Throughout our time abroad, we have all grown in more ways than we had originally expected. I think the biggest topic of growth that we all have experienced is “finding our true self”. On page 53 of Becoming World Wise, Slimbach starts his discussion about our ‘real journey in life’. Before studying abroad I never put that much thought into a life journey. When you separate these two terms, life = phases of physical growth and journey = travel, they mean completely different things. When putting them together as “life journey” it gives emotion and feeling to the simple term ‘life’. After being abroad, I have realized that our life journey is within, and being able to travel only brings us miles deeper within ourselves.
The quote “if we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54) expresses how traveling is much more than the places we have been, but more about the impact that each of these places have had on us. Global travel not only widens our horizons, but also takes us into new parts of ourselves that we have yet to discover. Slimbach touches upon the necessity of putting ourselves at risk. If we never put ourselves at risk, how much would we have really grown throughout our time abroad? I find that every time I get to do something out of my comfort zone, whether it is talking to a native in a foreign language or trying to figure out public transportation on a weekend trip, I grow. Doing small things like these brings individuals confidence and experience. I feel as though because I have been actively participating in each culture I visit, I have become a global citizen. The understanding and acceptance for views and people of another upbringing is something that is hard for many to grasp. After spending the past four months in Europe, I feel as though I have been able to make many global connections, not only on an internal basis with cultures, but actual connections with the people surrounding me. On a weekend trip in Switzerland, I actually made friends with a few people from Australia. After the trip was over and I was back in Florence, we stayed in contact and eventually met up again at the end of the semester when they decided to come and visit Italy! Going forward, I will continue to reach out to the people around me and even back in America, I will continue to grow as a global citizen.
As much as I hate to say it, the end is near. Starting to buy presents for my family and saying goodbye to my favorite places aren’t things that I am looking forward to. I first really connected with Florence on a run through the city one Tuesday morning. Knowing this significance, I think I’m going to set aside a big gap of time on my last week here to run through the streets, stop when I want to listen to the musicians, pop into some of my favorite shops and walk across the Ponte Vecchio.
For the past few weeks it’s been in the back of my head that my time here is about to expire. A few friends and I have made it a point to try all of the little restaurants that we have had our eye on for quite some time. When I walk home from class it’s easy for me to convince myself that we only have a week left and to of course, spend a euro on a different flavor of Gelato. These small things are what mean a lot in our host country and I feel as though by doing these types of activities I’m going to be doing a good job wrapping up my time abroad.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine. Reflecting on everything I have done over the past four months I realized that I was constantly wishing that my family was able to see and do everything that I was able to. I realized how much I learned and how much I have grown and could only wish that everyone takes the time to explore every part of themselves through travel.
Saying good-bye to Florence will be one of the harder things I’ve had to do in a while. Saying good-bye to home was hard, but I knew I would be coming back. Saying good-bye to Florence is much more. It’s saying bye to being young and carefree with our travels, its saying goodbye to all the new places and friends I’ve made, it’s closing a chapter in my life…and I’m not sure if I’m ready to flip the page.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.