The workshop gave me a very clear beginning to my journey abroad. As we discussed the various aspects of Arnold can Gennep’s Rites of Passage theory, one notion that brought to attention was the of rites of passage as ceremonies which accompany every stage in life. I think this very clear analytical understanding of myself and the journey I am about to embark on will allow me to adapt a lot more easily than those who are no taking the course. In my preparations, I’ve found myself trying to mentally connect what I am physically doing to what we had learned about in the workshop. I’ve come to see my formal “rite of separation” as a New Year’s party the night before my flight where I will see all of my friends for the last time. Another concept that struck me during the workshop was the emphasis on writing as a means of reflecting on and remembering key details of a situation. Perhaps it was the gift of two journals from my roommates that has reinforced this idea but I can see the benefit of documenting this extraordinary excursion.
I picked up on a lot of useful concepts in the Slimbach reading which related back to the Rites of Passage workshop. One that particularly stood out to me was “The entertainment, food, and fashion industries are becoming more standardized, but without dissolving inherited tastes and traditions.” (Slimbach, 10) This relates to my predicted struggles with liminality. I’ve always thought that this new culture would be a stark contrast to what I am used to, however I have come to realize that not only is the British culture very similar to the American culture, but also that the influence of the American culture has crossed international borders. I’m sure that there will be little creature comforts that will be my dismay as I adjust, however going to a country so similar allows me to have a much easier time adjusting. Some people have asked me if I am giving myself enough of a challenge by choosing a culture that relates so closely to my own. To them I say that a move across the country will be a culture shock, so a trip across the pond should be one too. I will face a lot of the same struggles that my communitas will however I will have an advantage without a language barrier or a drastically different culture. In addition, I’ll be able to experience those same challenges as I travel around Europe during my April break.
Another part of the Slimbach reading that resonated with me was “Students and educators alike are searching for deeper, more meaningful intercultural experiences that respond to the world’s novel fusions, as well as its persistent confusions.” (2010, p.14) This made me think back to the Reflective Practice workshop where we talked about the different parts of critical thinking: Affect, Behavior, and Cognition. The Slimbach passage refers to the difference between being a tourist in a place and studying in a new place. When we study in a new place, we are piecing these areas together; creating a whole picture of what we are experiencing. I think this is a key difference in why I chose to study in London. Millions of people visit London every year, however by living there I will see an entirely new side that tourists skip over. I will make sense of the vast, dense environment that makes up the metropolis of London.
The travelogue I’ve chosen to read is “Dispatches from England: An American Family Spends 3 Years Living in England” by Nicole Wiltrout. As stated by the title, the book talks about the similarities and differences between American life and English life from the viewpoint of a mother. For three years, the mother wrote a weekly column for Anglotopia.net and now it has been compiled into a book. I found the description to be very similar to what we are doing with these travel logs. Though we will only be in England for five months I think the comparison of a three-year stay will give a much greater perspective on what a full incorporation would be like. I believe this book reflects when Slimbach says “Carrying knowledge conveys a curious and concerned self, one who cares enough about the peoples and places in one’s destination country to invest the time learning about them”. (2010, p.128) Wiltrout invests in England by talking about every facet of life there in her column, some of which that I might not get the privilege of learning about first hand. With her book, she will be my guide when aspects of British life confuse me.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.
Wiltrout, Nicole. Dispatches from England: An American Family Spends 3 Years in England. Anglotopia, LLC, 2016. Kindle for Mac.