simpler. So, the best thing I can say is that it will be a toss up. What I can say with complete certainty is that there are a lot of aspects that I am going to miss about being in London that I will not be able to have when I go home. Things like the ability to walk anywhere I want and be there in a short amount of time instead of having to get in the car and to go everywhere. I will miss the convenience of the tube and not having to worry if I will be on time for things, and the biggest thing of them all is the fact that I will miss living on my own. I am not sure if I will be able to go and live under someone else’s roof again, but that is to be determined.
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take” I think this quote perfectly sums up my thoughts and feelings on the wonderful and extraordinary experience that I get to call my life at this moment in time. I knew from the time that I started my orientation at Quinnipiac that I natured to study abroad and see what the world had to offer and I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. There is nothing that I regret about this experience and I believe that because of this trip I am a more responsible person and I now know that I can take care of myself without needing the assistance of anybody else. This quote is so meaningful to me because I never want to be the person that lives a life full of regrets, I want to live life to its fullest every second of my life even if that means sitting in a busy square in a city and watching the lives of the people as well as watching the world go by. Never forget the little things because in the end they may be the things that matter the most.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” By: Erin Foley, Dedham, MA

After what seemed like an eternity on an airplane and waiting for luggage that I thought would never come, my homecoming had finally arrived. When I awoke last Wednesday, I was honestly nervous to return home. Had a lot changed since I left? Would I be able to easily reconnect with family and friends? Would they be annoyed after the fifth time I mentioned Paris (I have many stories to tell!)? But as I walked out of the double doors at the boarder patrol station and saw my family waving teary-eyed with huge smiles on their faces, all of my concerns vanished.

That is not to say, however, that I have not come across specific challenges. Many of my friends say, “Tell me Paris stories!” or “I want to hear all about it!” But each time, I cannot seem to express my gratitude for the experience that made me contemplate my entire future—quite a big deal for anyone who knows me (I always have everything planned to a tee). How do you sum up four months into four sentences? In my opinion, it is impossible and utterly inadequate to briefly describe the trip of a lifetime that made me seriously reflect on my true passions for the first time in awhile. As I may have mentioned in previous logs, I feel as though I have not yet left the liminal phase. Instead, I am in a limbo of indecisiveness; what do I do next? Who do I seek out to help me through this life transition? What will ultimately be the right career choice for me, moving forward?

After writing my reincorporation letter, I was satisfied with its message. Sometimes, I feel like writing down your ideas expresses them more thoroughly than simply stating them. When written on paper, words are permanent and difficult to disregard. Although someone may refuse to address them, your ideas are well thought out and subject to change; you can always return to a paper or a journal entry to edit but words are much harder to take back once they are said. In the same token, I wanted to write a letter that explained the difficult reincorporation I would face, without seemingly placing the blame on my family. Parents want to do everything in their power to help their children through a tough situation but I unfortunately have to brave this one alone. I asked for their utmost patience and that it would be a two-way street: I would be patient with my newly unfamiliar communitas and that they would provide patience with frustrations that I may encounter. After reading, my mother thought it was simply stated and well written and she agreed to try to be as patient as possible.

Obviously the study abroad experience does not simply end after your return home. Think about it: you underwent a transformation and whether you like it or not, those memories will stay with you for the rest of your life. That being said, I want to take the time to discuss how I will carry forward all that I have learned. I touched upon it briefly before, but studying abroad taught me to be independent, relying upon my own knowledge to find solutions to problems. Heading back to campus, I hope to employ the same mindset throughout the semester. If there are any issues with scheduling or coursework, the first thing I do is immediately email the professor. Perhaps before that step, I can do my own research and solve the problem myself, without relying so heavily on my wonderful advisor (who I am sure is sick of our incessant email correspondence).

Although study abroad is an all-together positive experience, it can sometimes highlight our biggest faults. I personally need to work on being more independent, using my advisor as a resource as opposed to a crutch, but also learning to be patient. I have already found myself reflecting upon my impatience in the most random of places—driving (once a familiar habit), grocery shopping and simply occupying my time. Studying abroad has a feeling of instant gratification—everything you could ever want is in one place. If I were bored, I would venture out into the streets to discover a new little corner of Paris. Now, I have returned to a town where I have lived for twenty years, with little left to discover…or is there? By being patient, I can allow everyday life, although sometimes boring and grueling, to occasionally surprise me. After all, Miriam Beard said, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

 

 

 

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By: Erin Foley, Barcelona, Spain

With only one month remaining in the semester, my “communitas” has adapted a new meaning. Although originally used in reference to members of my immediate host culture, I have made remarkable connections with some students in my program. Spending four months traveling and studying with the same students encourages a strong bond in which we mutually learn through one another’s experiences, positive or otherwise. Communitas, according to Rite of Passage Theory, is the population that strives to improve as a direct result of the traveller’s personal growth upon return. They will bring with them the fruits of their experience to nourish a mutualistic rapport. More often than not, study abroad students return with empty memories; they may have pictures with all major landmarks, but they did not dig deep and discover a new facet of their character that could be beneficial to the communitas.

As I have made clear in my previous travel logs, my language acquisition has improved immensely. Without the weekly dinners with my host mother or culture workshops with my program, I do not believe I would have successfully adapted to the French culture. Not only does that include proficiently speaking the language, but also familiarizing myself with the food, art, music and history that encompasses all that is France. This way, I am interacting with the global community and making more meaningful connections than a tourist simply passing through for the sake of traveling.

I have already addressed one element of rites of passage (program success relies on relationships). Without the cohesive relationships amongst study abroad staff and students, it would be quite difficult to establish a “strategy [that] can be implemented with sufficient commitment and creativity to make it a success,” as stated by authors Blumenkratz and Goldstein. One of the deepest connections you can form with someone, in my opinion, is one connected with travel. In essence, these are the only people that are experiencing the exact same thing as you. No one, apart from the members of your program, is experiencing the same destination during the same semester in its current political or social climates. For instance, only my fellow classmates and I will experience Paris after the November tragedies. For my digital story, I could potentially focus on the relationship that I have formed with my three closest friends in Paris and how they helped me through the transitional period of liminality.

Time alone for reflection is another essential aspect of study abroad. Sometimes we become lost in translation, literally and figuratively. As humans, we need time to process all of this information. We may find ourselves blindly following our peers’ interests, instead of pursuing our own. While it is great to broaden your horizon and visit a museum with your friend who loves art, maybe you could also reserve time to read a book at your favorite reading spot. I try to go to a location once a week by myself. I think solitary reflection is necessary for overcoming liminality; how can you become a new version of yourself when the opinions of others are affecting your experiences? Because my favorite reading spot is the Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps I could center my digital story around my independence and newfound freedom to venture out on my own which is something that I would never do at home.

Lastly, and arguably most important, is the idea of giving away one’s previous attitudes, behaviors, etc. One cannot expect to be fully immersed within a culture without abandoning their preconceived notions and old habits that may plague the voyager as they embark on new adventures. Allowing myself to relinquish American stereotypes of the French cleared a pathway to traditionally learn about the culture instead of blindly assuming all I have ever heard was true. Perhaps I could focus on my relationship with my host mother and how she either defies or supports typical stereotypes and how that has affected my experience overall.

After reading both digital story drafts, I felt I connected more with the first student’s. The writer beautifully described the process of familiarizing oneself with the host country through a specific location, which is similar to my favorite niche in France. The Luxembourg Gardens has allowed me to break out of my shell and independently explore the city.

Travelogue 10- Encountering Globalization – Mitchell Trulli Barcelona, Spain

Globalization is the formal interaction of people, from all over the world entangling themselves together. As I am studying and have always been interested in business I look at it through that perspective. The Travels of a T-shirt was very interesting because it dove into lots of specific details as to how the business of the “globalization” or a T-shirt around the world happens. America has had a history of dominating foreign business markets and influencing the world because its past as a superpower. In Barcelona I have seen American influence in almost every street corner. My parents visited Barcelona for the second time (20 years later) with me and they were astounded walking through the streets as they were not dominated by American businesses. Local shops were being taken over by Nike, Adidas, Mcdonald’s, and other large corporations. I see this globalization as great progress in business but also terrible for culture. Globalization business wise destroys authenticity and the unique culture that local shops and businesses add to a community. In the neighborhood that I live in in Barcelona called Gracia there is a big stigma against globalization and especially tourism which could be considered a form of globalization. There are occasionally signs hung up around the balconies which say “Ban the American District” or the Ramblas which is considered the most globalized place of Barcelona, 8/10 people on the Ramblas are tourists. There is a big stigma against tourists and the squatters house we live next to has big skull and cross bone stickers that say ban tourists all over the windows. I believe that being in a big and historic city in Europe comes with its pro’s and con’s and accepting that humans will evolve and popular culture will travel and take over most of the old culture is part of evolution. If we decided to keep every ounce of history and culture in the world there would be no progress, business rules the world and the bigger companies that appear come and swallow up the smaller companies. One additional example of Spain trying to prevent globalization is the banning of Uber. As technology advances and an American startup Uber looks to revolutionize transportation to minimize the number of cars on the road and employ more people easier many countries try to prevent this progress. Spain for one has banned the App in their country and refused to join the global evolution of ride sharing, this fear of becoming globalized prevents countries from progressing. In the near future there will be self driving cars and people will rarely own cars, shared vehicles will be the norm and traffic will be almost non-existent, but if a country deters this progress they will be left behind. When I traveled to France I was able to call an Uber and had an incredible conversation with a driver about his life and what he does and Uber in the US, this reminds me of what Robins said in his story. “dissolve the frontiers and divisions between different cultures” (Robins 242) I was able to take this globalized company and use it to meet someone new and as a talking point to learn more about his life. There are negatives to this business globalization, as one country dominates markets there is a monopoly which is bad for business “During the 200 years in which the United States has dominated this industry, sometimes it was possible to win on the high road and sometimes it wasn’t” (Page 6). The story ends with the T-shirts that were made all around the world being given to a entrepreneur in Africa who sold them to kids across his country. The T-shirt has supplied clothing, and jobs for people but also eliminated culture and spread America’s pop culture across the world, although I believe there is more positive than negative with globalization it will be hard to adjust to.

The picture below shows the incredible amount of American McDonalds that are across the world. McDonalds may stand as Americas flagship restaurant and is the second biggest chain in the world providing millions of Jobs but replacing authentic cultured food of many countries. macdonalds-worldwide

Travelogue 11 – Half the Sky Mitchell Trulli – Barcelona Spain

Half the Sky is an eye opening documentary into the struggles of women across the world in different cultures. It allows you to get a glimpse into the life that lots of women live in, being born in the US most women are treated with equal respect as a man. I myself was incredibly surprised by the stories outlined during the movie.

The story that shocked me most was of a little girl who was raped by the town’s preacher in Africa. In this particular part there are thousands of rape cases a year and the center that they were interviewing has only had 1 successful prosecution. There is a big stigma against coming out about being raped, this young girl had the courage to do so and decided to press charges for being raped. As the story continues the family eventually catches the man and starts to press charges but suddenly the family is shunned by the community and the father of the household kicks the mother and daughter out of the house for embarrassing them. The daughter is considered tainted and is seen as a stain on the family name and now is forced to live on her own and survive because she spoke out about an atrocity that was committed against her. This struck me as I do not see how a parent who is supposed to have unconditional love for their child can kick them out at such a young age age after such a terrifying incident. The girl in the story was utterly shocked but seemed to keep her head up as she is a very strong girl. Eva Mendez seemed particularly distressed about this situation and she was most taken back when she asked the girl if she thought she was to blame and she hesitated because she thinks she could have stopped it from happening.

There was a woman who opened a “shelter” of sorts for women who had suffered from rape and also helped them prosecute their perpetrators. She was an extremely strong and courageous woman who has helped hundreds of people get through being raped. My area of study is business finance and entrepreneurship. One big thing that someone in my field or myself could do to help people in these situations is aid the “helpers”, micro loans are becoming extremely popular to help people get their small business or non-profits started in these third world countries. Helping people set up shelters and financing these local saviors would be an incredible experience that would help hundreds of young women in need. There are already dozens of websites that allow you to make micro loans to people in third world countries, sometimes all that is needed is $50 for a plow to kickstart a farm which will then support an entire community who will pay you back over the year with the earnings they generate from it. Such a small amount of money to someone in the US can change the life of someone in a third world country, we underestimate the power that we have to easily influence and help thousands of peoples lives across the world.

One of my high school friends and startup business partners David K has launched a startup non-profit called Skate4Africa which helps donate skateboards to kids in Africa to keep them occupied and out of illegal things. www.skate4africa.com
This is a perfect example of how someone my age and in business can have an impact on peoples life halfway across the world. Although it is not helping women of violence it is a good example and inspiration for anyone who is looking for ways to help people.