As my departure date creeps closer I have begun to reflect on the time I left the safety of my life in the house I grew up in to attend college. As freshman we were not allowed to pick our roommates, which made me very uneasy. All my friends from home had found their roommates on Facebook, met them, and had begun to bond with them. I somehow felt behind. However, I am very grateful to Quinnipiac for having this rule because without it, I may not have met my best friend, Erin. I have truly never known college without her by my side. We became fast friends and have been roommates ever since. Now I am leaving the safety of my Quinnipiac life and have to say goodbye to my best friend for a semester. I have to learn to separate from my life here in order to start a new one abroad. Slimbach described the theory of separation when stating that, “In order to make fair and illumination comparisons between cultures, we must temporarily suspend our largely inherited values and beliefs without flaunting or renouncing them”. (2010, 164) When completing the separation letter brainstorm exercise during the workshop I thought about various ways to separate in a healthy way. I do not want to forget my home community but I may need to distance myself from it.
Instead of writing a goodbye letter I decided to write a serious of letters for all the times that I won’t be able to be there in person. I saw her for the last time before I leave a couple days ago where she read the letter which read “Open the last time we are together” on the envelope. Throughout my life I have found that I like to communicate through letters, especially for conversations that are particularly difficult. I like to make sure that I say everything I wanted to say, that nothing is left out due to poor timing or faulty memory. Watching her read the letter I felt sad that I could not take my best friend on this adventure with me. However, the conversation afterward was quite productive. We discussed possible times to FaceTime and other ways to keep in touch. We both know we won’t be able to talk everyday, but one a week when we are walking to class would be nice. Although this is goodbye for now, it is not goodbye forever.
However, I still needed to have a similar conversation with my mother. I bit the bullet and had the conversation with her. She was very understanding and although we both knew it would be hard we would still find time to keep in touch with each other, even being in different time zones. Luckily I have had some practice separating from my mom and already have a model on how to do this in a healthy way. A healthy separation will allow me to truly immerse myself in the study abroad experience to truly learn what it means to be an Australian. After each of these goodbyes I feel ready to separate from my life in the United States, as I do not feel anything is holding my back from separating in a healthy way.
My sister often jokes that my study abroad trip will be successful as long as I survive the plane ride. However, to me a successful study abroad trip would be to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, to open myself up to the unknown. I am one who likes to have everything planned out; during my study abroad experience I would want to my “go with the flow” character traits. Therefore, I will be able to overcome expected and unexpected challenges. Every journey teaches one something about themselves and I am interested to learn what lesson my study abroad journey will bring. I look forward to embrace the diversity of my new home.
Although these two goodbyes were particularly difficult, they both left me feeling closer to the other person. I choose this picture of Erin and I as it was taken the last time we were together. She said, “Even though I’ll miss you you’re going to have the time of your life”. To me that’s truly what a healthy separation represents. I will be weak as I will miss those whom I have left behind in the states; however, I will be strong because I know wherever I am they will always support me. I will be able to let go old traditions in order to make room for new ones. As Winnie the Pooh once said “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” and I guess I should feel extra lucky to have two.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.