When I was 16 years old, I took a trip that changed my life forever. Until that point, I had only left the country once for a trip to Montreal, Canada. So this trip was something completely new and out of my comfort zone; I was going to be spending a week in London, England with my mother. I was experiencing so many things for the first time like getting a passport and flying to another continent, and I was so excited. I have always been a curious person, and I’ve always had an intense feeling of wanderlust. This is also probably one of the reasons why I’m a journalism major. Going to London was something I had always wanted to do and after being there, a fire was ignited in me that I don’t think will ever be extinguished.
I’m from New York City, and as a result I have always felt more comfortable in urban environments and I am not intimidated by the chaos that sometimes comes with being in a big city. So when I arrived in London, I felt completely comfortable as though I was still at home. I could take the subway or walk almost anywhere; there were
bright lights and so many diverse people, just like the city I grew up in. But at the same time, London is so different from New York and I grew more and more enamored with the city at every turn. It was on my trip that I decided that I would come back to London, one way or another.
When I was looking at colleges, it came to my attention that study abroad was a really realistic option to help accomplish my dreams of traveling and seeing as much of the world as I can. One of the reasons why I applied to QU was because of the opportunities afforded to students to study abroad. I think studying abroad provides such a unique experience because I look at it as the closest a person can get to living in a country without actually moving there full-time. You are technically a visitor and a tourist, but at the same time you are going to a university in your host city and sometimes you even live in an apartment building and really immerse yourself in the community and the culture. This, to me, makes the experience of traveling so much more meaningful and makes a trip much more memorable than just going to famous landmarks and spending a couple of nights in a hotel.
This connects to my growing knowledge of traditional Rites of Passage theory and how it will affect my study abroad experience. I think viewing my study abroad experience as a rite of passage will help make my experience feel more meaningful and help me reflect on my experience in a more constructive way than if I was going without using that lens. For example, we talked about how most students just say they had an “awesome experience” studying abroad and cannot explain in detail the things they did and the real experiences they had. But by using this rite of passage lens, I will be able to be more reflective and fully understand the transformation I am going through on this journey and how I really am changing as a person.
A quote from Wilfred A. Peterson is one that I am going to use as a “motto” of sorts going into this study abroad experience. He says, “Go forth seeking adventure. Open your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart, your spirit and you’ll find adventure everywhere”. I think one of the most important things that will help me through this experience and help me overcome some of the liminal challenges that I will face is remaining open-minded and willing to step out of my comfort zone to try new things. My goals for study abroad are to explore as much as I can and learn as much as I can from my new environment and the people I meet. I think this will make studying abroad the best adventure and the most enlightening experience I’ve had so far in my life.