Travel Log 6: “The Mindful Traveler” by Janine Jay. London, England

Yesterday I travelled down to Trafalgar Square to go to a Chinese New Year Festival. It was spectacular- all of Chinatown was decorated in paper lanterns and dancing dragons and lions to celebrate. There was a main stage with musical performers and acrobats. The entire scene took careful planning with shops, vendors, trinkets and such. Though it was raining fairly heavily the whole day, it was impossible not to be amazed by the spectacle. I particularly noticed as I was standing off to the side of the square, eating some noodles we bought from a truck nearby how the hosts of the show were trying to engage the audience in cheers. They would tell different sides of the crowd to cheer in a competition against each other, but were met with near silence from each side. Perhaps it was the fact that it was so cold and wet that people were too tired to, yet thousands shows up for the event. I became ever aware of the tradition of Chinese New Year. Was this how it was supposed to be celebrascreen-shot-2017-01-30-at-4-05-40-pmted? I was told this was one of the biggest celebrations outside of China, but why go to so much effort for an unenthusiastic crowd? It struck me that many of the people in attendance weren’t Chinese at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that many of them were tourists like myself- observing to see the tradition but really act as a spectator (and a consumer).

After leaving the mainstage of the festival I wandered into the shops of Chinatown, I mean how could you not when the smells coming out into the street beckon you like a finger? The people in the shops were smiling from ear to ear, showing us pastries and dishes with Chinese and English writing next to them. I couldn’t help but notice how modest the prices were compared to the price we had just paid for noodles out of the truck back in the main Square. I began to recall that the people working in those trucks didn’t look remotely Asian, which seemed preposterous at a Chinese festival. In our text, it says “Mindfulness compels us to stay cognizant of who actually gains and loses financially from our presence abroad. Beyond that, it urges us to take practical measures to maximize economic benefits to those typically left out of tourism development.” (Slimbach, pg. 86). I began to think the people that owned these shops weren’t getting nearly the same number of customers as those in the trucks. Was it mindless of me to eat what was available to me instead of thinking about where it had really come from?

Mindful traveler asks why to their surroundings. They follow the chain of how things came to be. A ‘carefree drifter’ or ‘mass tourist’ will simply take in their surroundings, take their photos, and contribute little back into their host society. The mindful traveler does research and learns as much as they can about how people live in the culture they are in. It teaches them to ask the right questions about what they are seeing and experiencing instead of taking in with a closed off image of “there” and “home”. This means that we gain little when we try to make a global community. We are simply taking from the host but not contributing to the community that is giving us so much. Our class defined global community as “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights.” I feel that we are remaining narrow minded when we observe from near or afar but do not analyze or take action in what we see. How can we fight for similar social values when we aren’t exactly clear on what those values are?

I observe my environment with a keen eye. I see how much effort is put into tourism and how that makes it very expensive for actual locals. I 100% believe that ‘mindful traveling’ or the practice of analyzing our surroundings when we travel is key to becoming a new generation of citizens working towards a global community. Personally, I plan on trying to interact with as many local people as I can, as well as observing what they like to eat and do for fun so that I can do the same instead of opting for the well-planned, tourist experiences that are planned out for me. This is quite difficult however due to the fact that with a culture so similar to my home culture, the aspects that make London so special have been heavily catered to tourists. The places like castles and museums I visit, I have learned that my British flat mates have never been to. Now I aim to figure out what it is they do with their time if not the things that I always categorized as ‘British’. This is also making me question if I have done most of the things that people visit my home for. I’ve personally never been to the Statue of Liberty, but should I? Should I try to act as a tourist in my own home? Or should I embrace everything that makes me an American?

Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.


Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between… so this is Liminality”By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Arriving in Budapest was a surreal experience. After months of planning and prepping I have finally arrived. On the flight in I expected to be able to witness some of the city from the skies, but the fog was to think. This metaphorically setup the fact that I would have to have some blind trust as I entered this experience. I had to respect the fact that I would be going into this experience blinded, and that I will end up safe and sound on the other end much for the better. Getting through customs was a breeze, which was comforting, and as I was a bit late in my arrival to the program I needed to arrange my own transportation to meet up with the group. This was my first experience separating myself from my culture. I grabbed a “minibud” which was essentially a van that would drop you off at a location. Because my driver did not speak much English I had to communicate brokenly and provide the location I wanted to go to with a picture of a map. Furthermore I had to have a better understanding of what the culture was as far as his aid with my luggage and door opening, there were frequently awkward silences and miscommunication as we each had vastly different cultural expectations.

Separating has been an interesting process, I still do not feel fully immersed here in the culture of Budapest. I think this is in large because I have a lot of familiar things to remind me of home. The fact that I came here with my roommate from Quinnipiac, while has been great to have a familiar face it has also allowed me to not force myself entirely out of my comfort zone yet. Granted I have been on the move for much longer than a lot of the other students here in my communitas. Currently I am writing this journal entry as he has gone out to visit another local city with a group of students, and in a week this will be the longest we have been separate. That is a weird concept as I was so used to being extremely independent in Guatemala, as well as at my home.

I can clearly feel my head-space being in the liminoid stage. Especially because I have already had a week from home. In between my two journey’s there was a short stop at Quinnipiac, and this acted almost as teaser of temptation for the familiarity that is home. I had few short sweet moments visiting with friends that would not be studying abroad and going out to breakfast at one of my favorite places, Breakfast Nook. Even being able to share a night with my girlfriend was a comfort, which just left me extremely conflicted internally. A large part of me just wanted to sink into the comfort that was home and stay there and have the easier experience. I know that it is better for me to experience this trip and go explore the world. I believe that once I get a chance to go to classes and find my own way around the city I will begin to enjoy myself more and more. As of right now anxiety and fear are pretty much the name of the game.

In large I have grown up with a lot of anxieties, usually revolving around social situations. I think that this experience will help me in handling these things. My anxiety has really come to the surface as one of my weaknesses in my immersion here. Especially considering I have an extremely social roommate, which is great because it makes it easier for me to meet a larger amount of people without feeling the pressure of creating these bonds on my own. At the same time this is a double edged sword because it causes my anxiety to kick in and make me believe that the friends we have made or only our friends because of who my roommate is and not who I am. While likely this is not the case it is simply that we have been spending time together as roommates and bonding, which of course leads us to be interacting with the same people. Logically that is more of the case and I would expect that as time goes on I will develop more personal relationships with some of the other students in the communitas in the area. I hope to utilize my classes as a location to socialize and interact on my own with other students and learn and grow this way.

Later today I plan on going for a walk around the city just wandering, utilizing public transport and going to different areas. I would like to discover places to eat, hang out, and explore. Doing this will be part of my strategy to begin to immerse myself into the culture and gain a better understanding of my own interests and part of the reason I came to the city. Originally I am from rural Connecticut, and being in the city in itself is a culture shock. I am more used to the mentality that if you walk places you are putting yourself in harm’s way and potentially could get hit by cars. Here in the city the only method of transport is either walking or public. This is exciting to me to be able to try this new thing and I hope that my solo missions through the city will give me more confidence in getting from place to place and just in general in the city. The picture I have chosen to represent my current emotions and feelings about this experience is one I took of a statue on top of the Citadella here in Budapest. I really like the contrast of the photo and how it looks so steadfast and independent. The statue is alone and that it is capable of
holding strong through adversity, and is symbolic of my aspirations. img_0503

Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” by Emily Drinkwater. Seville, Spain

Loa Tzu stated that, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I think this this quote reflects on how my study abroad experience has been thus far physically  and metaphorically. That being said I have physically traveled over a thousand miles; I have been living in Seville, Spain for a little over a week now flying out of Logan Airport in Boston but, apart from this in my journey I have taken different steps to adjust to my new environment. Let me elaborate for a second. Traveling to a new area on a vacation, you don’t need to necessarily adjust to the new environment because you’re a tourist. Either you’re traveling with family or friends you’re in your own personal bubble. Those are the people you have accompanied on this trip and those are the people you stick with. In those situations you don’t have to leave your comfort zone, in a sense you expect to be catered to, since technically you are a guest in that country. But when you are living in a new environment for an extended period of time the opposite occurs. In this case you are “told” to adapt to your new environment.


In Seville, Spain feeding pigeons and meeting new people through experiences I didn’t think I’d ever do.

Seville, Spain is not so different from the United States but at the same time it feels like another world away. When I landed in Madrid about a week ago it felt like I was walking around New York on a chilly fall afternoon. But when I paid more attention to the finer details I heard Spanish instead of English. This might not be a big deal to the people that understood Spanish but coming from someone that doesn’t know the language it’s hard to comprehend the feeling that you are utterly alone but surrounded by people at the same time. When looking around I saw the Spanish flag standing proud, the buildings were beautiful but it wasn’t the type of architecture found in the U.S and another big difference was the size of everything; downsized. The elevators were tiny and cramped, the staircases, the cars and the food portions were too but fortunately I already expected that to be the case since I have traveled to Europe before. Everyone talks about “culture-shock” when they travel to a new environment, but I didn’t feel any different. I think this was due to the fact I have traveled to Europe before as well as a Spanish speaking country. I was able to put two separate travel experiences together in my head to have a sense of what I was getting myself into and luckily I was right.

That being said, entering into the liminality status has not been as easy as I was expecting it was going to. I thought I was going to make friends right off the bat and have the time of my life from the get go but that hasn’t been the case. There have been several challenges I have been faced with already and it has only been a little over a week. For starters the Spanish culture is very different to the American culture. For example the Spanish tend to be very direct when speaking almost to the point of rude from our perspective, they don’t say excuse me unless they have already trampled you when walking by, they eat dinner around 9 or 10pm every night and then go out clubbing till 5 in the morning, they drink all day, close there shops everyday from 2-4pm for siesta (basically to take a break of nap) and they don’t work on Sunday since it is considered a Holy Day. It is also a widely known area to get pick pocketed, so not only am I trying to learn and practice my Spanish, adapt to the lifestyle without sticking out as an American (which is hard to do with blonde hair) but also watch my bags and pockets more carefully then I ever thought possible. But Slimbach stated, “someone who is outgoing and ever ready to try something new is likely to fare better in stressful situations than an introvert and culturally cautious perfectionist (Slimbach 155).” I think that statement is accurate for my experiences, I consider myself an extrovert and opened to everything been thrown my way. Even with all these challenges I’ve faced which includes trying to find a communita. I realized the first group were trickers and a bunch of cliquey girls, but a few days later I finally found my communita where we can all travel on this journey together and finally see the world through new eyes with this once in a lifetime experience.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

“Quotes About Travel (2093 Quotes).” (2093 Quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.

Travel Log 4: “Study Abroad… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park.” Meghan Thorogood. Florence, Italy

The past few weeks in Florence have been abnormally cold for this region. High winds have made temperatures feel even colder than they are and flurries have caused an uproar throughout the streets. We feel this cold weather at all times, due to heating restrictions. However, leaving my apartment for class one day last week, I noticed something was different. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face as soon as I stepped outside. I was overheating in my scarf and gloves, which once provided me comfort as I walked through the city. I noticed others leaving their apartments for work, school, or just a day out, and noticed their happy facial expressions when they realized the cold was finally gone.


I had no intention of going on my walk that day, but with no afternoon classes and beautiful weather I couldn’t resist. With the cold out and the warm in, the streets of Florence transformed. Usually, when I walked through the Piazza’s on my way to class not many people were out. Now, the streets are packed. Couples stroll along the Arno River hand in hand, and friends sit in outside cafes catching up with one another. Throughout my walk, I saw a women singing or men playing the violin in almost every square. Families are out enjoying the day, and kids are playing games. It felt like I was in an entirely new city. Although I am still walking through the same history filled streets, the atmosphere completely changed.


According to Slimbach, “walking is a great teacher”and I could not agree more. As I walk around more and more each day, I have gradually become more comfortable living here. I am getting lost less, I notice familiar faces when I walk, and have begun to actually run into people that I know. The city used to feel enormous, now it feels like a little home. Moments such as finding a little, hidden cafe or having a conversation with a local as we wait for our drinks have helped me see Florence as MY city, not a tourist destination. I have become accustomed to the different way of life here. I now know many places are closed in the afternoon between 1 and 3, I know I should always be aware of pickpockets, and that you don’t have to tips, just to name a few.


The travelogue I decided to read was Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes.  In this travel log, Mayes talks about her husband’s infidelity and their divorce, which ultimately ends in her taking a trip to Italy and never returning home. During her trip the tour group she is traveling with stops in a quaint, little town. Here, Mayes notices an ad for a old villa that is for sale. Coincidentally, the next day the tour bus she is on stops right in front of this villa. It is then when she decides to get off the bus and ends up purchasing the old, run down place which changes her life forever. This travel log does not only talk about the beauty of Italy, but it covers some key factors about moving abroad. Mayes has to persevere through language barriers, kindle friendships, and find her own kind of family in Italy.


I am happy I chose this travel log because I felt as though I could relate to her journey on a personal level. Although we did not take the same paths to Italy, we both ended up calling this beautiful country our home. As I read, I felt I could identify where she was in her Rites of Passage process. However, what I liked the most about this travel log is how she made her own family in her new home. I related to this because family is a big part of my life, and it feels weird not having them here with me. It is difficult moving to a new country without any family to surround yourself with. However, I feel myself becoming closer with the group of friends I have and I think that is most important when trying to adapt to any new culture, just as Mayes did.

I chose to share a picture of my little Italian family because I think it best describes my emotions throughout my walk. It reminds me that the majority of us started as strangers, but now I couldn’t imagine life without them and reminds me just how lucky I am to experience this journey with them.



Works Cited.
Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy. New York: Broadway, 1997. Print.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

I can taste the salt in the air as the moody sea breeze blows my hair out of its already-messy style. I focus on breathing on the rhythm of my steps as the sun hits my shoulders and forehead, and I weave around the skateboarders, bicyclists, walkers, and families on the pathway parallel to the beach. Since I have settled into my new home in the Gold Coast, I have attempted to immerse myself into the active culture ever so present on Broadbeach. Embracing my inner Maureen McGranaghan, I have found that my daily jogs throughout this new city has opened my eyes to the minute details I would have otherwise missed while on the tram or the bus (Slimbach).

In light of last week’s assignment, I decided to hone in on my observations and explore a bit while on one of my runs. Although this was something I had previously noted, it is an observation I find necessary to bring up. Because of the nature of the States versus Australia, the streets run in different directions, the driver’s seat is on a different side, and escalators rise and fall on the opposite side. This makes it easy to stand out as an outsider, when walking on the wrong side of the stairs or on the wrong side of the sidewalk. In the first few minutes of my run, I noted to keep left, in the hopes of limiting my disruption to the ‘norm.’

Another observation I found was the sheer increase in the number of active people out and about. Not only was an extremely wide range of age represented, from the elderly to toddlers, but also a fair share of different physical activities were going on all around me. Someone was washing the sand off of his surfboard at a beach entrance. Another was a dad, running alongside his son as he slowly learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. The park was full of games of touch, rugby, and cricket, while picnics of bystanders cheered on the informal teams. Rollerbladers, scooters, and parents running with baby carriages in front of them is just the tip of the iceberg in the diversity of activity.

I also noted that many people do not find the use of shoes to be necessary. This is not just along the beach area, but throughout the main city as well. I see the displays of tattoos, ranging from full sleeves to smaller and simpler designs. Almost everyone I make eye contact with will smile, or even ask me “how are you going?” (a commonly used term similar to “how are you doing?”). I note the everpresent scent of sunscreen, a constant reminder of the lack of ozone, and can feel the rough stones of the sidewalk against my feet as I try and go barefoot after my run. On my way back from my run, I see a young man and woman intertwining the stems of a few flowers they had picked into the wires of the fence that separates the sidewalk from the sand dunes. I have noticed this section of the fence before, as there always seems to be one or two vibrant flowers among many that have dried up and become brittle. I keep an eye out for this man and woman on my runs now, but since my reflective jog, I have just seen the addition of another new and dead flower to the collection.

Aside from the tiny details, running around Broadbeach seems to have allowed me to join an underlying community within the city: a community of people falling along the entire spectrum of ‘active,’ in which everyone is attempting to absorb as much of the beach air as possible. Just the other day, on Australia Day, three casual bicyclists threw me a high five as we passed each other, and a few other speed walkers and joggers exchanged a friendly “g’day” or “keep it up” as we embraced the Aussie sunshine. Although that is the extent of the verbal communication exchanged, I can already sense the sheer amount that this quiet community will support me, and vice versa.

The beauty of public transport, I have found, is the opportunity to converse with locals around me to get to know them as individuals, and to get to know more about the Gold Coast. Although some people wear headphones while riding, I have found that my 25 minute ride can prove to lead to an extremely fruitful conversation of which both of us grow. Especially with the inauguration as of late, many locals are intrigued once they hear my accent and deduce that I am from the States and not Canada. This exchange not only allows for the increase in my knowledge of local history (5), but also food services (4), current affairs (6), and social etiquette (7) (Slimbach). My bus conversations have ranged from getting a list of local burger joints to discussing the variances of gun control policies in the States versus Oz. I have also optimized the lifts (elevators) to engage in these brief, yet beneficial, conversations. Because the majority of the buildings I utilize on the Gold Coast are skyscrapers, and stairs are only allowed for use in the event of a fire, waiting for and riding on the lifts leaves for a great excuse to strike up a conversation.

The travelogue I selected, Keep Australia on Your Left, is rather interesting, because it details the journey of two men and their mission to kayak around the entirety of Australia. This has been a joy to read, but it is harder to relate my journey thus far to it. Upon reflection, I believe that the challenges faced by the author throughout his journey can symbolize some of the challenges that I have/ will face(d). The challenges that I am certain will come my way are in no means as physically grueling or scary, but evoke similar emotions in my rites of passage experience as Stiller and Tony went through.


The image above is of the flowers that I pass by on my daily runs. I find it symbolic of our journey as we go abroad, and in our lives altogether when viewing them through the scope of rites of passage. We go through each separation, and then we experience the sheer newness in ultimate vibrancy. Right now, as liminites, we resemble the pink hibiscus. Our heightened awareness allows for us to absorb everything around us. Eventually, as we go through the rites of reincorporation and then again the rites of separation, the vibrancy of our abroad experience will fade, but will still be a crucial member of our collective experiences that create who we are.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

“You see it long before you get to it-shimmering towers of glass and concrete rising beside the sea and snaking off down the coastline to a distant, hazy vanishing point” (Bryson 197).  This quote from Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country is about Surfers Paradise, only a 15 minute tram ride from me.  What he describes is what I see every time I walk back to the hotel I now call my home.  I live in one of the tallest buildings in Broadbeach and I find myself gazing up at the building whenever I’m on the street.  I can’t help but admire its location and enjoy the luck I have in getting to call it home.

In a Sunburned Country is about three separate trips Bryson took to Australia.  What I enjoyed the most about reading it was that Bryson included historical facts about the locations he visited as well as his personal opinions.  He shared his experiences with the locals and how he felt about each place.  It was interesting to read what he wrote about the place I currently reside in.  “People outside Queensland will tell you that the gold coast is rife with unsavory elements” (Bryson 197).  Bryson thought it was beautiful but very developed, which is true.  In total he spent all of 3 pages on the gold coast, which I’ll admit was slightly disappointing to see how irrelevant he felt it was to his experience as a whole.

Walking around Australia is so similar, yet so different than the states.  Bryson actually refers to the Gold coast as “Australia’s Florida” (Bryson 197).  I spend a lot of time exploring the city around my apartment.  Coming here I was aware that that Australians drove on the left side of the road, but seeing as I wouldn’t be driving I didn’t think it would affect me much.  I was definitely wrong in that it changes the flow of pedestrian traffic too.  I find myself often getting tripped up while walking because here people also pass on the left side.  It’s been engraved in my head for so long to always walk on the right side that I constantly have to remind myself not too.  It also became so important when crossing the street.  We automatically look left and this has caused a lot of my friends to almost walk in front of cars.

One of the big things I heard coming here and that Bryson echoes is that “Australians are always nice” (Bryson 84).  On my walks I found this to be mostly true, but not hugely different from the atmosphere back home.  People would stop to engage in conversation if I made the effort and approached them but otherwise people usually were focused on their own affairs.  There were a few occasions were this “extra niceness” was showcased.  At the bus stop I got into a particularly engaging conversation with a couple who were interested in hearing all about my experiences in Australia so far.


The picture above is a view of the sunrise from the beach near my apartment.  Out of all the walks I’ve taken this was by far my favorite.  The streets were quiet but there were still a handful of other people who had ventured out at 4:30am to admire the sunrise.  Sometimes I think too much and I have a problem shutting everything off and just enjoying my surroundings.  I don’t know if it was the tiredness but I had no problem just forgetting everything else and enjoying the moment.  Simbach writes “Expect the orientation period to reveal only the first steps toward this end” (Simbach).  The sunrise in this picture is like my journey.  I’m no longer in the orientation phase but everything is still so new.  The possibilities for my journey are just starting and they’re already so bright

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.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia


Life on the Gold Coast can be slightly different than the lives we are used to in the United States. Since the first day I arrived here, I have been waking up early and walking around my neighborhood, Broadbeach. The Gold Coast is massive, and goes as far as the eyes can see in both directions. While I am acclimated to my neighborhood, I wanted to see an area called Surfer’s Paradise, which is a 40-minute walk to the North. I followed my usual path that goes along the beach, watching and scanning the area around me.

The heat was beating down on me, and I could feel a sunburn quickly developing. As I looked to my right, there were little paths that led to such a clear and clean beach. The gentle wind would sweep over the ocean and bring that salt-water smell, giving me a refreshed feeling as I walked along the path.

The most interesting thing for me during the walk was watching the locals. The biggest things for me are steps seven and nine. They call for us to pay attention to “social etiquette” and the “do’s and don’ts”. The culture and social norms are incredibly different here compared to the United States. Most stores besides the restaurants and bars close around five o’clock, but people start flocking to the bars much earlier. People passing me on the beach were ranging in multiple different social cultures. Men and women of all ages were carrying a surfboard, with a majority of them being much older than one would expect. I have also noticed that people aren’t as self-conscious as we are in America. Everyone walks around with confidence and little care for what people think about them. People have long hair, multiple tattoos and body piercings. It is something that would be considered a rebellious or challenging a social norm.

I feel as though walking down the streets did teach me a lot. I watched how the locals didn’t care about what they were doing, or how they appeared to others. They did what made them happy. I know that is something that is preached in the United States, but out on the streets everyone is actually conscious of what is going on. Here in Australia, you just do what makes you happy, and not worry about everything happening around you.

The walks have also taught me different aspects to Australian life like where to be on a beach. Because of rips, currents and sharks, the beaches here are set up so the lifeguards to watch over everyone. Walking around, I’ve found that you need to stay swimming in between these red flags so the lifeguards can see you. Outside of those flags are the surfers, who have to stay away because a crash can hurt someone. It has also helped me adjust to how they drive on the other side of the road, and which way to look when we cross the street. While these all seem like minor details, it can really flip your world upside-down when you are in a new country.

Walking around the city every morning is something that is very important to me. As I walk, I start to feel as though I understand the people a little bit more each time. I’m not going to learn what it is like to be Australian just by sitting in a classroom, I need to be out there and experiencing their world. A common and cliché phrase one will often here is “You need to walk in someone else’s shoes.” I feel as though me getting up and trying to immerse myself in local culture is the closest thing to walking in the locals’ shoes.


Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” by Steven Schnittger Lugano, Switzerland

Well, it has been a crazy first week here and Lugano and I really am falling in love with the place. Ignoring the nausea from the plane ride I could tell from the get go that this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Every street I turn down looks like it would make for the perfect post card home. I am thrilled to be here but I really don’t think I have fully separated from home yet, and I am not sure if I ever will.

I would say that mentally I am 80% in Lugano and 20% back home, thinking about my girlfriend and my family. Sometimes I get jealous of the people that went and studied abroad before technology and weren’t always concerned with constant communication (or online courses). However, having some communication home is healthy and I am able to recognize that it puts my loved ones at ease knowing I am safe and sound and I did realize that this is what the separation process would be like. It also helps to be busy, this way I don’t feel any guilt for not answering texts, I can be involved in what I am doing, and I have something to talk about when I am texting whoever. I really do feel at my best when I am busy and concentrated at the task at hand because I can be an overthinker and I would much rather be doing something.

The communitas here at Franklin has truly been great. Everybody made friends with everybody else in the orientation group and it really makes it easy to find people to do things with. I know after the first night several students wanted to go home because the flight here was horrible and the first day was way too busy, but other people in the group were able to talk them out of it and now it appears everybody is having a good time. I do think I picked a great group of kids to be a part of communitas with as they want to travel and do things rather than sit in their rooms, something that seems some four year students here are interested in, and we already did a 10 mile hike and have gone and seen parts of town that other students haven’t. One of my big fears with the group is doing to much and not taking advantage of what Lugano has to offer, because they do hope to travel every weekend. I’ll be sure to give myself time to think and analyze where I am at but I am more than happy staying as busy as possible for the first week or so, I really want to make sure I am thrown into the culture of Lugano.

There were several challenges that I faced on the way here, and like some of the other students I considered going home on that first night. What it really came down to though was travel anxiety. I hated everything about the flight and the thought of having no control was terrifying for me. That first night I could not imagine going and traveling to all these places because I would have to walk, run, or bike there in order to make it without having a panic attack. This is very uncharacteristic of me and up until a few days before going I didn’t even consider it. I think this will be a major obstacle to overcome for me in the coming months and it is something I hope I can conquer.

Like I said above, I am really trying to involve myself with the Lugano culture. The best way to do this so far has been going out to eat, which is exciting by itself, but talking to waiters and seeing how other people act while we are there has been a great experience. I love standing in a spot and doing some people watching, it is strange to see how different people act in this city versus New York City. One thing I can’t wait for is the weather to warm up so I can start running. My Italian professor told the class about these little old ladies who go out for their morning walks before 9:00 every morning and they are the best people to talk to because they are patient and yearning for someone to communicate with. So I will try to get out as often as I can to talk to these women and hear some stories, and the running won’t hurt either.


This is the view from the top of the 10 mile hike me and my communitas did. I was happy to have these friends, I thought about what a good time I would have if this was so close to wear I live, and I felt exhausted from walking the trails all day.

TL 11: Half the Sky by Mazel Genfi, London, England

Half The Sky was an eye opener and explaining it to others started a conversation that I’ve never had a lot. The documentary showed a lot of things to the treatment of women. It showed stuff people are still struggling to accept: that women are oppressed.  The documentary showed that women potential is usually taken away before they even reached their prime.  Most of the oppression, comes from the centuries old thought that women are inferior to men. Young women going to school is a rarity and families rather them learn to domestic work or even sex work to bring remittances back home. Other communities even still practice female genital mutilation, a practice that has dire consequences to those who participate in it.It was stated in the documentary that females are being treated as second-class citizens. Females are seen with no value and forced to reap the consequences from it.

The information that was provided made me thing even broader about my privileges.  It is powerful to hear the facts of how women are oppressed around the world because it sheds light on how half of the population is treated. Women In some cases, they are risking their lives to give young girls and women a chance to have a future when the odds are against them. This documentary raises awareness of the injustices that occur in the world and as sad as it is, it is necessary and fundamental to see this and understand the concepts that are being discussed. This raises awareness to the fact that the greatest challenge in empowering women is breaking the stereotypes that have been established, women have perpetuated most of which.

The story that touched me the most and made me think critically was the story about the Indian Brothel.It talked about how the caste system still plays a big role in Indian society especially in the world of prostitution. Even though despair was a theme in it, there was a sense of hope involved. Susimita life was already determined because of her mother’s profession, but her mother was trying to change that so she can receive an education.With the proper support, She was able to change that and stop herself into getting into a lifestyle that wasn’t the best for her.  Even though there aren’t a lot of girls who are fortunate like Susimita, her situations creates a precedent for them as a result of this opportunity. Throughout the movie, we see the progress and growth in Sushmita’s education. And. as we see that progress, we see the hope and optimism beginning to glow on her face.

This documentary really made me think about what I have as a person. As much as we Americans fight for the equality of women in our nation, other women do not have that privilege at all. I am blessed to have an education and have the opportunity to break gender norms and barriers. Not all girls are in that situation. It hurts my heart to know that as much as we think that the world is developing, it really isn’t. Realizing this makes me want to do something about it or try to help the cause of education of women.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad… It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park.” Ryan Bonitz. Barcelona, Spain.

My comfort when it comes to navigating Barcelona has improved drastically since arriving here just three weeks ago. During orientation, our affiliate program took us on a panoramic bus tour of the city. I was very overwhelmed by the size of Barcelona, as well as it’s lack of normal street patterns. Over the past few weeks I have spent a great deal of time walking to class and taking the metro. However, I was yet to take a walk with the sole intention of getting lost. I chose to take this walk alone, as I like to stop often and really take in my surroundings. In regard to wandering about, Slimbach states: “We can stop at a place, focus our attention on a particular person or object, wonder, and ask questions to discover clues about something we desire to know or understand” (Slimback, pg 182).

I set out on my walk after my 9 am class on Tuesday. It is my only class of the day, so I took advantage of this free time and hopped on the metro. I live by the beautiful cathedral Sagrada Familia, which is a great area but it is somewhat far from the city center. When I got on the metro, I decided to get off at a random stop on the way to the city center. I wanted to be somewhere that wouldn’t be loaded with tourists, but also somewhere that has monuments and other things to see. When I came out of the metro, I was right next to a beautiful opera house. It lead me down gorgeous side streets, where I found many locals shopping at little fresh markets. When I arrived


Arc de Trimoph, Barcelona.

at the end of the street I was pleasantly surprised to see Barcelona’s Arc de Triomph in the distance. A beautiful red color, it reminds me a great deal of the Arc in Paris, but with its own character. Barcelona is full of color, so it seemed to fit right in. As I approached the Arc I noticed that tourists again surrounded me, so I walked to the end of the walkway and entered a beautiful park. I continued along the water, and back up Las Ramblas into La Boqueria. This is a massive fresh market where the people of Barcelona sell fresh food, ranging from fruits to full on seafood dishes. This was the most pleasant part of the walk for me, because I was surrounded by more beautiful sights, smells, and people than I could have imagined. The market was packed, but in a way I enjoyed. People from all over the world were joined here in this market, enjoying the food and cultues of Spain. One minute you’re smelling fresh bread and pasteries, and the next you are overwhelmed by the smell of the sea.

The words of Slimbach “Walking is a great teacher” could not be truer. I found myself learning to be more comfortable with being lost, while also learning to appreciate the wide variety of sights and smells around me. I learned my capacity for traveling alone without guidance. Navigating the metro without a map as well as walking aimlessly would have terrified me three weeks ago, but do not phase me at all now. I think this teacher concept is interesting because when I visualized it, I saw someone else guiding me around and forcing me to enjoy my surroundings. Now I realize that this teacher is all internal. We are our own teachers; it just takes something like getting lost to pull it out of us. I hope that my time in Barcelona allows me to learn more about myself than I ever knew before.

The travelogue I chose is A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz. This travelogue
is a first hand perspective of his 490-mile walking trip along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. Throughout his journey he learns a great deal about Spanish history as well as himself. Kurt is on the road to recovery from alcohol addiction as well as a crumbling 4 year romantic relationship. The travelogue is full of beautiful descriptions of small towns and cities throughout northern Spain such as Burgos and Leon. At each of his stops, Koontz talks about different aspects of natural beauty to create a full description of his experience. In Meseta, he describes the sunflowers that seem to dance in the wind. While crossing the Pyrenees he speaks of the vast beauty of the mountains as well as the vultures flying overhead. While describing these beautiful sights and sounds of his trip, he also describes the internal conflicts he is experiencing when it comes to his past alcohol addiction as well as his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend Roberta. He finds solace in the other travelers (communitas) who have faced similar experiences, and finds himself growing stronger as his journey progresses.

I am so glad that I chose this travelogue because I have felt so many of the same emotions that Koontz describes throughout his journey. Although I am solely navigating Barcelona and not all of Northern Spain, the journey to find strength in oneself is still prevalent. I really enjoyed his description of his relationship because I feel as though I can relate to it when it comes to friends back home. Throughout my short time here I have realized what relationships back home are worthwhile. Like Koontz, I have formed strong relationships with communitas, which has helped me to appreciate my experiences here even more.

The picture I have chosen to represent this week is from La Boqueria, the fresh market I walked to on Tuesday. It represents the abundance of opportunity here in Barcelona. I can’t wait to see what sights, sounds and smells I stumble upon next. As Koontz states, “There is no way to be happy yesterday or tomorrow.  The only time to be happy is now (Koontz, 129).”


                                                                 Works Cited

Koontz, Kurt. A million steps. United States: Kurt Koontz, 2013. Print.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.