Going from the sunny Gold Coast to the cold and dreary Boston weather was difficult at first, but I feel like I am slowly becoming more accustomed to my native community. In the beginning, it was the little things that challenged or surprised me. For example, it took a little bit to get used to driving on the right side of the road again. While it was not necessarily a challenge, these changes were different and shook up the way I functioned. Another example would be the types of food available. When I left for Australia, I had to adapt to the loss of brands and types of foods I was so accustomed to in Boston. Now that I am back home, it is almost overwhelming that I get my old foods back, while feeling sad that I lost my Australian foods. Even dressing for the weather is different. I became so accustomed to having around ten days of rain and overwhelming heat through my entire time abroad. Coming back home, I have to get back into the habit of dressing better for cold or rainy weather.
When I sat down with my family and read them my Reincorporation Letter, I felt as though they did not understand it at first. While they knew that I was returning as a changed individual, it didn’t really make sense as I was saying it to them. To make it easier for them to understand, I used the idea of a car to explain reincorporation. I said that the car (the community) was made up of several parts (the individual members). Pieces can be taken out of the car and upgraded to help increase the performance of the car, but they still perform the same function. I basically told my family that I was the same person, I was just a better and more experienced version compared to the person I was before the study abroad experience. I feel like once I explained it to my family, and they understood the process I was going through, they accepted and affirmed my growth. To me, it really helped that my family accepted the changes I made during my time abroad. Hearing them say that I seem more mature and older tells me that I successfully went through a rite of passage.
The “gems” that come from study abroad are the new experiences and ideas gained throughout travels. To me, it is easy to keep the gems, because it is something we have learned to love while abroad. If the gem is a new type of food we liked in our host country, then we may find a place to get it here in America. If it is an event or sporting event, we may look for it in our own neighborhoods. I think that in order to keep the gems we have found, we just need to continue enjoying what we have learned.
On the other hand, we have bad habits that need to be changed or addressed. Slimbach compares it to a stream that always finds the quickest path for water to flow. We sub-consciously set routines for ourselves that once we begin, it becomes hard to quit. I believe and agree with Slimbach when he writes, “To change a deep-rooted habit, you must take steps to divert the steam- that is, to subconsciously change the habit.” (Slimbach LOC 4120). I follow this method whenever I try to change something in my life. For example, I wanted to improve my cardio health, so I would make sure that I had to run every night. I became so accustomed to running every night; I could not sleep if I didn’t do my exercise. While I do not believe I have any habits to change, if any arise I know I can combat it.
A quote that represents how I feel right now comes from James Cash Penney. He said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” I relate to this because I felt as though my growth through study abroad experience had been through group effort. I relied heavily on my friends in the liminal stage to help me learn, and I am now relying on my friends and family during reintroduction to my native community. My growth is because I was helped along the way.
Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC 4120