Travel Log 1: “Laying a Foundation” by Rachel Marino. Cranston, Rhode Island

 

I have been ecstatic about studying abroad since I was a little girl and after going through the lengthy application process and filling out countless forms the time is almost here for me to leave.  I have felt fearless about going abroad for four months but now the time for me to pack up as much as I can fit into a suitcase and backpack and leave everyone and everything I know is creeping up on me and the fearlessness I once bragged about has run and taken cover.

During the workshops back in April I remember comparing the moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy enters a colored world to studying abroad.  I imagined stepping off the plane and experiencing this same exact feeling of adding something essential to my life, something so new I never knew it was missing but once I had it I couldn’t live without it.  I have since then started to resonate much more with another concept we talked about in reference to the separation phase- taking a leap of faith.

My friends and family keep telling me to be careful when I go abroad, especially because of many of the news headlines lately.  My response to this always is “It happens everywhere, Europe is no different,” but that’s not true.  There are many ways to be smart in Europe but I’m going there to gain experience and I won’t gain experience sitting in an apartment.  I am wondering how to find the balance between making safe choices and taking risks to enhance my journey.

In the introduction of Becoming World Wise Slimback discusses how the world is becoming more uniform but not dissolving traditional and cultural aspects that are essential to the identity of each country.  Slimbach seems to view this negatively through his discussion of the spread of fast food chains then he introduces a new point, it is not important that everything remain unchanging, there is still room for exploration and knowledge, “What matters most is not that there are virgin lands awaiting original discovery.  What’s important is that we should discover things that are new to us and feel the same wonder and elation as if they were new to everyone else.”

The change that the world is constantly going through may make the world more “uniform,” but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.  It gives people more ground to stand on when finding things in common with someone who lives on the other side of the world and allows us all to make connections that we might not have made if not for the commonalities.  However, preservation of identifying traits unique to each country is undeniably vital so that there are “things that are new to us” left to discover.

Change is a natural occurrence in life and this course is designed to help aid this change to be the most beneficial to the students who go abroad.  The Reflective Practice concepts act as a guide for reflection.  One concept that Slimbach discusses is “the task of rebuilding a common ‘home.’”  This concept coincides with the concept of affect or emotions.  Overall reflection is something I need to work on and identifying emotions is going to take the most effort.  Rebuilding a common home makes me realize that I can live as a nomad (for four months at least) and still form a home anywhere through the parts of me that don’t change, which for me are personal values and goals.

The travelogue I chose was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.  I saw the movie when I was little and have come to appreciate it so much since I have been older.  Taking complete control of her life, Frances, the main character just decides to move to Italy and this really embodies the mentality of taking a leap of faith.  The main character finds faith solely in herself and figures out how to make her life work along the way.  This is something that is important especially for someone like me who tries to plan everything out.  Through this experience “the new combines with and coexists alongside the old” (Slimbach, 4) to form a new person.  I chose this travel log because Frances becomes a stronger, more confident, independent woman and that is something I am striving for through the next few months.

Under-the-Tuscan-Sun-book-by-Frances-Mayes-e1461450479715

Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996. Print.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

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Travel Log 14 – Global Connections and Rites of Reincorporation by Ryan Flagg, Tokyo, Japan

In many ways, the idea of Japan and “Japaneseness,” along with “Japonism,” is one large global connection. Everything from art, anime and other forms of popular culture all have western influences and motivations. From my Visual Media course, we’ve been talking about how Japan both influences the international world, and vice-versa. Popular culture, like Pokemon, for example, is a direct product of the government and Japan trying to appeal to a global audience in order to increase both tourism and boost their economy. This sort of understanding of the different mediums of art created here isn’t really looked at in depth through a western audience like in Europe and America. Even for me, as someone who loves to consume Japanese animation and video games, I’ve come to be aware of the fact that this is consumption is precisely what the Japanese markets intend for success internationally and for travel into the country itself. Especially when you take a look at post-WWII, where all of this really began. Japan needed a way to reinvigorate culture and the economy, and they found the best way to do this was to sell all of these ideas from a media convergence mindset to a western audience, plus bringing western ideas into Japan. For example, Disney is a massive cultural phenomenon here, much like Pokemon, and more recently, Yokai Watch. Although it’s interesting to point out that while Yokai Watch is incredibly successful in Japan, the show and games have yet to take off in the US. Pokemon on the other hand is absolutely a global phenomenon. I’m sure most of you are playing the recently released Pokemon GO game on your phones. The franchise took over the world in the ‘90’s, and has done so again (despite it not being available in Japan right now). I believe that what Slimbach says in the proposed quote for this travel log is entirely true when you look at what Japan does in order to allow a connection between the country itself and the world around it. It isn’t just video games and anime though; it also has to do with the food, business world, fashion and everything someone from outside associates with Japan. Although I haven’t travelled to many places in the world, I’d like to think that this is common with other countries. These connections and influences are what draws us all to travel and for us Quinnipiac students, to study abroad. Firing off of that, I haven’t taken a single film class here. Filmmaking is ultimately my career choice, but the classes, lessons and insights I’ve learned here have made me appreciate becoming a global citizen. One part of the entire experience of studying abroad, I think, is to truly understand global connections and use these going forward in whichever direction we choose, be it career-wise, emotionally, critically when we travel, etc. I’m able to now take what I’ve learned through the connections I’ve made and apply those to my work in school, in my career, and in the future. I could teach my future children the lessons I’ve learned, which allows global connections to reach beyond the span of five months to a more generational education.

I’ve made a lot of friends here during my time studying abroad. I’ve made friends with Japanese people as well as those who are in my program, who are from all walks of life all around the world like China, South America, and of course the US. I’m not really into the big “send-off-event” type things. A simple low-key thank you and goodbye always works. Some of the people I’ve met who live in Japan certainly live further away from others, but with technology like Facebook, Instagram and LINE (a messaging app we all use here), I’m connected with these people in a way that wouldn’t have been possible ten or twenty years ago. In that, I won’t really be saying goodbye; I can still contact people with ease and we can all equally be aware of what we’re doing around the world. In terms of my “goodbye plan,” I’ll probably be going out to dinner with some friends next weekend before I take off. I will also want to take one last walk around some of my favorite places, such as Matsudo and the backstreets of Harajuku (which are ridiculously awesome for cool, artsy murals and shops).

I’m definitely ready and excited to return home in two weeks. I’ve been here for a long time, and I’m missing my friends, family and American food (OH GOD CHIPOTLE AND PIZZA.). In bringing a meaningful closure to this experience, I’m not really sure what I could do. I’ve already been to where I wanted to go, like Kyoto and Hiroshima, and I don’t have time to visit further places like Okinawa in the south or Hokkaido in the far north. I can absolutely see myself returning here though for a solid week or two, either surfing in Okinawa or skiing up in Hokkaido. In terms of reincorporation, I think I’ll do just fine. Granted, the first week being back will totally be a reverse culture shock. I’ll mostly just accept that for what it is, and since I’ve lived longer in the US than in Japan during the span of my life, I really don’t think the transition will be any earth-shattering explosion of emotions.

For a quote in this weeks log, I’d like to use a famous one from JRR Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.” I think this encapsulates our discussions of global connections and our experiences in other countries. For although we are each individual and have different things to do in our lives in wandering this earth, we all share a common human connection that spans countries and ages of everyone.