Leaving everything you have ever known behind and uprooting yourself to experience something completely new and foreign I would like to say is a very difficult thing for me, but strangely enough I find it to be the opposite. I love the trill of seeing new things, hearing new sounds, smelling different smells either good or bad and just experiencing the change of something new and awe worthy. I have experienced this feeling four times in my entire life and it’s all thanks to traveling. In the book Becoming World Wise, Slimbach said one quote in particular that jumped out to me, “one of the great joys of educational travel, in whatever form, is to experience familiar things with an unfamiliar context. 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 (Slimbach 5).” This quote resonated with me, I believe that in my experiences everything we experience is the same but yet so very different and when you experience something foreign it leaves a mark that changes who you are and who you become. In a sense you can die and be born again so to speak multiple time throughout life.
In high school I studied abroad for two weeks in France living with two different host families. That was the first time I have ever left the country and the first time I have ever traveled by plane and I did it all by myself. At the time I remember my parents being worried and saying I needed to be careful and the 17 year old that I was I said, “I know what I’m doing, I’m old enough to handle myself.” Maybe at that time I really did think that being 17 meant I knew everything but now four years later I can honestly say that I was naïve, inexperienced and didn’t really know what the world was truly like. I didn’t know the world was both beautiful and cruel, I didn’t know that life had its ups and downs, I didn’t know really anything about life other than what we were told in books. I didn’t have any real life experiences. I still don’t know the answers to those questions but I know more than I did back then. Those two weeks changed me, I came back different; not physically but mentally I was more aware of my surroundings and my environment. At that point I realized to answer all of my life’s questions I needed to travel. I wasn’t able to travel again until two years later and I traveled to whole “new” world; Nicaragua.
I grew up in Billerica, Massachusetts. It is like any suburban town outside of Boston, large yards, a close knit town, a love for New England sport teams and a town that bonds around the high school football team. I love the town that I grew up in the only problem is that no one ever leaves. “Once a townie, always a townie” is the tag for kids that have grown up there. My grandfather built a house and raise his family in Billerica, my father bought the house from my grandfather and raised my brother and myself there. I love my parents but they have never seen the world, they never had the travel bug and since they didn’t, I never got to unless I paid for them by myself. I have self-funded all of my trips and even help pay for college, and I think by doing that I realized how much more these experiences mean to me. When I traveled to Nicaragua it was a complete and utter culture shock to say the least. It was an eye opening experience that I will always hold dear to my heart. The trip opened my eyes like never before and opened my perception of how the world really is. They are the happiest, liveliest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet but they don’t have twice the things that we have in the US. They always have a smile on their face and yet I who they perceive to have everything they could want in life to make them happy am completely miserable when compared to them. Objects and materials don’t make a person’s day, it’s the people we surround ourselves with. That was one of the biggest lessons that I truly understood on that trip. Even though I have been told that by my father the message never sank in till that moment.
Honestly, I thought I understood what the saying “Rites of Passage” meant but going to that Saturday morning workshop after pulling an all-nighter and being sleep deprived I was pleasantly surprised about the information that I was being given. I thought it was interesting about how we have multiple births and deaths throughout our lives. Our sense of selves goes through deaths and then is reborn metaphorically. For example I “died” going to France but was “reborn” when I came back home. As I stated earlier I did not forget who I was or where I came from and the experiences I have had before then but now having experienced something completely different I came back knowing and learning more than I had before. I had experienced on that trip a “Rite of Passage”. My 17 year old self had left her old status and entered into the liminal phase of her journey. In that stage she experienced choices that she needed to make, challenges, a communita with all the other students on the trip facing the same obstacles, and a mentor (my professor) who guided her on the journey of self-enlighten.(*sorry for talking in the third person I didn’t know how to explain the feeling otherwise). I can’t wait for my journey to Seville, Spain and the many adventures and memories ahead. I feel like having experienced these passages before and knowing knowing what they really are that this trip will be more eye-opening than others.
Also the travelogue that I chose is Stories from Spain and in the book it has many different stories and legends told down through the generations in Spain. I look forward to reading what those stories are and why they have been passed down over time. It will help me understand the culture of Spain and maybe why things are done a certain way that here in the US that aren’t.
Barlow, Genevieve, and William N. Stivers. Stories from Spain = Historias De Espana. Lincolnwood, Chicago, Ill., U.S.A.: Passport, 1999. Print.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010.Print.