Hi! My name is Ran Bonitz and I am a junior here at Quinnipiac University in the Entry Level Master’s Physician Assistant Program. I am from Huntington, New York, and will be spending my spring semester in Barcelona, Spain. I have been dreaming about studying abroad ever since my cousin spent eight months in New Zealand over ten years ago. I have been lucky enough to travel extensively with my family since I was a child. When traveling, we have always made sure to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of the country in which we are traveling. My family always makes sure to take advantage of
the beauty of the differences between different cultures and us, like be eating fermented shark to become “Vikings” in Iceland. I have learned that traveling is not just about seeing the sights, but also about experiencing the local communities and learning from them. With this knowledge, I knew that studying abroad would be the perfect opportunity for me. I want to experience everything Spanish culture has to offer, which would be quite a feat if I can manage to do so in a mere four months. Life is too short to be spent in one place, and I hope that my time abroad will help me to appreciate this and the world around me even more.
Choosing Spain was not a difficult decision for me. I have been taking Spanish language and culture classes since I was in seventh grade, and have been fascinated by the country ever since. Spain has countless beautiful cities, each with its own unique feel. I hope that by the end of this experience I become more comfortable with my Spanish, as it will be extremely useful to be as I enter the world as a Physician Assistant in just four years. When I graduate from graduate school I hope to move abroad and work as a medical professional without boarders. I know that this cultural experience will prepare me for that transition as well.
Learning about Rites of Passage is already making my study abroad transition much easier. Understanding that the transition will take time and is not a perfect science has given me some peace of mind. I now appreciate the importance of having a mentor to ease the transition into Spanish culture. Previously I had thought that I would guide myself through my time abroad, and that I would learn through experience. I may be an open-minded and adventurous individual, but having someone to guide you through this very drastic transition will be necessary. Being surrounded by communitas will help ease this transition as well because of the fact that we are all experiencing this new culture together for the first time. The lessons we learn about Rites of Passage during this class will make my time abroad much easier and enjoyable.
One of my favorite quotes from Slimbach (p. 5) reads, “The very act of moving from one place to another helps create a space where we can bump up against strangeness and reexamine some of the settled assumptions we hold regarding the world –- and ourselves.” This quote demonstrates the exact mindset that I must accept before departing for my time abroad. It is essential to remember where we came from, while still immersing ourselves in the culture of our host country. Although their way of life may be different from ours, acceptance and appreciation is key to becoming a global citizen.