I’m usually the type of person that packs for a trip weeks in advance. I make my packing lists and edit them and then begin to set things aside—returning anything that I use in the weeks prior to the trip back to my suitcase or pile. The four semesters of college I have completed have been no different. I would be ready to load up and head out much sooner that needed. This time is different. I think I am more excited for this experience than any other, yet also more nervous.
I keep thinking back to our workshops, and the parallels in The Wizard of OZ to traditional Rites of Passage Theory. Dorothy did not get to make packing lists or prepare herself for her separation phase. Maybe her lack of warning made her more prepared, in a way, as she had no time to form expectations or fears. So while I’m here worrying about spiders and jellyfish, perhaps I should instead begin packing and bidding farewell to friends and family as I embark on this journey with no expectations, trusting that my mentors and liminoids will help me make this experience a successful Rite of Passage. After all, liminality is often compared to a threshold—like a passage from one room to another. These four months will be a small period of time in my life, but if I approach them correctly I hope the next room I enter will be greatly influenced by the threshold crossed.
While reading the introduction to Slimbach’s Becoming World Wise, I recognized many of his arguments clearly paralleled those of the Rites of Passage theory studied in class. In a successful Rite of Passage, the participant is changed by his or her experiences in liminality, and can thus take these experiences and apply them in the reincorporation stage to live a more informed and aware life. Separation, which we know must be successful in order to proceed to liminality, can be difficult for someone from the United States, especially become so many other cultures today are deeply influenced by “western” culture. Yet Slimbach argues that while these cultures have adopted the “new” (McDonalds around the world), they have kept the “old” alongside it. We see this in many places, such as the idea that McDonalds around the world serves different cuisine in order to adapt to the culture of its location. In order to have a successful separation, one must recognize this difference. Slimbach also speaks of the idea that global education, like a rite of passage, must have a purposeful outcome. “Global education must be not only in the world but also for it. Educational travel should leave the world a saner, stronger, and more sustainable place” (8). Thus, one undergoing a successful study abroad Rite of Passage will return to their home with new insight that will help them make the world a better place for all its inhabitants. I hope that my time in Australia will allow me experiences and knowledge to make me a better student, future Physician Assistant, and person.
Slimbach also emphasizes the importance of researching your host country before a global education experience. Thus, I have chosen the travelogue In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. The author, who has written many similar books about other travel experiences, takes a comedic approach to his storytelling. I chose this book because Bryson narrates his
experiences simply and truthfully, simultaneously in awe and amusement at the Australian culture and its many similarities and differences to America. Bryson’s amusement was mostly at how unprepared, physically and mentally, he was for many parts of this journey. So while I sit here counting down the days to departure, I hope I can laugh alongside Bryson at these crazy situations.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.
Bryson, Bill. In a Sunburned Country. New York: Broadway, 2001. Print.