The separation letter experience was a positive one but I didn’t see it as being completely necessary as it lead to similar conversations I had already had. It ended up becoming a conversation about what going abroad was going to be like, what I hoped to get out of it, and what my expectations for communicating would be while I was there. I shared the letter with Andria, my girlfriend, and being that I don’t do things like this and I was a little uncomfortable with it, I started by making a joke out of it; this made it easier for me to get through some of my thoughts and feelings without feeling to “sappy”.
We mostly talked about how often we plan to FaceTime and communicate, and being that she will be studying abroad in Florence and we already have some trips planned we weren’t too worried. We want to make sure that neither of us hinder one another’s experience while also sharing experiences together. We already have some trips booked to take while abroad, but being that we can be very independent people, I know that we will both have fulfilling experiences. I also shared with her the same quote that I used from my first travel log because it resonated with me so much and I felt that she could benefit from it as much as I did.
“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
Suspending your beliefs and values goes hand in hand with your routine. So right now we have a routine of seeing each other everyday and of course that will have to be put on hold while we are abroad. However, knowing that we will create so many memories the change will not be too much of an issue and will only take some getting used to.
After all of this, and through several other conversations I have had with Andria, my family, and my friends, I do feel ready to separate. I am always looking to have large, life-defining experiences and being aware that this is the next one is comforting. I have been involved with the Boy Scouts of America, since I was five years old and going through so many experiences with that program has prepared me for this kind of adventure. Thinking back on it, since leaving for college, I don’t think I have had any experience that comes close to this one; whereas, when I was actively involved with scouting, there were several trips a year that were these huge endeavors that required loads of planning and coordination. I know that studying in Switzerland will be a lifelong memory, just like I knew camping in West Virginia for ten days would be a something to look back on, and going into it with that mindset will really push me to get the most out of the experience.
Getting the most out of the experience will really be what decides if I had a successful experience or not. I want to do so much that I have to look back in this book or in a journal to remember some of the things I did. I hope that my mom will scold me when I tell her some of the adventures I went on and my dad pats me on the back as we swap stories about some of the experiences he has had. I hope that my girlfriend and I become stronger as individuals and as a couple while we experience things together and apart. I want to come back with a new perspective on people from other countries, and bring some of their customs back home with me. I hope to create lifelong friends and contacts in other cities that I can talk to for the rest of my life. At the end of my trip my goal is to be excited to go back home and see everybody but be so enthralled with Switzerland that I can’t wait to go back.
Now while I would not want something unexpected to happen to me everyday in my “regular life” I am looking forward to the unexpected things to come with my life abroad. Saying I am prepared for the unexpected sounds counterintuitive but I am excited to be faced with challenges that will become memories. Now I don’t imagine I will be faced with some incredible hardship because I can be malleable when I need to be, but I do think that my ways of thinking will be challenged. I said in my first travel log that I can become “set in my ways”, well for the next few months I don’t want to have any “ways”. At Quinnipiac I schedule out all my time, which makes me productive, reduces my stress, and leads to success, but at Franklin I want to be open to spontaneity. I know it will take some getting used to for me but I am ready and excited for it.
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.