“What most of us need is not more money but more meaningful relationships” (Slimbach 53). As my time abroad draws to a close, I don’t think I could find a greater relation to a quote than this one. My bank accounts have all depleted a hefty amount since January, but the experiences and people Ive met as a result can barely even being to compare. It’s almost ironic, since I live in resort-like, expensive getaway place of the world, but the people here seem to have such a fonder viewpoint on relationships rather than materials. Appreciation is something that they all hold very highly, perhaps in reaction to the many issues being faced around the world today.
I agree heavily with Slimbach’s quote “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54). There is a very big difference between entering a new realm geographically and emotionally/mentally. Coming into a world where things, people and stories are different, throws any individual off balance. Without a sense of security and a comfort blanket it is often times hard to push yourself outside your own limitations. But if we allow, we’re exposed to a whole greater world than we could’ve ever imagined; a world we never knew about ourselves or about our peers, helping us grow as individuals and a community. He writes “The sudden vulnerability we experience as we arrive in an unknown place stripped of familiar surroundings, peoples, and routines renders us acutely aware of who we are, or at least who we’re not” (54). A large part of my thought process was focused through the lens that this was a break from my real world daily activities I’ve been so accustomed to for 19 years to how can I expand my stories and experiences. Slimbach mentions that stories are all we have to go off of; they’re what we learn from and how we grow. After being here for four months I’ve changed my lens to realize that my way of becoming a more active global citizen was to discover more about myself, who I am and who I am not, what I enjoy and what I do not, the people I want to surround myself with and the people I do not. At first I was nervous, that this wasn’t the right way to approach becoming a global citizen—whatever that even meant at the time! However, I’ve discovered that becoming a global citizen does not mean you necessarily are involved in every extra circular in your community rather it’s the way you carry yourself. I’ve come to understand with my knowledge and stories acquired that being a global citizen means being firm in your roots and beliefs and respecting others for whom they are and their beliefs.
Slimbach also touches upon the concept that our world these days is so corrupt and if we continue on this pattern, generations to come have to reap what we’ve sewn. This is where being a global citizen comes into play; to adjust, appreciate and help our communities and the causes we care about. Granted not everyone has the same passion for everything but in the simple things such as caring more about people than money, more about the environment than profit, more about health than the health care system, we can look to change the path we’re on and move to a better future for ourselves and future generations.
Future; another topic me and my new friends heavily discuss. We often talk about what we’re going to do when we get home, how strange it is going to be, and how our daily lives will soon return. This calls to attention the fact that half of these new friends I would’ve never dreamt of having four months ago. Nonetheless, we are already planning trips to visit and of course to stay in touch. It’s actually comical since we all don’t have each others phone numbers we rely heavily on Facebook Messeneger, making our return home communication situation quite interesting. Upcoming this week, we have a farewell dinner planned, where I hope we will share old memories from the first weeks when we were all but mere strangers to one another.
This definitely gives me some feelings of anxiety and excitement to return home. I know that I will be able to have a little bit of France back in the states, even if the person is a plan ride away. But I’m also excited to see my family and old friends, catch up, join back in on the activities. Yet I’m anxious to see if I can adapt so easily. Coming to France I didn’t have many expectations, making it easier to not have culture shock when I arrived but when I go home, I know exactly what I am coming home to making it a little different to change the paces and styles of my life again. Because of these sentiments though I’m attempting to take things slow, not to rush back into life and to still incorporate elements of my daily routine abroad in France into my daily routine in America. Trying to keep things close to me I think will help me minimize the culture shock upon my return home and in my rites of passage process.
“And it is sad how people come and go. It is almost too beautiful to bear, the way people gently come into our lives to leave just as softly. But that’s life right? We make memories with other people to remember them once they’re gone. We exchange experiences and expect to learn something valuable in-between. The same way we have to learn to let go and the same way we have to learn how to embrace change as it comes. And that’s what makes this life beautiful, for it is the coming and the going what makes us who we are.” As I get ready to pack up all my belongings, I am grateful for the people I’ve met but upset to leave. This quote parallels the ocean to me, since the waves come and go all the time; Just like life, we come and go, experiencing things along the way and eventually we have to leave. What’s comforting about this is that we’re molded by these stories and experiences, embracing change and preparing for our next adventure.