In America, we are so rich with other cultures that it is hard to identify with just one. I think that is why we do not have many meaningful rituals that properly represent our transition into adult life. I am pretty sure not many of us think about it because we just go on living our everyday life until we reach our milestone, which for most people is 21. Before this we just see a new age as getting to do different things in life. Every four years or so you take a rite of passage by graduating elementary school, middle school, high school and for some people college. Moreover, around 15,16 you begin to drive, 18 you can now vote or buy lottery tickets. When it comes to turning 21, this is where every American really feels that they can conquer the world. They can do most things almost everything except rent a car. I first came to the realization of this during studying abroad. In Spain, it is common to celebrate even the simplest things, a person might not receive a huge party, but they will be given something small. Blumenkrantz and Goldstein wrote, “Creating opportunities for silence and to spend time alone…help a young person develop an internal dialogue for narrating and making sense of what is going on around them.” I feel that I connected with this quote so much because studying abroad created an opportunity to get away from the noise of America and really reflect on my surroundings. I noticed so much about the way people lived in Spain, and how different it was from my life in America. Blumenkrantz said that this can help up see where we fit into this big, crazy world. I realized I fit in to Spain’s fashion world easily, but not the world of their customs. Being a New Yorker I am so used to being on the go and wondering what is next, taking food to go and hopping on the next train. Whereas Spaniards take their time in everything that they do, dinner is easily a three hour process, and “para llevar” is not a thing at all.
I love the fact that American culture is so infused with other cultures, but I think we should do more things to celebrate life, rather than celebrating someone 21st birthday as a big, “Hey you made it, you’re legal!” It is important for people to know that they contribute to our national community and they took one more step to joining the mature adult community. I have not gone through many rites of passage because I am not yet 21, so therefore I am not an adult in the American society. I think so far that my study abroad process has been my biggest rite of passage so far, because it has opened my eyes to adulthood since being a legal adult in Spain comes at the age of 18.
As I read the article written by Blumenkrantz, I really started to ponder upon how I wanted to portray my digital story to the class. My life abroad was one of the happiest times of my life so as I read through the 20 elements I wanted to chose three that would really portray my happiness. My first element I chose was number four: “You can only bring someone as far as you have been yourself.” In Barcelona I always took the initiative of doing something after class or experiencing a new food because I know some weekends I would be out of the country traveling. Between doing the both of these I feel that I have came so far, because I traveled to so many different countries while still immersing in the culture Barcelona had for me.
Another element I liked from this was number twelve: time for reflection. I think that these journals were a perfect time for reflection because it gave my study abroad more of a purpose. The readings were perfect because It taught me how to live through my experience rather than just exist in Barcelona as an Erasmus student. Also my course load this semester was very easier from what I am used to so at Quinnipiac so that gave me more time to think about my experience and my emotional state while being abroad. My third element of my digital story would be play. The element of play has broadened my horizons while studying abroad. I was able to make friends with locals, and branch out from my typical friend group and hangout with people from my classes of different cultures. Playing is where my happiness abroad really changed my perspective and caused me to never be homesick.
Rachel’s video of Paris was very beautiful. She described her journey very organized from the start to finish. I loved her interaction with her neighbor who barely spoke English and how it caused her to adapt a bit more. I think my video may take a different direction than hers in terms of music and experience, which is where you will see the element of play.