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.
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.