Studying abroad was never the ‘thing to do’ in my family. No one traveled to Europe, no one had a passport, no one even thought about plane tickets – until I decided I was ready for something new. Sitting in a classroom for an entire spring weekend had me thinking about more than just embarking on the trip of a life time. This course QU301 has already had me reflect on myself, realize the changes that are about to occur and helped me start my journey down the three phases of the Rites of Passage; separation, liminality and reincorporation.
I will soon be entering the separation phase. This is where I will be ‘separating’ from my old status, having to face a wave of challenges and maybe even a little bit of culture shock. My time abroad will more or less resemble an emotional roller-coaster with a multitude of high and low points throughout the semester.
During our workshop, I was most drawn to the concept of mentors. Mentors seem to be a big part of the venture for the next four months. Not only will the mentor and mentee have mutual respect for each other, but they will also share very similar experiences. I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders when the topic of mentors was first brought up. The thought of having someone to go to if anything doesn’t go as planned, or not as planned, is definitely a relief.
Reading though the Introduction to Becoming World Wise, Slimbach describes a very similar situation to what I have imagined my situation is going to be like for the first few days in Florence, Italy; “I dismount the bike and shyly approach for a closer look… their attention is singularly focused on one thing; an enormous full-color TV propped up on an old table. My immediate reaction is to wonder ….” (Slimbach, 1). When I think of travel I think of new experiences, learning and discover. I picture the places I visit to extremely differ from the US when in actuality, I am going to find that they are many times very similar. Slimbach is entering into a separation phase when discovering how many Americanized habits the Vietnamese have picked up on. At first he finds himself concerned and to an extent, even disgusted. The rest of the introduction seems to morph into a deeper Reflective Practice. Topics such as global learning, foreign goods, globalization, and homogenization are all thoroughly evaluated and discussed with the reader; “Global learning must be not only in the world but also for it” (Slimbach, 8). Slimbach analyzes that education abroad is more than just a changing experience for a mentee but it must also be beneficial to the public good. My first abroad experience was this past spring on an alternative spring break trip. I set out not to visit a destination island, but to make a difference in someone’s life. Being a part of a communitas and sharing the experience with other Quinnipiac business students helped me adjust quickly and have a smooth transition from the liminal phase to reincorporation. Thinking about having gone through a Rite of Passage with the alternative spring break trip that lasted just about a week, I can only imagine the different types of tricksters I will be faced with and the overall personal growth I will have done over the course of the next four months.
The travelogue that I have decided to read this semester is called “Chickens Eat Pasta”. The author, Clare Pedrick decided to start a new life after watching a video of a chicken eating spaghetti in a medieval hill village in central Italy. Clare made a change after seeing something so small and what others may have seen as insignificant. Oddly enough, I decided to study abroad in a similar fashion. One day I woke up, realized how tired I was of my same old routine and decided to apply to the abroad program. I find that a lot of students always planned on studying abroad but mine was rather spur of the moment.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.
Pedrick, Clare. Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria. N.p.: Matador, 2015. Print.