As the time to depart the United States approaches, I have begun to feel less prepared than I originally thought I was. Looking back on my time in the seminar lectures back in April, I have realized that I find myself in a strong “pre-liminal phase”. This concept relates to the student’s mindset just prior to leaving for the host country. When discussing this phase of “separation” from the home country during the workshop I remember feeling as though I have nothing to worry about. I told myself that I don’t get nervous in general so why would this be any different? As departure nears, I find the separation phase impacting me much more than originally anticipated. I feel as though there is so much to get done before I depart in order to prepare myself for this new culture.
One concept in the rite of passage section that stood out to me during the workshop was the idea of coping with the liminal phase through mentors or getting out of your comfort zone. Slimbach notes in his introduction that without cultural convergence we would see, “…a monocultural world depleted of authentic peoples and pristine places and, thus, of truly educative experiences” (Slimbach, Introduction). I see this as relatable in the sense that as I prepare to exit the separation phase and into the liminal phase I know that all the stressors I fight through will allow me to have a greater learning experience.
Another concept I see as important in terms of my pre-departure stage of studying abroad was “Liminality” which we discussed as being temporarily living between two worlds, the old self and new self. I hope to encounter and endure as much educational challenge as I can in order to exploit the once in a lifetime opportunity I have presented in front of me this upcoming week. I must be weary, however, of resorting to the homeland for comfort in time of challenge, as we discussed in the workshop. Slimbach notes, “No Doubt there are areas of the world where modern worldview has so penetrated the fabric of local society that one rarely seems to encounter cultural strangeness” (Slimbach Introduction). I must avoid such an occurrence in order to receive the most beneficial learning experience that I can while in Italy.
As suggested by Slimbach, I have selected a book entitled, “An Italian Journey” by the author James Earnest Shaw. The book was chosen because it looks inside the authors time spent in Italy, specifically Tuscany the wonders that the country holds. I hope the book opens my eyes to the beauties that Italy grips that I otherwise may have overlooked. Shaw’s novel is more than just a descriptive book of tales and journeys that he experienced, it is a collection of overwhelming life lessons that he withstood in order to become the better person he is today. I hope to receive the same welcoming hands that the author felt upon his visits o the country, while maintaining a grip on what is important and what is to be enjoyed in moderation.