In the first 5 minutes in my host country I was unexpectedly separated from my best friend, was put into a cab with a driver that didn’t speak English and was thrown into an apartment with 6 other unknown roommates. Needless to say, I was WAY more overwhelmed than I had originally anticipated.
When speaking about my separation process, I feel as though I had a harder time separating than I thought I would. Physically I am in my host culture, but on the third day into the trip I felt like I was mentally at home. “A foreign country is not designed to make us comfortable; it is designed to make its own people comfortable” (Slimback, 153). Seeing your best friends from the United States move into Quinnipiac Housing, trying to run a business and deal with constantly being lost and not knowing the language… got old fast.
The Sunday that we went to see The Piazza de Michael Angelo, I felt reality hit. When I stepped out of the cab and saw the view of the city I realized just how stuck I am. I thought about the people surrounding me, the tourism of the city, the seven girls I was going to be spending the next four months with… and I just felt shocked. I realized how I am a liminoid and that I have no control about what going to happen for the rest of 2016. After some thought and observation though, I suddenly became at ease and have felt at rest since then.
The communitas around me seem to be struggling just as I am. I find that some are faring better than others, some thinking about flying home, and some lost with no map. My strength of going with the flow and not worrying about becoming lost has certainly helped my encounter with the new culture and way of life. Other students who are nervous seem to let that overcome their personal happiness and prohibit them from enjoying their time in the host country.
The purpose of challenges within liminality is to help broaden our horizon, heighten our awareness and push us to the next transitional step. The biggest challenge thus far is traveling with such a large group. This is more than an individual problem, but a group issue. Planning trips, navigating the train station, moving around Florence and disagreeing with people about which way to turn… every step seems to be a new adventure. I have learned that sometimes it’s easier to let others take control even if we do get lost. I have discovered that I am way more of a laid back person than I had once thought and I found that walking by oneself throughout the city can be 10x more enjoyable than being with other people. Being in a big group prohibits us from finding ourselves and becoming comfortable in the culture. It’s almost as if we are in an American bubble.
I feel as though when in an unknown place people tend to stick with others that are going through the same experiences. Because of this, I feel as though it is too early into the trip to be able to analyze how I am forming a close-knit and supportive friend group. Most everyone is unknown and trust takes time.
The skyline photo to the right best depicts my journey to date because it is the photo I took when I stepped out the taxi and found myself swamped with emotions. The neutral colors in this photo represent how I feel at ease and calm in my host country now, the photo itself portrays my behaviors because it was taken at the exact time I was coming to terms with my present scenario and all of the tightly packed buildings represent my thoughts. I find myself now excited to book other trips, get a feel for the culture and dive into my time abroad. I have a million different emotions surrounding me and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.