Travel Log 6: “The Mindful Traveler” by Daniela Scotto. Rome, Italy

Many individuals wait their whole lives to travel the world, keeping an extensive collection of destinations, photographs, and landmarks in which they hope to one-day reach. People typically tend to see the grass being greener on the other side, always anticipating their arrival to a specified dreamland. However, these dreams solely focus on themselves, imagining the excitement and wonder in which their temporary escape from reality will be filled with. This is what creates for the ‘carefree drifter’ or the ‘mass tourist’, having a one-track mind that is evidently self-centered.

Westerners’, especially Americans, sadly take things for granted. We do not ‘stop to smell the roses’. If we have something to do, somewhere to be, or a conversation to be had, it is very systematic. We live in a world that is run on practical terms of efficiency and time. Slimbach explains this phenomenon in the following quote, “Most of us are creatures of habit. Our tendency is to do things—including travel-related things—on automatic pilot, largely oblivious to the movements themselves and how they impact the world around us” (2010, p. 74). Because of this, the true benefits of travel become fogged behind our tunnel vision of what we believe traveling should entail. The ‘carefree drifter’ does just this, going through their traveling experience on autopilot, never adding or gaining any true meaning to themselves of their host culture. On the other hand, the ‘mass tourist’ is mainly concerned with returning home as a hero, publicizing all of the adventures in which they survived while overseas. These individuals are very egocentric, seeing and discussing their experience only from their point of view, without any consideration to their host country’s affect.

The ‘mindful traveler’ takes into account the affect that they have on their host country in addition to the affect their host country has on themselves. This can be seen through economic, cultural, social, ecological, and spiritual mindfulness. To begin economic mindfulness urges travelers to be aware of how his or her spendings abroad will influences locals, rather than large international companies and tourist organizations. Slimbach suggests, “Some of us might decide to stay in locally owned and operated guesthouses and eco-lodges or—better yet—in the homes of the rural or urban poor” (2010, p. 84). This example reassured my role as a mindful traveler, as my friends and I often travel under these housing arrangements. We typically stay in a Bed and Breakfast, spending the weekend in the home of locals, who rent out a bedroom in order to make a higher income. Next, cultural mindfulness encourages travelers to learn more about his or her host country prior to their endeavors. By doing this, individuals can be more aware and respectful of cultural values and morals while exchanging new languages and ideas with locals. Furthermore, social mindfulness reminds travelers to see situations from local’s perspectives. Slimbach best explains this concept in the following, “Mindful global learning aspires to narrow the gap between “us” and “them” strengthening the bond of understanding and legitimate respect between strangers” (2010, p. 87). This was my favorite aspect of mindful traveling, as I feel as though American travelers often are quick to judge foreigners as rude or distant. By stepping into their shoes, maybe we can begin to understand why animosity has grown towards American tourists; perhaps it is due to the generalization that we are all ‘carefree drifters’ or ‘mass tourists’! Ecological mindfulness was another interesting component of this notion. It is important for travelers to remember that although we may be on vacation, this country is a full-time home to many. Because of this, we must care for it as we would care for our own. Some ways to do this is keeping track of water usage, pollution, littering, and much more. Slimbach raises the harsh reality that, “Few of us stop to consider the enormous amount of jet fuel required to fly us from home to that colorful or “unspoiled” location abroad” (2010, p. 90). This bleak truth brought a guilty sense of awareness over me, as throughout my travels for twenty-years, I have never once gave thought of how my travels affect the atmosphere. Lastly, there is spiritual mindfulness. Spiritual mindfulness simply means getting involved with locals on a deeper level than what meets the eye. This may be through religious affairs, valued activities, or volunteer services. By attending mass every Sunday at a local and quite beautiful church, I do always feel as though I am connecting with locals on a spiritual level. Especially considering the fact that religion is a great influence on the Italian and Roman culture, I am able to practice a common faith simultaneously respecting a fundamental aspect of their culture.

I believe that our class working definition of “global community” reflects the concepts that Slimbach discusses when describing the “mindful traveler”. Mindful traveling is definitely a key characteristic of intentional participants of the global community. This is due to the fact that if an individual is only ‘going with the flow’ or ‘doing it for the insta’ then they will not be valuable whatsoever. Slimbach states, “This may partially explain why consistent growth in study-abroad participation has not necessarily met with a corresponding increase in longer-term cross-cultural engagement, whether at home or abroad” (2010, p.80). I completely agree with Slimbach, as I believe if more young adults were mindful travelers, they would be more involved in the global community. Because of this, I plan to continue practicing the same rituals in which incorporate aspects of the mindful travel in my everyday life and be more aware to add more meaning to my host culture. For instance, I hope to get more involved in directly adding value to my host culture through participation in volunteer service of some sort. However, I will definitely reach challenges in which will attempt in inhibiting mindful traveling. For instance, my communitas who are not in this course are not aware of these concepts, and therefore tend to fall under the categories of “carefree drifter” or “mass tourist”. Getting too entangled in the ways in which they tackle this study abroad experience could negatively affect my participation. Additionally, it is often difficult to not feel like you are living in paradise on a four-month long vacation. This could make it complicated to see from local’s perspectives, when I am often wonder-struck that I am living in this beautiful country. However, I will attempt to find a happy medium between these two separate traveler mindsets, in order to become a more beneficial and valuable “mindful traveler”.       unnamed.jpg

The picture in which I have attached best describes my thoughts regarding mindful traveling. This is due to the fact that from far away, this appears to be one of the most beautiful photographs and landscapes I have can remember seeing thus far throughout my travels. However, as a mindful traveler, I must remember the five important aspects of this concept. Although the beauty of the photo does not change, the story does. It is not just a pretty photograph to show my loved ones when I return from study abroad, it is a home to many individuals who undergo their own struggles and successes, who may have different economic backgrounds than myself, who may have different values and morals than myself, who look at myself as a strange foreigner, who may take different ecological cautions, and who may practice different faiths from myself. All in all, this photograph is not just a beautiful sight, it is a home with a story that I hope to uncover throughout my mindful traveling. I am looking forward to having a more meaningful background to this photograph come December. Arrivederci!

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Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Rachel Marino. Florence, Italy

img_6204-2In the pre-abroad part of studying abroad the most important decision to make is of course the destination.  Students have a multitude of reasons for choosing the locations of their temporary homes.  For me, a very important part was choosing a culture that I felt like I wanted to integrate myself into and adapt myself to fit into.  The most important part of doing this is learning how to transition from the “mass tourist” to a “mindful traveler” and potentially even a community member.  Even as the weather begins to cool down, there are tourists who mob the streets.  I feel very separated from these people as if I have deemed myself a local, although I’m fairly certain locals don’t see me as a local.  I still get offered paintings off the street and people keep shoving selfie sticks in my face calling me Lady GaGa (which I still don’t quite understand).  Regardless of how locals view me, I am not part of the mass tourist group in Italy- taking pictures of the Duomo, actually using selfie sticks and invading the middle of the streets ignorant of the fact that Florence is a home to many people who are just trying to get to work every day, not just a place for vacation.  Being a mass tourist can best be categorized as someone merely looking for another passport stamp.

The term carefree drifter describes someone whose idea of successful traveling is performing everything one does at home, in a new place, “to do things – including travel-related things- on automatic pilot, largely oblivious to the movements themselves and how they impact the world around us” (Slimbach, 74).  Slimbach continues to discuss how being “mindful” largely requires total engagement and commitment to becoming mindful in everyday life and how that compares to being mindful in life abroad.  Staying on autopilot helps many people (especially those who travel abroad for long periods of time) to “stay ‘on course.’”  While this may be helpful to study abroad students at first, it will be detrimental to the changing process and could even prohibit a student from separating mentally despite the amount of time one is abroad.

There are different distinctions of being a mindful traveler such as having economic, cultural, social, ecological, and spiritual mindfulness and this of course looks different depending on the location.  I found difficulty becoming mindful of these particular distinctions because many relate to current events, which I don’t particularly keep up on in The United States and much less in Italy.  Being aware of these events could largely increase my ability to adapt to life here in Florence.  This would create many great topics to have in mind to strike up conversations with locals, which I think is the best way to enrich my study abroad experience.  Midterms are in two weeks, which means my time here is almost halfway done and to be honest I feel behind, I haven’t really made solid friendships aside from other QU students and I haven’t met locals.  It’s harder than it sounds- people are busy, and similar to the US it’s not necessarily common to badger strangers asking questions about life in Italy, personal questions or even inquiring about current events.  However, this could greatly enrich my journey and I have started to feel like time is running out.  It no longer feels like just yesterday I was reading goodbye letters friends had written me in the airport, now that’s a distant memory.  I look ahead and have so much to look forward to, after midterms will be a new beginning but then I will truly be racing the clock.

Changing the definition of a global traveler will guide me to becoming more proactive about my cultural learning experience in my time left here.  Being part of a global community can be summed up on a simple level- that we are all human.  After living in Italy for a fifty-one days my more complex definition would be decreasing the differences between myself and another person around me.  Not necessarily to become exactly like everyone in the host culture but to gain a complete understanding for the differences between the home and host culture.

The picture I chose to include was from this past weekend.  I ventured through Oktoberfest in Müchen.  The first day many of my friends from Quinnipiac chose to go on a bike tour while I didn’t.  I shopped for a dirndl and made my way to the festival on my own for the first part of the day and managed to make some friends from Marist College in New York.  Later in the day I was able to meet up with my group and I was able to enjoy the festival more thoroughly.  The next day I embarked on a tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle while my friends went to the festival.  This photo is of the castle from a bridge I worked very hard to reach.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travelogue 5: “Conversations”by Dejanay Richardson. Barcelona, Spain

As the weeks progresses by, I can honestly say that studying abroad, specifically, in Spain has brought many conversations about special topics about culture. In many of my classes, we discuss the continuum and values of how cultural dimensions characterize the structure of a society`s structure. From comparing and contrasting U.S. culture to Spain`s culture, there are numerous differences that a person can notice in their everyday life. In the Guide 9: Studying Abroad and Learning Abroad activity sheet, Thiederman gives specific descriptions on how different values affect  different cultures. In Chapter 5: “CultureLearning, Values, and Ethical Choices”, the author gives us certain scenarios we may deem as appalling, intriguing, weird, or have a neutral response. He highlighted this to express that in different cultures, these same scenarios will be perceived differently because a group of people perceives a different interpretation to the situation. Learning about accepting a culture`s interpretations, values, and ethics guided me through my meeting with Silvia Sintes. Silvia is a student at a local college in Barcelona, and I wanted to select her for my interview to relate to her in age bracket and to have an insight to her country`s history, and if she thinks the current values people in Catalunya holds will change in the future.

It is important to discuss the different cultural mindsets and values from a person from the host culture because he or she has a huge understanding to why their society behaves the way it behaves. In the Chapter 5:: “CultureLearning, Values, and Ethical Choices”of the , the author included the scenarios of kicking a cow, or public urination, he was urging the reader to think about how acceptance of different cultures morality and perceptions are linked to values and culture.Daniel Hess explains this future by using Myron Lustig`s example saying ” In a sense, a culture`s values provide the basic assumptions that guide thought and action. By providing its members with shared beliefs and thoughts about the “right” and “proper” ways of behaving, cultures provide the context within which individual values develop” (1988, 56)” Since Silvia is a member of Barcelona`s culture, she is my link to knowing about the origins of these values, assumptions, and deeper – sub textual historical analogies that I could not find anywhere else. I fully enjoyed our talk and I was nice getting to know about Spain.

During the interview, I focused on certain topics that deals with different cultural values that are different than the United States. When I asked Silvia about if Spain is more traditional or change oriented in terms of innovation or ideas she gave me an interesting response. “In my opinion, Spain is more oriented in a traditional way in terms of innovation and ideas, obviously in some things they are innovating a lot and they are more open minded than then but I think they are still more traditional in a lot of things. I think that this is changing now with new generations growing but there’s a lot to do.” I then proceeded to ask if Spain centers its focus on the youth or the wise. The youth question deals with individualism and collectivism since more collectivist countries put more importance on the elderly than the youth. However, it seems as if Spain is becoming more individualist than collectivist. Silvia replied “Nowadays I feel like people are more focused on themselves than then. Personally I think that we have ‘’forgot’’ the wise or the elder people and sometimes we should listen to them because they know a lot that we don’t. I think that this problem is the same in so many countries because nowadays the society is more focused on themselves and the youth think that they know everything, a way of thinking that in my opinion is terribly wrong.” Cultures in the eastern hemisphere, like China and India if more hierarchical than egalitarian. Even though the United States thinks of itself as egalitarian in terms of social class, race, gender etc, it has been proven that this is not the case. It amazes me how she said Spain is more hierarchical than equal, because there’s no mid-term between social classes, generally or you are rich or you’re ‘’poor’’. The economic crisis in Spain has corrupted politicial power and  have removed the mid class, there’s no equality between all the citizens of this country. We can see these concepts happening a lot, especially in the United States. Talking to her made me reflect on the abc`s of culture. I was lead into the interview perceiving certain things, but by being open and optimistic I learned about how differences and similarities between people and culture affect certain values and how we communicate with each other.

After the interview, I reflected on what it must be like to be in Silvia`s shoes. I placed myself in Silvia`s position by thinking about the values and beliefs some of my fellow classmates at QU hold that are similar to Spanaird Culture. One of the values I think is really strong at QU is greek life. I have never had any derogatory feelings towards that organization, but some of the stories and stereotypes that are attached to the affiliation with greek life have given me apprehensions. Personally, sitting down with girls or guys in a greek organization would be similar if Silvia went to class with U.S. students in an “All American” college. The main reason I have not participated in this organization is the uncertainty of knowing the purpose of the organization. . However, I think of the Panhellenic Community similar to Spain`s group- oriented culture because the value of interdependence is as strong in a sorority as it is in Spain. While individualism is progressively growing in spain, the idea of honoring friendships and relationships is equivalent to what is like to be in a Sorority. Spainards of course have their own rite of passage when initiating friendships, but I now see the reasoning behind being in greek life.

I thanked Silvia for sitting down with me and told her that this interview was more than just a conversation, it was a way to realize why societies underwritten values of culture come about, and learning about other cultural dimensions is the only learn and other stand how each culture relates to one another. I was not able to have a picture of the both of us together, but below is a picture of Silvia Sintes. Silvia would be deemed as a trustee mentor of the never ending communitas I am growing in Spain.

 

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Silvia Sintes- Conversations Fall/ Spring 2016

Works Cited:

Hess, J. Daniel. Studying Abroad/learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning. Yarmouth, Me., USA: Intercultural, 1997. Print.

 

 

Travel Log 5: “Conversations” By JonCarlo DeFeudis. Sevilla, Spain.

It was my great pleasure this week to interview my host Mom, Rosa, this week. (Sorry Mom, Mary Ellen Cherney!) From the first day I met Rosa we’ve shared a special bond, she took us in with open arms and has been tirelessly caring for us like her own children. Rosa is like a mother to me and I am very thankful for that. Thus she has officially been added as the third mom in my list at this point, I’ve been graced in this life to have such wonderful mother figures in all walks of life. My interview with Rosa was mediated by my two fluent Spanish speaking roommates, Marianna and Roxanne, a special thanks for the help! They asked and translated my questions to Rosa and I was writing furiously as much of what Rosa was saying as possible. The primary purpose of this discussion was to get Rosa’s cultured viewpoint on Spain, Sevilla, and the United States in order to gain insight about my own cultural experiences and life as a student in Sevilla.

Rosa hails from Peru, which she considers her favorite place in the world, as it is where her heart will always be, she told me. She came here to Spain to make a better life for her family and to particularly give her children opportunities to succeed and become educated. She indeed has been able to do just that and more through perseverance, hard work, and with her infectious positive spirit. Mothers are without doubt a special blessing in this crazy journey we call life. As our host Mom, Rosa cooks lunch and dinner for us six days a week and generally does housekeeping. She does not know any English besides a particularly lively, “Oh My Gawwwd!” which she sprinkles in here and there for extra gusto. Just this past summer, Rosa visited Boston and New York City with her husband, Roberto. I guess one last contextual note here is a humble brag, which is that all my roommates in the apartment think I am her favorite.

(The interview took place in a bright dining room on one of the last summer nights here in Sevilla, it is still very warm at night and even at nine o’clock the street lights add to the last sliver of sunlight to combine for a soft ambiance outside. Rosa is still in her chef’s apron and is seated next to me, beaming. We have just wrapped up a delectable dinner of pork bathed in gravy and mashed potatoes- made by Rosa. Roberto tenderly places his hands on Rosa’s shoulders, and she responds to my questions with an embarrassed aura as she is unaccustomed to being interviewed. Nevertheless, she is happy as can be to be helping me in my blog.)

In regards to my questions about Sevilla, Rosa had nothing but praise. Rosa told me that Sevilla is a unique and special city that stands apart from the rest of Spain. She further explained that Sevilla is a city which contains an educated and kind hearted people that are especially easy going. She contrasted this to her visits to Boston and New York, “The people there are crazy! They eat everywhere, are always trying to get somewhere, and no siesta!” She added that Sevilla is the place where she raised her family, they are happy here, and that has made her so grateful and proud of Sevilla. I asked Rosa if there was anything she could change about Sevilla, what would it be? She responded that she wouldn’t change a thing. Through my own eyes this city has instilled in me a similar feeling of warmth that Rosa referred to. Sevilla is a city that has it all: a rich history, educational institutions, a dynamic culture, and healthy tourism. Rosa would like to add that it is awfully beautiful here in Sevilla. I concur.

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Rosa and I!

My next series of questions were about how Spaniards see American students and tourists. Rosa admitted that Spaniards, in particularly young Spaniards, are jealous of our opportunities to study and that they see us as a very cultured people. For example, most Spaniards will see someone on a train or on a bench reading or studying and automatically conclude that it must be an American. A good grade here is considered a C or 70. I know when I think of how it is back home, most students are going for straight As. Truly though, we as Americans are very fortunate to have the privilege to study almost anywhere in the world. Another difference between young Americans and Spaniards are how each group approaches night life. Generally, Americans drink and go out to be smashed and have a wild night. On the contrary, Spaniards don’t drink heavily, yet still enjoy the same party atmosphere that us Americans enjoy all too well.

Finally, I inquired about Rosa’s personal feelings on taking care of us foreign students almost 7 days a week. Gracefully, Rosa explained that she doesn’t even consider caretaking as work, she just loves doing it naturally. Rosa is an incredibly selfless woman. Above all she loves to cook for us, (and trust me she is an otherworldly cook). What’s more is that she is passionate in helping us. It brings her much happiness to be around us and to be a mentor in our journey abroad. Even when I asked Rosa about how we differed from her own children, she simply replied, “Very little. You all are my responsibility and I take that very seriously. I do this because I love to”.

When I think of Rosa I am reminded that in this Rite of Passage I am going through here in Sevilla, it is vital to have a strong mentor. I feel so lucky to have a constant companion in Rosa day in-day out. Even if I’m having a turbulent day or feel confused about something she is there to point me in the right direction and put a smile on my face. She is more than just a caretaker; she is a genuine person who treats us like her own. It is has made an immense difference in creating a positive atmosphere for me. I can easily call this place home thanks to her. This comfort level is key to assimilating in your experience abroad that cannot be overlooked. You have to feel at ease, or as I would call it, tranquilo.

Rosa’s words have allowed me to understand more about Sevilla and the people of Spain in a healthy perspective. She may have seemed to be gloating about Sevilla the whole time, but I can almost certainly confirm her assertions. Sevilla truly is a wonderful place to be as a foreign student. I have felt the utmost welcome here. From her perspective I can see what drives the Spanish people. Before this interview I felt that the average Spaniard is somewhat lazy due to their extreme patience and slowness. But Rosa’s testament has opened my eyes to all the hard working individuals I see every day in the city. Down the street, at a café I frequent there is a waiter, his name is Julio. He too, has reached out to us and has been incredibly kind. Julio is the type of guy who is there every day working hard, but all the same, enjoying every moment to the fullest. I really do appreciate that trait in Spaniards. They are steadfast workers that tend to have a positive outlook and it’s visible. The stereotype of Spaniard’s slowness is just a veil that does not impart the whole story. They are secretly illustrious people who happen to enjoy relaxing in their spare time. Americans are constantly in motion and cannot appreciate this, I feel. The positively charged emotion that Spaniards display is not what can be said of the blue collar American labor force. The Spanish moral principles seem to reflect to me the Golden Rule, defined in chapter five of Studying Abroad/Learning Abroad as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (J. Daniel Hiess,  49).

In closing, now that I have increased my awareness of the subtleties of the Spanish culture, I can relate that back home I don’t involve myself with the Fraternity life. If I were to sit down with a fraternity member at Quinnipiac and ask them about their take on their community I’m sure I would be amazed at their descriptions. My preconceived perceptions would likely be disarmed. It is an important lesson I’ve learned during my time abroad, first hand, not to judge a book on its cover. Studying abroad will constantly flip your expectations upside down like this. Here in Spain I’ve just learned to go with the flow and to keep a cheerful outlook.

 

Works Cited:

Hess, J. Daniel. Studying Abroad/learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning. Yarmouth, Me., USA: Intercultural, 1997. Print.

Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Chase Chiga. Shanghai, China

All three of these forms of travelers are present wherever you go in the world. I honestly am unsure of personal connections to these three types of travelers I do try to maintain myself as a mindful traveler, in that I want to try and leave as little impact on where I visit as I can while still gaining as much as I can from the experience. As for the other two, I try and avoid it just out of respect for the country. We live in a very globally connected world so sometimes it is hard to tell what is adapted culture, especially with Shanghai, and what is modern Chinese culture. What I mean is that shanghai has been so connected with the west as one of china’s main ports for international trade it could easily have been like how Slimback described the youth reacting to tourists, “Within two decades, the traditional culture was being held up to scorn and ridiculed by youth who began to see themselves as ugly, poor, and backward compared to the beautiful, rich, and culturally sophisticated foreigners.” (Slimback, P.86) This makes hard to avoid acting like I am at home because most people seem to act more or less the same as at home.

Mindful traveling, in my opinion, is a key characteristic of international participants of the global community. If a person isn’t a mindful traveler it severely hinders their participation in the global community by making them stick out and be looked at differently by the members of their current nation. I use mindful traveling by avoiding using English when I can. That might seem rather simple but it can be a tough thing to avoid when for example the restaurants, for the most part, have English translations and most, especially younger, people in Shanghai know at least basic English. However preferring to use Chinese not only helps me practice but also shows that I am not just experiencing life but trying to learn while I am here. The main challenge I see with being a mindful traveler is that pushing yourself out of your home culture is very hard, it takes a lot more effort than people tend to think to just let your home opinions go and try and take the mindset of your home culture. I will admit I haven’t completely moved passed it although I try. For example, the smoking culture here compared to the US, here in China smoking cigarettes is a very common practice and there are few limits to where you can smoke so all restaurants tend to have ashtrays at the table and even hotels allow you to smoke in the rooms. From a US perspective where smoking is discouraged seeing this many people smoking more or less everywhere is very strange and hard for me to take as the social norm here. Another big challenge to mindful traveling is the existence of a language barrier, the fact that exist makes it even harder for the average traveler to avoid leaving a cultural footprint, if you know the language and use it people will look at you differently and not just look at you as a traveler.

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Temple in zhouzhuang

My photo this week is a picture of an old temple within Zhouzhuang china, a town outside of shanghai and called the Venice of the east. This town is famous for being a popular tourist destination for both national and international tourists. As such much of this town’s buildings, all of which are probably as old or older than the United States, has been converted to shops selling to the tourists. That is really a good example of people not being mindful travelers, people from around the world have traveled to see the architecture and the beautiful town and the people themselves have adapted to it. The temple was one of the least touched places in the town. It is still an active Buddhist temple and contains little evidence of tourists, and although some of my group, myself included, visited the temple we made sure to be mindful of those in it and respected them. It is interesting seeing how much tourists can shape places they visit and really makes me want to try and not encourage areas to adapt to attract them.

 

 

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Casey Keohan. Gold Coast, Australia

Throughout orientation and the first few weeks of classes, I have begun to pick up on many cultural similarities and differences. For this assignment, I decided to interview one of the concierges in my building. Luke is a student at University as well, and was born and raised in the area. I chose to interview him because he has a lot of exposure working with different cultures through the diverse tourist population here in the gold coast.

Australian culture has many similarities to American culture—both questioning and conflict are viewed similarly. Yet there are some dramatic differences. I was particularly interested in the treatment of elders. Luke, who is around the same age as me, explained that elders are put on a pedestal. He complained that “no one cares about our opinions”, and instead older Australians make all the decisions. Having worked at a nursing home in the US, I see that many elders are disrespected and abused by family members and healthcare staff. Their successes in life do not seem to matter anymore as the elderly become more reliant on others. Here, Luke explained that older folks will sometimes just walk to the front of the queue at the grocery store and as a young person you cannot do much about it. Retired Australians are guaranteed a pension, and the amount is larger for those that made less in their working life—opposite the social security system in the United States.

The only other category that seemed to be different was that of thinking styles. Luke explained that the thinking styles vary greatly by location, but here in the gold coast they are very similar to the linear style of the United States. However, in places like Byron Bay or Melbourne, more creative thinking is highly respected and displayed prominently in public. I saw this first hand this past weekend when I was in Melbourne. In most alleys, street art is completely legal and really adds a whole new dimension to the city. At home, dark alleyways would be sketchy and considered dangerous to walk down. In Melbourne, the paintings have made these otherwise gloomy places come to life. They are more inviting, and often house some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. Our tour guide told us that the best things in Melbourne are the things that you cannot see from a distance, and this is certainly aided by the fact that they hold all kinds of art and creativity to such a high regard.

As far as the remaining interview topics, Luke observes them to be very similar to the US culture. Especially on the gold coast, people are all about having the biggest house and the nicest car. People like to brag about how much money they have and all the things they have done (though Australians can be very quick to pull someone right off their high horse). Young adults tend to move out soon after they finish their schooling, whether it is high school or university. It has become more acceptable to move back home if needed, just like at home. There is not much of a class system, although Australia is also struggling with the issue of a dissolving middle class and a widening gap between the wealthy and the poor—which has been a major issue at home recently. Things tend to be a little more formal here as far as dress code at university, but according to Luke that is very specific to Bond Uni and probably because of the large population of international students.

I have become involved in many areas of campus life at QU over my two years, from athletics to admissions and the honors program. I have not gotten involved in greek life, and while I have nothing against it or the people in it, I have never been drawn to the idea. After this experience, I think I would be more open to learning more about the culture and community upon my return to QU. I think getting involved with a different group of people on campus who I may not have otherwise met would be valuable to making me a more aware person. As J. Daniel Hess says, “by throwing light on your own values and bringing them into sharper focus, the intercultural experience offers you the opportunity to enhance, elaborate, and strengthen the value system you have inherited and developed over the course of your life” (53-54). Thus this study abroad experience as well as any new experiences I engage in at home will help me to strengthen my own value system and knowledge base.

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Hosier Lane, Melbourne VIC, Fall 2016

Unfortunately I was not able to get Luke’s permission to post a picture, so instead I have included a picture of Hosier Lane in Melbourne, where the street art stretches from corner to corner of each building, and a small shop with amazing coffee operates out of a doorway onto the street. This is meant to show that Australia seems to be more open to all different types of art and is very appreciative of a variety of personal talents.

Works Cited

Hess, J. Daniel. Studying Abroad/learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning. Yarmouth, Me., USA: Intercultural, 1997. Print.

Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Micaela Buttner. Gold Coast, Australia

Culture values and morals vary widely from one place to the next. When coming to my host country, Australia, I did not take into consideration some things that we found normal would be offensive or strange to them, and vice versa. When deciding whom to interview for this assignment, I thought long about whom the right person would be. I chose my travel agent, Maxine, who manages all the flights and trips at my school. The reasoning for choosing Maxine was quite obvious in my eyes; she works with Americans, Europeans, Asians, Australians, etc. She is not bias in her views and has been exposed to a wide range of cultures and those cultures behaviors.

Maxine is originally from New Zealand, but met her husband in Australia, which is why she now lives here. Every day, she deals mostly with American students and has a good idea of how we act and behave. She has also visited the United States and has been exposed to our different culture. I personally believe that this made her an extremely good interviewee when asking about Australians values compared to Americans.

My host country’s personal and cultural viewpoints and mindsets are important to discuss simply due to the fact I am living in their “home”. On page 74 Slimbach says, “It involves living with the people, as the people, and for the people, without indulging the illusion of ever becoming the people.” I don’t believe I have to completely get rid of my own values, since I grew up with my own beliefs based off of my culture and family, but I do think it is important to open my eyes up to Australians values and their way of life. Never would I want to do something insulting unknowingly, and I don’t want to take anything the wrong way as well. By discussing these topics, I can get a better understanding of where they come from and why they behave the way they do. No longer will I pretend I didn’t hear the sales rep in the store calling for me; I’ll know they genuinely just want to talk. Next time I hear a young child say a profane curse word, I’ll know that is how everyone is here. I now also understand their laid back nature and why 70% of Australian’s don’t go to University – simply because they would rather enjoy life and do other things that are more enjoyable. Taking this time to get to know Australians mindsets and values will allow me to no longer be judgmental, but instead fully accept them for who they are.

Certain topics during my conversation with Maxine stood out to me. The first discussion pertained to materialism vs. spirituality. As an American, acquiring material wealth is a sign of success. This idea of the more things you own the wealthier you are likely stems from movie and pop stars. We all know they’re wealthy, and they also show off how much they have. Therefore, we think we must follow suit. Maxine said that in Australia, it’s not about how much you own that shows success, but it’s whether or not you own a house and bigger assets like that. She personally believes that as long as she feels financially stable, then she is successful. When walking down the streets in Australia, you rarely see any expensive cars. Actually, when I was walking to get gelato today, a beautiful BMW was driving down the street and everyone outside was just gawking at this car. It is not normal for them to show off their wealth in such a manner. Whereas in America, a BMW is a car you see every day. Australians don’t need the fancy clothes, cars, and jewelry that us Americans think we need to show our success.

Our second discussion was about independence vs. dependence. The United States as a whole, I feel, is very independent. Americans do not rely on other people to get something done. In our culture, we are told to grow up, go to college, get a job, move out, get married and have kids. Being dependent on family and other people in our life is seen as unhealthy. To grow, you have to be able to do things on your own and are responsible for your own future. When discussing this with Maxine, she completely agreed with American values. However, she said Australians do not abide by this anymore. Supposedly previous generations worked hard on their own and saved for the future and for a family. Now, newer generations are very dependent on family and have become sheltered. She believes children are not pushed from the nest anymore, which is delaying them from becoming mature and strong-minded individuals. This surprised me at first, mostly because I was biased on our American values of being independent. After discussing this with Maxine, she said it really just stems back to the low University attendance rates that cause young adolescents to rely on family longer.

The last discussion that was not too surprising, but really describes Australians as a whole was informality vs. formality. In America, informality and casual appearance signal warmth and equality. The new trend now with females is leggings with an over sized sweater or shirt. If we all wear the same thing, then we all feel as if we are equal. Australia, like us, is the same way. Socially, Australia is built on an informal attitude. There is still a class system that is evident, but they rarely mix. The majority of Australians have informal appearances, which is why they are regarded as down to earth. When out, you’ll see many people without shoes on and they will be dressed in comfortable clothing. At my university, I was actually told us “Americans are too formal.” They believe we should not call teachers by “Professor” or “Dr.”, but by their first names. If we call them by something else, we are implying that we are not equal.

When thinking about a specific part of campus life I do not participate in, it’s a little baffling considering I have a very athletic background. I do not participate in any intramural or club sports. I believe this has to do with inequality. More males are involved in these activities at Quinnipiac than females are. Therefore, it can be pretty intimidating when wanting to join a team. Boys are extremely competitive, and I would never want to be that person, let a lone that girl, who ruins a game for them. I think if I reached out to some of my guy friends and really expressed why playing with them was important to me, then I could easily resolve this issue.

I chose this picture to post since I actually could not do this interview in person; I had to go back and forth via email. Being the lucky person I am, I had to get my wisdom tooth out this week and wasn’t feeling too great! So enjoy my chipmunk cheek.

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When in Australia, get your wisdom tooth out I guess, Fall2016.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 6 “Mindful Traveler” by Katheryn DeMarey. Florence, Italy

Everyone travels in different ways. Some people see everything through the camera on their phone, some people dive into the tourist restaurants with the 5 star yelp reviews…and then there are a small handful of travelers who really embrace the culture before them. Slimbach discusses how there are three types of travelers in the world; the ‘mass tourist’, the ‘carefree drifter’ and the ‘mindful traveler’.

The mast tourist is all about the ‘been there, done that’. They are typically obsessing over their Instagram filers, booking a trip to the latest and greatest all-inclusive resort and trying to find a cute outfit in one of the brand name shops in their country of choice. Their mind frame is in the U.S… always looking for something to show off to their friends and completely unaware of the surrounding culture passing by. The carefree drifter is similar but spends most of their trip going with the flow. If they are with familiar faces, they are happy. Typically the carefree drifter will find themselves at a ‘American bar’ or the ‘tourist traps’ of the city. They “simply go with the flow, even if that flow is shallow and trifling” (Slimbach, 74). These people would probably be happier doing other ‘off the beaten path’ activities but they are either too shy or too scared to stray away from their familiar surroundings.

On the other side of traveling, one will find the ‘mindful traveler’. The mindful traveler, according to Slimbach, is made up of 5 different parts that include economic mindfulness, cultural mindfulness, social mindfulness, ecological mindfulness and spiritual mindfulness. This type of person aspire to narrow the gap between tourists and natives, find a mutual respect between all people and look to understand the host countries culture. Mindful travelers understand that spending money in their host country is beneficial ONLY if they are spending it on the family businesses and the home grown shops. If not, the money being spent is probably going straight into the pockets of some big company in another land that won’t give back to the natives.

Personally I find that most study abroad students that I have encountered are a carefree drifter or a mass tourist. Snapchat has taken over our culture and no one knows how to enjoy things for personal pleasure. I find that when I go to a tourist trap restaurant or even day trip I am completely unsatisfied. That being said, I will admit that I take a thousand photos but I don’t take photos in hopes of posting an Instagram that will get over 100 likes or to show off my adventures. I take photos to help document my journey and life changing experiences.

Being a mindful traveler is all about interacting with your surrounding cultures which is a huge part of global community. If traveling to different countries and staying in 5 star hotels, driving Italian Ferraris and eating macaroons in Paris was global community… we would all be experts. But the reality is that global community takes much more and it starts with cultural interaction with mindful travelers. If I had to alter the definition of global community we wrote in class, I would include something about not only being aware of another culture, but diving into it – not only to help someone else, but to experience life from a new perspective.

Being a mindful traveler is a key characteristic of intentional participants of the global community. I believe that I am currently being a mindful traveler not just because I enjoy trying new foods down unpopular streets and bargaining with street vendors, but I am always interacting with people from another culture. No, when I say this I am not referring to ordering a croissant from our local bakery. I’m talking about the times I started a conversation with the person behind me in line, or the Italian waiter that was serving me for the night, or even the person I was sitting near on the train.

The picture that I decided to post this week is from my train ride home from Venice last Sunday. It may not look like much to someone at a quick glance, but the people in the photo will always have a lasting memory that I will carry with me throughout all my journeys. The family trying to get their stuff together on the side of the train are actually 20160917_210913my new friends from Dubai. They were traveling destination-less with their two children, one eight and one 12 months old. Our conversation started when their son started crying and we overheard them talking with an older gentlemen about where to stay and what to do in Italy. For the next two and a half hours we all got to know each other so well (with broken English and Italian – definitely one of the bigger challenges that inhibit mindful traveling) that Ayan, the little boy, started telling us his address in Dubai because he wanted us to come visit when he got back home. Cam’ron started complimenting u, telling us that we were just like his children, taking photos and talking about how glad he was about being separated from the rest of his family who were sitting a train car ahead of us. We shared drinks and snacks and in the blink of an eye, we were at out stop. We helped the couple off the train, started hugging goodbye and turned back to see that Cam’ron had come to the train door to wave and say his final goodbye again. Oddly enough, this small two hour event showed me more than any other part of my travels. I felt my heart grow a little heavy when I squeezed Ayan goodbye knowing that I will never talk to them again, but then quickly realized just how lucky I am to be able to experience things like this. Being a mindful traveler will not only enhance my abroad experience but also change my views and mindsets from here out.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Mike Raimondo, Florence Italy

As we approach the halfway mark in Italy and as I begin to prepare for midterms coming up in about a week and a half I realize that traveling is much more than just visiting a location. You need to ingrain yourself within the culture, people and norms that follow suit when you enter the new environment. In order to do develop such an ability, one bust exploit what Slimbach describes as “Mindful Traveler” intentions. He writes in chapter three that, “To be a ‘mindful traveler’ is to approach field settings with a level of sensitivity and curiosity that raises our conscience awareness of how we affect the social and natural environment we enter and act upon” (Slimbach, 74). This sensitivity that Slimbach elaborates on is somewhat of a tool necessary for understanding the specific people and their behavior. When I traveled to Germany this past weekend, I struggled with learning the customs of greeting a German local. Especially because of the short time in the country, I continued to present the norms I learned in Italy but was not received correctly. The discussion of the two ideas of a “carefree drifter” and a “mass tourist” are also interesting in that they provide us a structure and an outline for individual behavior that displays ignorance or awe. When we travel, Slimbach tells us we must be mindful and aware of everything we encounter and attempt to avoid shock and awe at the slightest new encounter. This relates to our working definition of a Global Community in that we are all separated by borders and bodies of water, but in reality we are all one community and this idea is constantly becoming stronger with the increase in global interconnectedness. IMG_8427-1.JPGEconomic relations between nations are becoming so intertwined that those who see the direction of the future of the world would follow the examples Slimbach describes by learning how to interact in different cultures.

I firmly believe that mindful traveling is a key characteristic for those who willingly participate in the global community. Those who succeed while studying abroad are those who master mindful traveling and return home with skills mindless travelers do not acquire abroad. In the final two months abroad I plan to broaden my mindful traveling abilities when I venture into countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Hungary and the Netherlands. By deepening my knowledge and experience entering new cultures, my ability to ingrain myself in the customs of each country will increase. Challenges that exist to harm my ability to perform well are those around me and the activities I am doing. When I am surrounded in class and at all the clubs and restaurants by American students, I feel I am not getting the most authentic Italian experience. When I travel throughout Europe I am usually in a hostel with all American students and travelers which also inhibits my ability to adopt cultural knowledge. I must be weary of this and attempt to avoid any inhibitions to my experience.

The picture I chose is me at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. The festival was filled with travelers from across the world. It exemplifies me being a mindful traveler in that I am deeply engrossing myself in a century-old tradition. I was able to learn some basic German and understand how people act in this country and compare it to the norms of Italy and the United States. I plan to continue this mindful traveling when I visit Barcelona this upcoming weekend.

Travel Log 3 “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality.” by Mazel Genfi London, England

The first week in London has been a major whirlwind for me. And it took me by storm. I actually went into London with open arms,trying to make myself feel at home. I didn’t want to believe that I physically separated from my native culture. However, I was so wrong. Very wrong. Extremely Wrong.

Upon arrival, I just had the mindset that I was here and there was nothing I can do about it. Central London honestly reminds me of Manhattan. The fast nature of the people, the fast cars and, the people in a hurry to go to work or whatever destination. There was the friendly reminders of home in the form of food, such as CHIPOTLE and McDonald’s. However, as days went on and we were still staying in the hotel before we moved into our dorms, I started to notice the cultural differences. For instance, the streets and the way London is set up.  Back home, pedestrians are kings. That is not the case here. The drivers always have the right of way and if they have to run you over, they will because it is considered your fault. The food is not the same, at all.  My favorite drink, Sprite, does not taste the same at all.

Right now, I’m mentally here. I’m learning to manage my money, which was kind of hard. 10 pounds is clearly not the same as 10 dollars. I remember having a conversation with my mom saying “Yeah I spent £10 on a meal right now.” She went off on me and told me never again because that was like the equivalent of $15. A few days after that we moved into our dorms, and living in a flat is kind of weird. Like me and my flatmates have no type of connections what-so-ever. They’re “freshers” which is basically another way to say freshman here. We all kind of stay in our rooms respectively unless it’s to use the bathroom or the kitchen.

To be honest, the first week was really hard in terms of building a communitas. In the workshops, we learned and discussed that a communitas was a group of people who are going through the same liminal experience as you. I came to London with a close friend and I wanted to branch out,  but it was kind of difficult. In our program, a lot of the kids came from one school and they were just extremely cliquey. That is not who I am. So it was my friend and I by ourselves for a while. Recently, we met a set of people we really connected with and everything is going well. I just have to manage some of the big personalities. I can understand where Slimbach talks about communitas being a double edged sword. I love my group, but I can see the problem people in it. They have these personalities that give me second-hand embarrassment and I honestly have no time for that.  Slimbach states, “Until we’re able to actually risk new ways of thinking and behaving, our general well-being and field learning are likely to be hindered.” (Slimbach 160)  I agree with that quote in its entirety. My biggest weakness is getting out of my comfort zone. I like to stick to me and what I know. It is like whenever I try, my life goes “nope nope nope”. I’m still going to try though.  

I think my strategy for the rest of this trip is a phrase I used to implement  during orientation with the freshman over the summer. The phrase was “Let’s get weird”. I’m here at this new school with a new set of people. I need to make the most of it. Even though stepping out of my comfort zone is such a challenge, I’m going to overcome it and turn it into a strength for me.