One is faced with the “separation” phase when they are on the verge of delving into a change in lifestyle, culture or surrounding. In my case, separation means leaving everything that is familiar and easy for a world of unknowns. By sharing my plan for a healthy separation with my parents, I was able to get feedback on my plans’ feasibility. I discussed with them the importance of letting go. One must forget what they know so well in order to open themselves up for knew experiences. If I were to have a constant contact with home, I would be distracted from what is unfolding around me.
I also was able to communicate to my parents the importance of them separating as well. In my letter, I incorporated and shared an image of students on the streets of Italy conversing and laughing. This image was intended to express the importance of them letting go and realizing that what I am about to endure is beneficial to my life. I want to allow them to remain at ease while I am abroad, but at the same time understand that separation is an an important part of my life as a student and as a learner. They need not to worry about my well being, for an overwhelming concern and checking-in may also inhibit my growth as a liminal. In reference to the “story” of one’s life Slimbach writes, “This is why the story we need must project a distinctly social vision – one of understanding, trust and reciprocity that reaches across our deepest differences. It seeks to answer the interpersonal alienation endemic to world societies through in an embrace of those who are ‘stranger’ to us” (Slimbach 56). I believe his intent with this statement was that people look for those who they may relate well with. Slimbach expresses his desire for those world travelers to abandon that impulse and to reach out to those more familiar with the culture you are new to in order to best understand and assimilate.
A successful education abroad experience for me will be one that develops my skills in a social setting. Not necessarily using the Italian language but I would like to see growth in my abilities to immerse myself in whatever event is occurring at that specific moment. An unsuccessful experience would be one in which I remain focused on the classwork, living conditions and other minuscule challenges around me that distract me from experiencing the culture. I will use my confidence in my abilities as a measuring tool for whether I have developed as a person from my abroad experience or not. I plan to embrace openness, confidence and the ability to work out of a problem as major traits to help me through my experience abroad. I would like to be able to adopt new friends and lifestyles and I feel these traits will help me do so in the most efficient and effective way.
This image is a perfect description of the emotions I feel currently and have felt for the past week. My main focus as of now is to pack correctly and being that this is such a new experience for me, I struggle with what to pack. I feel that there is never enough room for everything I need, but at the same time I don’t want to stick out as American or tourist. My main concern in terms of clothing and packing is how to best prepare myself for the culture shock I will surely feel upon my arrival. The conflicting emotions based on my unsure thoughts have led to me behaving in a manner of repeatedly packing and unpacking, however, I feel that I am fully mentally prepared and have never been more excited.