In chapter 6 of Becoming World Wise, Simbach states, “If we learn to actively participate in our host country without rejecting or romanticizing it, our global learning can enter a phase of emotional, mental, and physical adaptation and integration (164).” Personally, before starting my journey off to Ireland, there was not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to comfortably adapt to the culture. Primarily, because I went in with little expectations or anticipations, I was merely happy with the thought that I finally was able to bring myself there for the first time. Not to mention my entire thought process and outlook on Ireland is purely based on curiosity; I cared little about what I thought I knew about Ireland and went in with the sole motivation to observe and learn everything I didn’t know. Yet once finally there I found myself very conflicted and confused. As soon as I entered the country and for the entire week there after, I was surrounded by Americans and international people. Rarely did I have the chance to actually interact with the Irish natives, which restricted my ability to fully immerse myself into the culture. It took a while before it actually felt like I was in another country. The first few days I never struggled with “Liminality” because psychologically and in a way physically I was still an American living in an American lifestyle. It wasn’t until I was alone and finally moved into my Galway housing did I begin to enter liminality, a space where “Borders are crossed; identity symbols stripped away, familiar roles and customs suspended (Myerhoff).”
The first day was a little bit of a struggle. When you come from a country in which everything appears to be all but limitless and where unnecessary waste is not of concern, it is an extreme shock when you come to a place that is extremely conscientious of waste and usage of utilities, especially in regards to hot water and electricity. In Ireland, hot water is extremely restricted in which the boiler only runs between the hours of 4 am and 8 am, if you manage to use all of the hot water before the next morning, you must turn on the booster in which you are only given one extra half hour of water, which significantly impacts the money left on the meter. The meter is this little screen in your kitchen that tells you how much money/days you have left of electricity and heat. The meter can say you have 20 days left but if you use an hour or so of heat and electricity then it will drop almost 2 days in a matter of 12 hours. In addition to the meter, each person is charged 10 euro to do one load of laundry which in actuality is more like half an American sized load of laundry. After the first few days of constantly seeing the meter go down and freezing my butt off everyday for fear of going over our designated amount of electricity, I decided to ask a local to help me better understand how the system works and how I can do my part to limit waste.
The people were very nice and understanding of my struggle and taught me a variety of ways to best manage my resources. When they were teaching me how to better adapt to the cold environment and restricted living situation I realized that although it is a drastic change from home, it is actually a better one. One week living here has taught me how wasteful and frivolous I am, and slowly but surely I am becoming more conscientious of how I live my life. Now every time I leave a room I always turn off the outlets and make sure everything is well insulated and that all water supplies are firmly shut off. As a result of this, I am no longer living in fear of the dreaded meter, but instead actually find it a fun challenge and learning experience and I can’t wait to go back to America and try to instill this into my family.
In addition to conquering my physical challenges, I also managed to address my psychological challenge of not being immersed into the culture. Once I was finally settled into my apartment, I decided to take a break from my American friends, and decided to wander around the city and the school on my own, getting a lay of the land and meeting the locals. I also decided to be really ambitious and join the women’s rugby club at my school, even though I have never played rugby a day in my life. I am normally an ambitious person but even this had me a little nervous, yet once I was there, the girls were so welcoming and helpful. They not only took the time to try and teach me the sport, but they also took the time to make sure I was comfortable at school and in the city, and new where I was going.
Its kind of crazy to think how I am literally on a line in between two worlds, betwixt and between; I still have my American friends that I live with and go to school with, but then that world combines with my new world, a world of change and new friends. I may be in a state of liminality, a state of strangeness and uncomfortability, but frankly I welcome the strange and the uncomfort, because it pushes me to do things I wouldn’t normally do which gives me experiences and happiness that I would have never otherwise encountered.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.