Upon reflection of the Rites of Passage workshop, I realized many topics were discussed that I had not previously pondered when thinking about studying abroad. The concepts truly interested me; however, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the idea of tricksters. I had never thought of the negatives involved with study abroad, those that may interrupt the study abroad experience. Tricksters, however, seem to be an essential part of not only study abroad but also life. There will always be people, events, and challenges attempting to hinder one’s experience. Conversely, I enjoyed the idea of the communitas. Those that are going through the same experience become an extremely valuable resource when going through a situation. Therefore, those that are also studying abroad with me have become the communitas I can go to to overcome a difficult situation or avoid a trickster.
Moreover, Slimbach mentions many of the concepts of Rites of Passage theory. He mentions the importance of mentors to guide the liminoid through the experience on page 21. He “raises serious concerns about the depth and quality of learning, as well as the integrity of any assistance provided”. (2010, p. 21) If one does not have a mentor to properly guide them through the study abroad experience, they run the risk of not receiving the full education one may obtain. For example, if I did not have a mentor to properly guide me through my study abroad experience, I may not receive the full learning opportunity that I hopefully will when having a mentor. He also mentions the theory of communitas when he states, “when we do something with others-live with them, work or study alongside them-we become something together”. (2010, p. 18) I have previously experienced this when first enrolling at Quinnipiac. I lived with seven other girls who had also left their families and friends to come to a university where they knew no one. Through out that year living, studying, and learning together we all became close friends and leaned on each other in times of challenges or when encountering tricksters. Although our friendship has since dwindled I still think about that first year and the community I had made within our suite. Even though it was only for a short time, we had still formed our own communitas and gone through our own Rites of Passage. I hope to again form a communitas with those who are also studying abroad so we may again lean on each other in times of need.
Slimbach also addresses the struggle to reincorporate into one’s home community after living abroad for an extended period of time. After having this amazing experience and gaining a “new status”, how can one keep such a status when returning home? Some may not recognize the change they underwent while others may feel isolated. Slimbach refers to the advice he offers later in his book to those undergoing this challenge. I hope to later use his advice to reincorporate into my community at home and at Quinnipiac in a healthy way that does not diminish my “new status”. Slimbach sums up what I feel the rites of passage theory describes when he states, “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”. (2010, p. 17) I think Slimbach relates to these concepts quite eloquently and helps narrate how failing to utilize or overcome these models could be detrimental to my study abroad experience and learning.
I choose the novel In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson as my travelogue. I choose this book because I liked that his novel went “beyond the beaten path”. I was interested to read about his various adventures so that I might travel to the some of the same places he went to.
Bryson, Bill. In a Sunburned Country. New York: Broadway, 2000. Print.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.