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.

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