Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” By Abby Spooner Marlborough MA, USA

 

Initially, leading up to my separation from New Zealand I was nervous. I am not always the best at coping with change and it was difficult for me to imagine not waking up in the city I had found a home in for the past five moths. However, much to my surprise I was able to complete a smooth transition while saying goodbye (for now) to my new home. I attribute much of this to the concepts learnt throughout QU301, specifically through the experience and practice of ABC reflection. Throughout the semester ABC reflection has taught me to recognize and welcome change, as a result when I said goodbye to Dunedin and turned towards home I was able to recognize the affect the past five moths has had on my opinions, world view, and response to stressful situations (particularly moments of change).

So-long land of the long white cloud!

So-long land of the long white cloud!

In contrast to my separation from Dunedin being smooth as possible, my reincorporation has felt jagged and sharp. This is not to say I did not rejoice in the comforts of home, I was eager to reach my bed, my dog, and my family. However, there were moments where I would look around my own home and all of a sudden feel as though I has time traveled. I could physically feel how much I had changed and how much everything I knew in the US had not. February 7th (the day I left) now felt like a lifetime ago, and in a way it was. The time in my life I was living then is far different to the time I am personally living in now. I have arguably learned more about the world and myself in the past few moths than I have my entire college career and as a result I feel as though I am neither here nor there, once again in a liminal phase.

In order to describe the changes I have gone through during my study abroad experience to my family and friends, specifically my parents, I decided to reflect and focus on the major life lessons I learned throughout my time in New Zealand. Before I knew it I had a page full of lessons in my letter draft. However, by far the most important one to me, and the one I decided to discuss with my family was my newfound ability to worry and stress less. Before studying abroad I worried constantly, about school, friends, family, about almost anything. However, New Zealand taught me to not sweat the small stuff, everything eventually works out and stressing about a problem can often make it worse.

At the end of Slimbachs Chapter 8: The Journey Home he discusses the challenging task of bringing these lessons leaned home in order to create new habits. A fear of mine is that once school begins my new approach to stress will revert back to what it was previously. However, in order to carry my experience over I must learn to create a new habit. I believe the best way to do this is through the support and guidance of the people around me. During my conversation with my parents they expressed how proud they were of my accomplishments and how they were willing to support my new ideas, particularly this new approach to stress. By talking about my fear of reverting back to my old stressful ways I am already creating an environment where a new habit can form, and a new community mindset to support these changes.

I believe my conversation with my family not only benefited my experience, but also theirs. I left feeling as though they have a better understanding of the changes this journey has encouraged. I ended the conversation with a quote from Becoming World Wise I feel encompasses the emotions of study abroad perfectly;

“while it’s true that the initial decision to uproot is ours, soon after, much of our life abroad happens under out feet, and without our permission. Cultural quakes happen. Our foundations suddenly shift, and nothing – not family, not friends, not language, not customs – seems fixed anymore” (Slimbach, 156)

This quote explains how study abroad truly changes everything, and it was at this moment that I could see the light bulb go off in my parents’ head, they now understood as much as they could.

Sunset or Sunrise? A new Chapter begins

Sunset or Sunrise? A new Chapter begins

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Travel Log 14 “Global Connections and Rites of Separation By Abby Spooner, Dunedin New Zealand

I have dreaded this day for far too long, the beginning of separation from Dunedin, a place I have begun to call home. Over the past week I have found myself in a rather confusing state. I am excited to return to the familiar environment of my US home, but sad to leave my New Zealand one. As a result I have put off the dreaded rites of separation blog for as long as possible, as if writing down my bitter sweet thoughts would make my dread yet excitement for leaving more real. Sadly it is time to move on to new adventures and a familiar routine, so here it goes- thoughts as I prepare to depart and return:

Sun rising over University of Otago Clocktower as I set out for my reflective walk.

Sun rising over University of Otago Clocktower as I set out for my reflective walk.

Today I began saying goodbye to my city, each time I walk my favorite streets, order from my favorite café, or poke my head into my favorite shops I find myself wondering if this time is the last time I am going to do it. In order to actively participate in my separation I decided to take a walk through Dunedin like I did during Travel Log 4 about getting oriented. Saying goodbye is tough; However, by walking through the city I was able to consider the best and worst parts about separation and how I wanted to conclude my rite of passage. My stroll made me appreciate the wonderful times I have had over the past 5 moths. Dunedin has become my home base, a familiar place to return to following my many adventures across the country. If I return later in life I will look forward to walking these now familiar streets once again. On my walk a quote I had come across about travel came to mind. I couldn’t remember the exact words, so when I got home I looked it up. It is a quote by Miriam Adeney and describes my emotions throughout the week perfectly:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

 

When I think about returning home I am eager, but is home going to be home? As Adeney states, I don’t think I will be fully home again; there will always be a part of me longing for travel. I have caught the travel bug, it has changed me so much so that home can no longer be home in the same way it once was. However, it is this distinct change that quantifies a rite of passage, a new status as a global citizen.

There are multiple examples I could use to explain how I am more aware of my global citizenship than I previously was. However, Slimbach expands on his ideas about the global citizen by arguing that the real journey is finding our true selves through our great dreams. He argues that external exploration leads to internal discovery of our intentions, ideas, and impulses (Slimbah, 53). He states, “the psychological stress associated with cross cultural learning actually carries the power to expose us, heal us, and complete us. Instead of trying to numb the pain, we allow ourselves to feel our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.” The global connections I have made throughout this semester not only developed into a global citizen status but also prompted me to think about my own political and social opinions. I am now an avid believer that conversation can change the world. Simple conversations with the people I meet with all semester created a space where world issues could be discusses in a positive and informative way despite varying views. As a result I agree with Slimbach’s claim that global citizenship also includes a degree of self-development and discovery. My rite of passage this semester can be described by the transition of global citizenship. However, it was much more than that; I learned more about who I am, who I want to be, and my opinions of the world. Although I still dread leaving Dunedin, I also look forward to my return home so that I can introduce my friends and family to the new version of myself.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” By: Erin Foley, Dedham, MA

After what seemed like an eternity on an airplane and waiting for luggage that I thought would never come, my homecoming had finally arrived. When I awoke last Wednesday, I was honestly nervous to return home. Had a lot changed since I left? Would I be able to easily reconnect with family and friends? Would they be annoyed after the fifth time I mentioned Paris (I have many stories to tell!)? But as I walked out of the double doors at the boarder patrol station and saw my family waving teary-eyed with huge smiles on their faces, all of my concerns vanished.

That is not to say, however, that I have not come across specific challenges. Many of my friends say, “Tell me Paris stories!” or “I want to hear all about it!” But each time, I cannot seem to express my gratitude for the experience that made me contemplate my entire future—quite a big deal for anyone who knows me (I always have everything planned to a tee). How do you sum up four months into four sentences? In my opinion, it is impossible and utterly inadequate to briefly describe the trip of a lifetime that made me seriously reflect on my true passions for the first time in awhile. As I may have mentioned in previous logs, I feel as though I have not yet left the liminal phase. Instead, I am in a limbo of indecisiveness; what do I do next? Who do I seek out to help me through this life transition? What will ultimately be the right career choice for me, moving forward?

After writing my reincorporation letter, I was satisfied with its message. Sometimes, I feel like writing down your ideas expresses them more thoroughly than simply stating them. When written on paper, words are permanent and difficult to disregard. Although someone may refuse to address them, your ideas are well thought out and subject to change; you can always return to a paper or a journal entry to edit but words are much harder to take back once they are said. In the same token, I wanted to write a letter that explained the difficult reincorporation I would face, without seemingly placing the blame on my family. Parents want to do everything in their power to help their children through a tough situation but I unfortunately have to brave this one alone. I asked for their utmost patience and that it would be a two-way street: I would be patient with my newly unfamiliar communitas and that they would provide patience with frustrations that I may encounter. After reading, my mother thought it was simply stated and well written and she agreed to try to be as patient as possible.

Obviously the study abroad experience does not simply end after your return home. Think about it: you underwent a transformation and whether you like it or not, those memories will stay with you for the rest of your life. That being said, I want to take the time to discuss how I will carry forward all that I have learned. I touched upon it briefly before, but studying abroad taught me to be independent, relying upon my own knowledge to find solutions to problems. Heading back to campus, I hope to employ the same mindset throughout the semester. If there are any issues with scheduling or coursework, the first thing I do is immediately email the professor. Perhaps before that step, I can do my own research and solve the problem myself, without relying so heavily on my wonderful advisor (who I am sure is sick of our incessant email correspondence).

Although study abroad is an all-together positive experience, it can sometimes highlight our biggest faults. I personally need to work on being more independent, using my advisor as a resource as opposed to a crutch, but also learning to be patient. I have already found myself reflecting upon my impatience in the most random of places—driving (once a familiar habit), grocery shopping and simply occupying my time. Studying abroad has a feeling of instant gratification—everything you could ever want is in one place. If I were bored, I would venture out into the streets to discover a new little corner of Paris. Now, I have returned to a town where I have lived for twenty years, with little left to discover…or is there? By being patient, I can allow everyday life, although sometimes boring and grueling, to occasionally surprise me. After all, Miriam Beard said, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

 

 

 

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By: Erin Foley, Barcelona, Spain

With only one month remaining in the semester, my “communitas” has adapted a new meaning. Although originally used in reference to members of my immediate host culture, I have made remarkable connections with some students in my program. Spending four months traveling and studying with the same students encourages a strong bond in which we mutually learn through one another’s experiences, positive or otherwise. Communitas, according to Rite of Passage Theory, is the population that strives to improve as a direct result of the traveller’s personal growth upon return. They will bring with them the fruits of their experience to nourish a mutualistic rapport. More often than not, study abroad students return with empty memories; they may have pictures with all major landmarks, but they did not dig deep and discover a new facet of their character that could be beneficial to the communitas.

As I have made clear in my previous travel logs, my language acquisition has improved immensely. Without the weekly dinners with my host mother or culture workshops with my program, I do not believe I would have successfully adapted to the French culture. Not only does that include proficiently speaking the language, but also familiarizing myself with the food, art, music and history that encompasses all that is France. This way, I am interacting with the global community and making more meaningful connections than a tourist simply passing through for the sake of traveling.

I have already addressed one element of rites of passage (program success relies on relationships). Without the cohesive relationships amongst study abroad staff and students, it would be quite difficult to establish a “strategy [that] can be implemented with sufficient commitment and creativity to make it a success,” as stated by authors Blumenkratz and Goldstein. One of the deepest connections you can form with someone, in my opinion, is one connected with travel. In essence, these are the only people that are experiencing the exact same thing as you. No one, apart from the members of your program, is experiencing the same destination during the same semester in its current political or social climates. For instance, only my fellow classmates and I will experience Paris after the November tragedies. For my digital story, I could potentially focus on the relationship that I have formed with my three closest friends in Paris and how they helped me through the transitional period of liminality.

Time alone for reflection is another essential aspect of study abroad. Sometimes we become lost in translation, literally and figuratively. As humans, we need time to process all of this information. We may find ourselves blindly following our peers’ interests, instead of pursuing our own. While it is great to broaden your horizon and visit a museum with your friend who loves art, maybe you could also reserve time to read a book at your favorite reading spot. I try to go to a location once a week by myself. I think solitary reflection is necessary for overcoming liminality; how can you become a new version of yourself when the opinions of others are affecting your experiences? Because my favorite reading spot is the Luxembourg Gardens, perhaps I could center my digital story around my independence and newfound freedom to venture out on my own which is something that I would never do at home.

Lastly, and arguably most important, is the idea of giving away one’s previous attitudes, behaviors, etc. One cannot expect to be fully immersed within a culture without abandoning their preconceived notions and old habits that may plague the voyager as they embark on new adventures. Allowing myself to relinquish American stereotypes of the French cleared a pathway to traditionally learn about the culture instead of blindly assuming all I have ever heard was true. Perhaps I could focus on my relationship with my host mother and how she either defies or supports typical stereotypes and how that has affected my experience overall.

After reading both digital story drafts, I felt I connected more with the first student’s. The writer beautifully described the process of familiarizing oneself with the host country through a specific location, which is similar to my favorite niche in France. The Luxembourg Gardens has allowed me to break out of my shell and independently explore the city.

Travel Log 14 “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Kari Julien Trice – Barcelona, Spain

In Richard Slimbach’s book, he discusses the importance of traveling and finding ourselves. In chapter two of Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning, Slimbach states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54). The study abroad experience does not only offer us the knowledge about a new country and culture, but it also gives us the time to learn more about ourselves. I know that studying abroad here in Barcelona I have learned so much here and I have grown as a person. This growth is not something that would have happened back home in a classroom. I have learned more about the Spanish culture and others within Europe, and I am leaving here with an open mind about the world that surrounds me. I have also learned that I have a new love and desire for traveling. This experience has shown me that there is so many other parts of the world I want to see and new cultures that I want to learn about.

Being a global citizen and becoming a member of the global community has been an unforgettable experience. I have learned different values and have gained new perspectives through the people I have met here, the places I have visited, and the community I have become a part of. Through the struggle of speaking the Spanish language and the excitement of immersing into a new culture, I have learned what it is to be a global citizen. I hope that I am able to spread this new knowledge that I have gained and to inspire others on the importance of studying abroad. I am excited to share with my friends and family the experiences I have gained.

As it is coming down to my last week here in Barcelona, the bittersweet feeling of leaving this place is really starting to kick in. While I am very excited to see my family and friends, I am truly sad to leave this place that has become my new home. A few months ago I was nervous and still going through the difficulty of being away from home, but now, here in Barcelona, I have found a new home. It is extremely difficult for me to say goodbye to the friends that I have made here, the teachers I have learned from, and the places that have given me some of the best moments of my life. Since some of my friends are leaving to return to the U.S. this weekend, we all decided to go out to brunch one last time before everyone departed, along with the two faculty members that we became close with from our program at CEA. We laughed and shared some of our most memorable moments here in Barcelona. As we said our goodbyes we all hugged each other and a few of us shed some tears. We said, “This isn’t goodbye, it’s hasta pronto,” which means “see you soon.”

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A few of my friends and faculty at a farewell brunch

There are many quotes that describe this feeling I have right now about leaving this beautiful city. But one quote that expresses my thoughts in this moment is Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey’s statement that says, “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” I think the study abroad experience really makes an individual change and grow. I am leaving here with a new perspective on life and with an open mind. I am leaving here with a new set of cultural values. I am leaving here as a changed individual. I dreamed about coming to Barcelona for years and while it is difficult to leave the beautiful country of Spain, I know that I can say “hasta pronto,” because one day I will be back.

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Travel Log 12 “Service” By Abby Spooner. Dunedin, New Zealand

A week ago I thought I had a clear grasp on the culture here in Dunedin. If asked I would have said, Dunedin is a city that prides themselves on the rugged, the edgy, and the different; A city that is home to one of the largest universities in New Zealand, and proud of it. However, I have since learned that Dunedin is far more than just an ordinary college town, and this realization would have never happened without the opportunity to participate in community service.

On Saturday the 23rd of April I spent my morning and afternoon volunteering at the Otago Farmers Market. Every week the market enlists local environmentalist to help educate and lead market goers on making environmentally friend decisions regarding their waste. There are four bins at the market, and figuring out which bin is correct can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to some. The bins were compost, recycle, glass, and other waste. As a volunteer we had to pay extra attention to the compost bin. This bin was special in that the contents are given to a company called Youth Grow Garden Center (YGGC). YGGC is not only a vender at the market, but also a program that provides local youth with work experience in an effort to teach them employable skills. The youth at YGGC are able to use the compost food and paper products we collect at the market as nutrients for their growing plants. As a result, our efforts at the market compost bin not only benefit the environment, but also educate the youth of Dunedin as well as help produce more food for the market.

Educating others about being environmentally conscious is a passion of mine. However, what made this day even more special was that I got to connect with the Dunedin culture in a way few international students do. Individuals at the market did not simply throw their garbage away and leave; they genuinely wanted to have a conversation with us. There was one man that came up to me that stands out. He had a pile of trash from a meal he just ate with his family in hand, awkwardly attempting to open the waste bin and throw it all in there. However, I kindly stopped him and we sorted is cans, biodegradable plates, and other plastics into the proper bins. While doing this we sparked up a conversation on who I was, why I was there, and the importance of recycling. It was not a very complex conversation; in fact it was rather basic in its content. However, this man, as well as the many others I had the privilege of speaking with, exposed me to a different side of Dunedin I had never seen before. The pride in the rugged and edgy still existed but at a softer level. These were people that had fallen in love with Dunedin so much so that they decided to raise a family here. During everyday life here in Dunedin we are rarely exposed to that demographic due to the location and arraignment of the university within the city. This experience made me realize that Dunedin is far more than a town that prides itself on its University. Every individual I came across that day had a genuine desire to learn not only about the environment but also who I was. This sort of blind kindness of strangers is a remarkably comforting quality of Dunedin and I feel privileged to have experienced just a sliver of it.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This quote not only reflects the work I did at the Otago Farmers Market but also acts as my motivation to become a physical therapist. Back when I was attempting to choose a college major I had no idea where to start, all I knew was that I wanted to help others any way I possibly could. I desired a career where I could interact with people on a daily basis in an effort to help them feel better. I soon found that community service was the best way to explore this passion. Later that year, I discovered physical therapy through an independent volunteering endeavor at a local physical therapy clinic. The therapists I worked with had deep connections within the community because they made an effort to get to know their patients in the little time they had with them each day, not unlike the experience I had at the farmers market. Through these past experiences I have learned that service is not only about others, it’s about sharing passions and connecting with the community as a whole. However, I was only able to connect these passions to my community at home in the States.Merlin-mahatmagandhi.jpg

Before this assignment I never considered getting to know Dunedin through my passion for community service. However, this experience ended up being the best way to not only pursue my own passions but also get to know the local, softer, side of Dunedin culture. As a result, I now realize that Gandhi words could not be truer, the best way to not only find myself, but also find a sense of community is through service. This day not only expanded my knowledge of Dunedin but also expanded my definition of a Global Community. I have walked away from this experience with the desire to peruse further service within not only Dunedin, but also within other countries around the world in the future. Last week in Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” I stated that in order to create change we all needed to unite as one global community. I believe that the fist step in making any kind of change environmentally, socially, or politically on a global scale must involve expanding our definition of community and service to include these other nations in need. By working together towards a common goal as one global community, anything is possible.

Being silly and "finding myself within service"

Being silly and “finding myself within service”

Travel Log 14 “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” Athena Rine, Seville Spain

Over the past few months I have learned a lot about perception; how where we come from shapes what we do, what we believe, how we act, our morals and values, and so on. When Slimbach states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” he is speaking to the new perceptions we gain as travelers. (Slimbach, 54) My time abroad has made me more accepting of people and places and opened my mind to new ways of doing things. I plan on using this skill in my future as a healthcare provider, accepting others’ beliefs and views without judgment. I think that this discovery has and will continue to contribute to my growth as an active member of the global community because in my opinion, the most successful globally active people are those who are accepting of cultural diversity. If we close ourselves off to those who are “different” we close ourselves off to a world of opportunity to learn and grow. Global relationships are so unbelievably symbiotic, and everyone should have the chance to partake in them.

Global-Connections

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I have gotten very close with my roommates here in Spain, and one of the hardest things about my abroad experience coming to an end is going to be saying goodbye to them. We have bonded so much over the past four months and have had amazing experiences as communitas. Being that we are all from different parts of the U.S., the chances of us all meeting up again at the same time are very slim. We decided that on our last night here we would each pass around our journals and write each other letters in them to remember us by, kind of like a yearbook signing. We also bought matching necklaces with the latitude and longitude coordinates of our apartment on them. In addition to this, my university here is having a farewell dinner so that all the students and professors can say goodbye to each other. Although I am dreading the “goodbye” part, I am very excited to see everyone together one last time and spend time with all the friends I’ve made here.

“The thing about new beginnings is that they require something else to end.”

–author unknown

Although it sounds cliché, “bittersweet” is the best word I can think of to describe my feelings on leaving. While I absolutely love Sevilla and everyone here, I really do miss my family, friends, and boyfriend. Not to mention American food and customs. I am excited to see everyone and get back to my life at home. As my countdown to home draws nearer, I can’t help but think about my favorite parts of both the United States and Spain and how fortunate I am to have been able to live in two amazing countries.

In order to bring about closure to my time abroad, I started working on a scrapbook of all the pictures and journal entries I have collected. It’s a great way to revisit all the memories I have made and put them all on paper to share with my family and friends upon my return. I think doing this as well as having a positive attitude about returning home and sharing my experiences with everyone will help me to reincorporate in a healthy and successful way.

 

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Separation” By: Erin Foley, Paris, France

As my semester is winding down and I am preparing to leave my temporary home of four months, Paris is heating up amidst new labor law reforms. President François Hollande has just forcibly approved a reformation to France’s Labor Code, facilitating easier lay offs without the consequence of harsh payoffs. A popular phenomenon amongst young sojourners, Richard Slimbach suggests that, “if we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54). I believe that is the difference between being a resident of another culture who experiences life as a local and being a vacationer who simply observes this new world from afar. In order to delve into unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable depths, one must actively participate in the community to reach a sense of integration and comprehension. As a student attending a French university, I like to stay abreast of impending protests and strikes by watching the news and listening to the radio. Since many of these demonstrations affect my everyday life, from public transportation and even to safety, it is imperative that I remain hyper vigilant. This, however, is what separates the temporary visitor of the surrounding world from the citizen of the world within. Although a resident of four months, I understand the frustration and empathize with the French, who feel betrayed by their government. Instead of maintaining the typically rigid, American view that that the French are “lazy” for only wanting to work thirty-five hour weeks, I at least make an attempt to understand the root of the problem. Understanding does not necessarily equate to support and acceptance.

As someone with uniquely American roots, I sometimes think I lack important knowledge of the global community. Traveling abroad, I can affirm from personal experience, has opened my eyes to worldly issues. Due to a seemingly geographic coincidence, the United States seems to turn an unintentional blind eye to the social and political turmoil happening in Europe at the moment. That is not to say that we have not done our part on the war against terrorism, for example. I, however, am speaking purely from a personal standpoint. As an American citizen, I do not feel as informed as I should be on events happening in Europe. France, one of our closest allies, is facing a new revolution that recalls “May ’68,” a month-long rebellion that paralyzed the entire country until its end. In addition to political unrest, France is also trying to rebuild solidarity after the November 13th terrorist attacks. The responsibilities of a global citizen include staying informed and understanding how the instability in one country, may affect yours. For instance, if France was the United States’ main supplier of cheese, yet the trucks are unable to make it to the airport due to protestors blocking major routes, this presents a problem for consumers. If only some goods make it to the U.S., the demand may be high but the supply low, thereby raising prices. Although a small scale, hypothetical issue, France’s continued disorder may have an unintended ripple effect on many other nations. As an informed global citizen, it is important to understand all of the possible consequences.

Since it is inevitable, I now must discuss separation, but this time from France. Because my host mother has been such an integral part of my study abroad experience, I want to make sure she knows how thankful I am for welcoming me into her home, encouraging me when I had an upcoming French exam, surprising me with little gifts, and lastly, offering me a real look inside what it means to be part of a French family. Before I leave, I look forward to sharing one last meal with her to express my utter gratitude for giving me all the keys to success this semester. I cannot help but feel melancholy. Since all my friends have left before me, a quote from Slimbach sticks out in my mind: “It is little wonder so many returnees speak of their sojourns as “life changing,” as they often generate vital reconnections with oneself and the outside world” (40). I wonder what reincorporation has been like for them and what sorts of things I can look forward to in the upcoming week. Although it excites me, I am also sad to be leaving the city of lights, which I was lucky enough to have had the chance to call “home” for four incredible months.

TL15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation,” by Kari Julien Trice- Tolland, CT

I have been home for about a week now and things definitely feel different. I have deeply missed my days in Barcelona and the home I had there. I miss the city life and the constant access to public transportation. Coming back to my small town has been an adjustment. Although this transition into being back home has been a little difficult, I am happy that I am able to see my family and friends again.

In our workshop we discussed the process of reincorporation and how we enter our home community with a “new status.” Being back in this community I feel that I have experienced a sense of reverse culture shock. Through observation and conversations with my peers I feel that I am witnessing my community through a new lens, and I currently feel as if I am an outsider in my home country. Living in Barcelona for four months, I became accustomed to their culture and their way of life. I have gained more knowledge of our world and now view the American culture differently.

Upon my arrival home I chose to share my Reincorporation Letter with my family and friends. After my parents picked me up at JFK, I shared my thoughts and we discussed my experience on the car ride home. Slimbach mentioned that when returning to our home country, we are creating a new identity and a new home. “Just as we had to construct a home in our host culture, we must now learn to reconstruct a new home in our home culture” (208). With the experiences that we have each gained from studying abroad, we are no longer the same as when we departed from our home culture. My parents were very happy to hear of my experience and understanding of the foreign feeling I felt when stepping off of the plane.

A few days after returning home, I went to Quinnipiac to visit some of my closest friends. I told them of my time in Barcelona and expressed my enthusiastic views on life in Europe. I encouraged my friends to travel in life, for going to a foreign country will change the way that you think. I hope that with my arrival back home, I am able to make my friends see things from another perspective on the world that we live in.

Carrying forward the ‘gems’ I have gained on this experience is an important part of reincorporation. I will continue to carry forward my experience by keeping an open mind, listening to the thoughts of others, and sharing the knowledge that I have gained through studying in Spain. I have grown and matured so much over these past four months. In my first year of college, I remember not actually being too interested in studying in a foreign country. I decided to take the opportunity because of the experience of my older sister, and my growing interest in the Spanish culture. Before departing for Barcelona, I would have never thought that I would have such a strong passion for traveling. Now, I realize that there are so many other places I want to se, and other cultures that I want to learn about. I have even considered the idea of possibly living in Europe for a couple of years after graduation. I am very excited for the future and the opportunities to choose from.

Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime, and as Oliver Wendell Holmes states, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” We have each grown significantly and have been exposed to a culture different than our own. This experience has changed me for the better and I will always carry the ‘gems’ that I have gained throughout life.

Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” Athena Rine, Northport NY

I thought I had mixed emotions when leaving for Spain, but I never anticipated the amount I would have coming home. Four months have never flown by so fast. This past week was filled with lots of hugs and visits with family and friends, along with catching up on sleep and overcoming jet lag. Unpacking my bags and sharing stories and pictures was another whole project. I’ve only been home a week, so I probably wouldn’t say I’ve completely reincorporated into my home community, especially because I haven’t been too many places besides my house, but I have enjoyed getting back to the comforts of the life I grew up in. Being able to walk around in leggings and flip flops without judgment is great, along with eating comfort foods and driving my car again. Most of all I’m happy to be using my first language daily and feeling that I fully fit in and belong at any given moment. If I had to choose the biggest challenge of this past week it would probably be missing my host community and feeling as if nobody understands just how much I miss it and the impacts this experience had on me. I’ve been in contact with my roommates every day talking about our home lives and what we miss the most about Sevilla. Talking to them helps a lot because I feel like I haven’t completely left my Spain life in Europe.

My parents were a lot more open to helping me reincorporate than to separate, probably because they were just so happy I was home and didn’t have to worry about me living in another country anymore. They were so excited to see me that they followed me around the first few days and hung on my every word. It felt really good to be missed so much. When I sat them down to talk about my reincorporation they explained how they had already seen some changes in me and how I was acting. (Good ones of course!) We were very much on the same page with my developments, and I really felt like a respected adult as I spoke.

I explained to my parents how I felt as if I was being pulled between Northport and Sevilla, not sure of which I loved more because each has such a special place in my heart. I used a puzzle piece analogy to describe how I felt as if I fit into both Spain and the United States now, and tried to get across as best I could how in love I was with my host culture. I even find it funny now calling it a “host” culture, because I feel like it has truly become my home.

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I definitely feel that my family has recognized the changes that have occurred in my life. They are proud of me for my new discoveries and maturation due to my taking of this course and my preparing them for what would happen before it did. My friends on the other hand don’t fully understand the effects study abroad has had on me and view my trip as more of a vacation. Having my family there to support me and appreciate more of what I have experienced has helped me to validate my changes and take pride in the new version of myself that I have become.

I plan on carrying my experience forward by always remembering the number one thing I have learned: to have an open mind. I have really become more accepting to new people, places, beliefs, etcetera, and want this new quality to last forever. It has made me a more understanding and less judgmental person and I am proud of the changes I have made to my ways of thinking. I also want to keep using all the new Spanish I have learned so I don’t lose it. I am so happy with the progress I have made, so I plan on speaking it as much as possible at home to anyone who will listen to me, in addition to keeping in contact with my friends from Sevilla over text.

One habit that will be most difficult to maintain now that I am home is how I have learned to live in the moment and not be so connected to my phone all the time. Now that I have my data back and can access anything at any second, I want to make a conscious effort to only use social media when nothing else is going on, such as when I first wake up or right before I go to bed, rather than all throughout the day. I want to enjoy each and every minute of my life in the U.S. like I did while I was abroad and take time to stop and appreciate it, even if this means putting my phone on airplane mode when I’m out or missing messages in a group chat. Life is more important than the latest instagrams.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” –Miriam Adeney

This quote perfectly describes my feelings on coming home and leaving Sevilla. While I am ecstatic to be reunited with my friends and family, I am constantly missing waking up in my apartment, taking strolls down the river with friends, and enjoying the relaxed routine of my life in Spain. But as terrible as it is being away from my home away from home, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.