During the initial workshop we discussed several terms and ideas that I never would have considered while studying abroad. Although these elements would have been prevalent throughout my experience I doubt I would be able to recognize nor define them. The most important take away from the workshop can be summed up in the following quote:
“In order to make fair and illuminating comparisons between cultures, we must temporarily suspend our largely inherited values and beliefs without flaunting or renouncing them… we must be able to think new and old thoughts, to experience new and old emotions… at a minimum, that we will have learned to adjust our own behavior so it doesn’t unsettle, confuse, or offend others”
-Slimbach, p. 164
I recognize that I am a passionate person and can be judgmental of people that are drastically different than me, so giving my strong beliefs a rest for the next few months will be beneficial and will allow me to open myself up to all of these new ways of living that I will soon experience. I have always enjoyed having a set schedule, but “going with the flow” on a trip like this will allow me to get the most out of all the trips I take; especially because while I am in Switzerland, I hope to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. The idea of suspending my own beliefs is probably the biggest takeaway from the workshop that I did not consider beforehand.
Another idea in the workshop that resonated with me was the idea of finding a mentor and communitas. When I found out I was going to be the only student from Quinnipiac going to Switzerland I was excited to be by myself, doing things my way and having experiences that are my own. After the workshop however, I realized that I can have experiences that are my own without being alone. There will be tons of other students at Franklin University looking to make their own memories so what is the point of me going and doing things by myself. Finding a mentor would also be extremely beneficial to me. I find that I depend a lot on the internet to tell me what the “best” way to do things is, whether that be finding the best experience through Trip Advisor, the best restaurant with Yelp, or the best place to sleep with Airbnb. Finding somebody who has been in the country that I can trust to give me advise will be priceless on this trip. Finding out what the hidden gems are on my journeys will be far more rewarding than going where everybody else goes.
In Slimbach’s introduction he clearly touches on the ABC’s involved with The Reflective Process. More specifically he touches on affect and cognition. Slimbach is constantly discussing his emotions and thoughts in the introduction which gives great insight into what the experience he is having is really like. Slimbach is shy when approaching the hut and awestruck when he steps inside, this says a lot about Slimbach. He goes from being nervous to surprised in an instant when he realizes that these Vietnamese natives have already been introduced to the western culture that he surely was not expecting. This small piece of the book made me realize that I should take note of as many of my emotions while studying abroad because it is not something I usually consider. I can imagine how much more powerful a memory can be when you can recall your emotional state beyond simply being surprised, happy, or sad.
Slimbach also discusses his thoughts extensively, and the one that stuck out to me the most was his idea that he would be the first westerner in this town which lead to his disappointment when he saw that the villagers already have a television. This made me realize that, while its okay to have expectations for a place, keeping them low and under control can make an experience that much more powerful. If Slimbach had kept his expectations low he may have been excited by the idea that the natives had an introduction to western culture rather than disappointed that he wasn’t the one to give it to them.
I chose the book Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes for my travelogue. I had decided when the idea of the travelogue came up that I did not want a run of the mill tour guide of Switzerland as all of that information could be found online. Instead I wanted something that would go more in depth and give me slightly grittier details beyond the surface of a very tourist friendly country. One of the quotes that summarized this for me was, “This book won’t tell you where to eat in Zurich, what to see in Basel or how to use the trains. What it will do is take you behind the scenes and beyond the stereotypes on a journey into the heart of Switzerland and the minds of its sometimes quirky people.” This is exactly what I was looking for and I hope it will give me a greater understanding as to how the Swiss people think beyond what they like to eat and where they like to visit.
Bewes, Diccon. Swiss watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money. London: Nicholas Brealey, 2012. Print.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.