It has been over a week within the culture and I believe my values and way of looking at the world are going to be forever changed. The Italian lifestyle is so drastic in comparison to the American way. During orientation they discussed the “honeymoon phase” as being a period in which we believe we are in Disneyland. The world around us is so new and exciting that we feel invincible and without responsibility. This lasted for about a week and I have begun to realize the actual accountability that it takes to live in a city in a foreign land with your roommates. I am mentally prepared to take on the city but the actual realization of how far away I am from all that is comforting is both scary and unpredictable. I cannot avoid the worry about something going wrong and not being able to acquire the assistance that is readily available in the states. With that being said, I find it exciting to think of all the memories and life changes I will go through over the next four months. The separation process has overall been relatively easy for me, I usually can avoid stress and worry so I anticipated an easy transition but with the honeymoon phase coming to a close and the realizations coming into focus, it doesn’t seem as easy as I originally anticipated.
The term “liminoid” is defined as neither being “here nor there” and I find this term as exceptionally well put. I have completely detached myself from the world back home by leaving and disconnecting (literally with cell phone access limited and leaving the country), and I now feel I am physically gone from my home and placed in Italy. Also I am not a member of Italian society, and especially with not being able to communicate or know my way around, I am literally the definition of a liminoid. Being a part of a communitas, however, is much more comforting. I find that by living with, interacting with and talking with those who are undergoing the same situation that I am able to talk out my problems and learn new tools for success. As Slimbach describes, I must not be emotionally dependent on these people because I would miss the experiences going on around me.
There are many different types of students that are attending ISI. Throughout my encounters with these people I have noticed multitudes of students that struggle with utilizing the communitas or failing to separate in a healthy way. Slimbach writes, “It is often the experiences that are most difficult that lead us to our deepest lessons, if only we can hold our emotional reactions” (Slimbach 163).This is the prime lesson someone may learn and we must observe and realize these issues. When this occurs we usually let them know they have support systems and try to explain the necessity for leaving the home life at home and enjoying the culture.
I believe my biggest challenge thus far is accepting the fact that there is no going home. Doctors, school, friends and family are so far and unreachable that you must accept this and make do with whatever comes your way. I have learned that I am much more flexible as well as much more intuitive. Ways I have defeated the paradoxical living is by surrounding myself with familiar activites but separating from Americans. I joined an Italian gym in order to make myself more comfortable because it is such a major part in my life I never could live without it.
The photo I chose is a young child looking around excited at Disney World. This expresses my emotions the passed week, before it settled in that I was here for four months. The affect of this scenario is making me think about ways to make life easier, and then leads to my behavior in acting upon those new ideas and methods.