Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” Jim Webb in Sandwich, Ma

People often use the analogy, “its just like riding a bike” to describe something that, once learned, is difficult to forget how to do and easy to recall how to do.  I felt like this would be the same for some of my habitual practices in America.  I changed a lot while abroad, many of which, were culturally dependent and I assumed would revert back once I was back in the US.  For the most part I was right, If I didn’t hold onto something I learned abroad it would fade into memory after a short amount of time.  Reading Richard Slimbach’s book Becoming World Wise helped prepare me for this and I made sure to pick a few cultural differences that I never wanted to forget.  In order to pick them I referred to a letter I wrote before I went abroad which had a list of the things I wanted to accomplish by the end of the semester.  The main ones on this list were to learn Italian and be a better cook.  Italy was perfect for both of these, their main language being Italian and their second language being good food made it easy to learn.  I really enjoy being able to speak a different language and I will strive to continue to improve it for the rest of my life.  As for cooking I was never much good at it but after exploring my taste buds a little more in Italy and cooking with my friends abroad I learned some good skills.  My mother has always been a great cook and I know she is thrilled that I want to cook more because it makes it a bit easier for her.  The other thing I brought back from Italy is some different pronunciations like the correct way to say pistacchio, gnocchi, bruschetta, and many other Italian words.  I don’t know how much of a practical purpose this will serve other than making English majors upset but it will help to remind me of Italy.

 

There are also many cultural differences that I will be unable to recreate in the US.  Such as walking everywhere, or only buying a few things at the grocery store, or pausa.  Pausa is an Italian tradition where the stores close in the middle of the day, around lunch time.  A lot of stores close, kids get out of school for a few hours, and traffic almost completely ceases to exist.  You also aren’t allowed to play basketball at this time which my friends and I learned the hard way.  And as much as I disliked walking up all the hills and cobblestone streets to get anywhere its probably the thing I miss the most.  Like I said in the beginning some of my abroad habits will change and I will have to reinvent them to work again at home.  But there are still many things I am not used to and it will probably take me a long time to get used to again.  The big one so far is shopping at the grocery store, no one wants to go everyday or multiple times in the same day but I am really not good at figuring out what I need to cook with.  In Italy I was able to run to the grocery store and then go back if I needed something else because it was a five-minute walk away.  In the US I need a list and have to try and get as much as I can in one go because it’s a fifteen-minute drive away.  I haven’t seen too many of my other old habits reemerge but the US requires a different lifestyle than the one I had abroad and as much as I don’t want to I will need to change.

 

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Photo taken on my last day in Perugia, even the sky was sad we were leaving.

Works Cited

 

Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 4026-4028). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Travel Log #13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By Madeleine Harder. Zagreb, Croatia

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein argue that there is a lack of meaningful, community based rituals in the United States and that this is detrimental to American society. They draw on examples such as drinking, voting, and driving because many see these as age markers for the transition into adulthood. The problem is these benchmarks are pre-set; you don’t have to earn anything to partake in these activities. It is a blurry line to cross into adulthood and with the absence of community-based rites of passage, children will turn to other outlets to assist them in this transition. For example they could turn to the media or their peers. This is dangerous because sometimes these “rites of passage” are harmful to the community and the individual. Examples could include binge drinking, drug use, or teen pregnancy.

The authors are arguing an interesting point here. When I think of adulthood, these pre-set age markers are what I equate with the full transition into adulthood. In America, when a citizen turns 21 they have the right to drink but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have earned that right. The idea behind the regulation is that people will have matured enough to know how to handle the responsibility but again there is no way of knowing everyone will be ready for that responsibility by a certain age. This is where things get tricky because there is no test to determine whether you are ready to consume alcohol. Driving a car is a different issue because that is a skill. Even with the 21 years old age limit set in place, children may begin drinking much younger than that and I know plenty of people that have.

There was a student in my brother’s grade who began using drugs very young and went far beyond the experimental stage. He became addicted to hard-core drugs and left before finishing his first year of high school. People often wonder what ended up happening to this student as no one has heard from him in a couple of years now. The student was very bright but needed something that was not quite being fulfilled. One could argue that the lack of meaningful, community-based rites of passage are what led him to the drug use in the first place. However, past that some people react very strongly to drugs and it could be his genetic makeup that got him on the path of dependency.

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein developed 20 elements of a proper rite of passage. The three elements that will be enhanced by my digital story are #5 #8 and #18. The fifth element that the authors present is “it must happen in the home community.” As study abroad students we have a new home community, which is heavily tied into a new geographic location. One of the purposes of our digital story is to show the world what our new home community has taught us. I am studying in Belgium and not many Americans have a thorough knowledge of the culture so one purpose of my digital story will be to educate. The eighth element presented in the list of 20 is “adversity or personal challenge.” Living in an entirely new community, we have all encountered adversity and personal challenge. The personal challenge that I am tackling right now is academics. At my university in Brussels the academics are very challenging. I walk a fine line between devoting the proper amount of time to my studies while exploring Belgium and beyond. The last element that will be enhanced by my digital story is “changes of appearance that express/ reflect new status.” When I studied abroad in Berlin, GE the very first trip I took was to Copenhagen. I had some Kronor left at the end of the trip and adopted this as a token of my study abroad experience. The Kronor has a hole in the middle of the coin and I turned this into a necklace. Everyday I am reminded that adventures are out there and to always keep moving. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what physical object I want to bring back with me from Belgium and I still have no idea. It might be interesting to use this as a theme for my digital story because this experience has been so many things that I cannot boil it down into one physical object.

Viewing examples of previous students digital stories was very helpful to me and I especially liked the one from the student who studied in Paris, France. I am also studying in a French speaking country so I related to the hesitancy to speak a foreign language at first. I liked the continuation of a single metaphor throughout the entire video and thought that was the element that made it so successful.

TL 14 “Global Connections & Rites of Separation”- Taylor Porter Paris, France

Richard Slimbach states that, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” (p. 54). Throughout my experience, I have found a lot of truth in this statement. Not only did I learn about other people and cultures, I also learned about myself. I have always considered myself to have an introverted, shy personality. My time here has allowed me to experience the extroverted side of myself that I didn’t know I had. I’ve made friends with groups of people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet at home.

During my time here, I have also rediscovered my appreciation for what I have at home. My entire life, all I could ever think about was getting out of my country and experiencing the world. After 4 months of traveling, all I can think about are the comforts of home that I normally take for granted. I miss the little things, like being able to communicate without constantly being self conscious about my accent, grammar, pronunciation, or if Google translate was correct. Having the opportunity to explore the wonders of another world made me realize that I haven’t even began to explore the wonders in my own back yard. When I go home in 7 days now, the first thing I am going to do is plan my next trip. Except on this trip, I want to travel the U.S and see more than just what the east coast has to offer.

The global connections I have made, through the forming of new friendships and expansion of knowledge, have groomed my understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. The journey to becoming a global citizen starts at the point of building awareness. However, true global citizenship involves taking this a step further; by taking that knowledge and turning it into action. I began my journey at a young age, when my parents forced me to start watching the 5:00 news. I was learning about what was going on around the world but only at arms length. Seeing it on a television from thousands of miles away is only a 2-dimensional view. While studying at the American Business School, I took an International Finance class. This class shaped my understanding of how the world works by showing me how my actions are capable of affecting the global community. On a smaller scale, every time I buy something that’s imported or invest in the stock market or even drive my car, I am making an impact on the global economy. I want to carry these connections forward by pursuing a career that allows me to study global trends.

My emotions as my time to departure draws near have honestly come as a shock to me. I expected to want to stay or to be sad, like what all of my friends are currently going through. However, I’m actually overjoyed to go back home! This terrifies me. I am in fact so overjoyed, that I can’t even enjoy my last week. I started packing so early that I actually had to unpack so I had clothes for the rest of the week. What does this say about my time abroad if I’m this happy to go home? Does it say that I didn’t have a good time, or that I’m not cut out to travel? Maybe I just didn’t do it right. I feel guilty when I talk to my friends who are so sad about leaving because I’m just thinking to myself, “why are they so sad? The U.S. isn’t THAT bad, it does happen contain all of my friends, family and everything I hold dear.” Everyone who I’ve ever talked to about study abroad has told me that I wont want to leave and that everything is better in Europe and I might even want to move here after.

I plan on spending my last day having a picnic under the Eiffel tower with the friends I have made during this journey. It truly seems like the perfect way to end my Persian adventure. I suppose I should be relieved I’m not heart broken over leaving. This should make the reincorporation process easier… right? Or will it be worse because I’m filling my head with all of this nostalgia of what home is like and am setting myself up for disappointment?

In my very first blog post, I used a quote from Clifton Fadiman that said, “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you feel comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” I used this quote to keep an open mind during my time here. Now that I look back at it, the words don’t make me think about the French culture, but the American culture and how everything about it is in place to make me feel comfortable.

This expression gives me clarity as to why I’m so excited to go home, and how I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Studying abroad was not supposed to make me forget about my own culture and encourage me to take on another, it was meant to help me appreciate other cultures. For some lucky people, studying abroad has opened their eyes to a new culture that makes them feel comfortable. But I was already lucky because I always had a culture that made me feel at home. So yes, I am leaving France without any desire to assume a new European lifestyle. It doesn’t mean that I enjoyed my experience any less than the people who aren’t as excited to go back.

Excited to be Reunited.

Excited to be Reunited.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Tory Parker. Holden, Massachusetts.

Arrivederci, Roma! I am back in the good old USA. I am so happy so see my family and friends but am missing Italy and all the experiences that I had during my time abroad. This first week home, as amazing and comforting as it was, did present some challenges. Jet lag is the most obvious, of course! More importantly, it has been a challenge for me not to compare things from home to those in Italy. The ways of life differ so much, it is hard not to find and form an opinion on these differences. It is important for me, however, to accept and appreciate those differences and focus more on the changes that I have gone through as an individual and less on the changes in my environment.

I shared my Reincorporation Letter with my parents, just as I shared my Separation Letter. The most important aspect of this exercise was explaining the idea of a healthy reincorporation and what they could do to help. I told them that as much as I may seem to be the same girl who hopped on a plane four months ago, the more we discuss my experience, the more they will see the changes that I have gone through. After I shared my letter, I think all of us felt more comfortable and more able to talk about my study abroad experience in a meaningful way. The quote I chose to share with them that helped to convey the opportunities a healthy reincorporation will allow me was, “The postsojourn process should help us to integrate the experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives” (Slimbach). I feel like this quote from Slimbach helped to explain that I will be using my experiences in all aspects of my life and not just leaving them in Italy. I feel as though my home community has not yet acknowledged my growth, but I did not expect them to the moment I stepped out of the airport. I have not seen my extended family members yet, but I expect that as I reunite with them and share my stories, they will see that I have grown as an individual through my study abroad experience.

One of the ideas that Slimbach suggested that stood out to me was number six, reduce junk food consumption. I noticed throughout my time in Italy that there was not much processed food. While there were junk food items such as gelato and cannolis, they were made with fresher ingredients than what we can find in the United States. I found that cutting the majority of processed foods out of my diet and replacing it with fresher foods for four months made a big difference in the way I feel. I am going to try to incorporate this change into my life at home, but will definitely sneak a few handfuls of Skittles and a few Twix bars every so often. I am only human! As for other habits that I have at home that changed while I was in Italy, most of them are relatively trivial things, like time spent in the shower. As of now, I do not think I will have any challenges when it comes to habit formation.

The quote I chose that expresses how I feel at this time is, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher. I feel as though this quote pretty much sums up my changes, growth and study abroad experience as a whole.

Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Incorporation” by Domenique DeLucia. East Haven, CT

I have been back in America for about a week now, and it’s been weird to say the least. I mean everything is pretty much the same, but then it’s pretty much not the same. A lot happens in 5 months I have learned. I drove for the first time, which was a crazy feeling, and just when I was finally getting used to people driving on the other side of the road, here I am having to drive on the “normal” side. So very odd. I will definitely miss public transportation, as weird as that sounds. Obviously, I love being able to dictate what time I get places, or at least be on my time and not someone else’s. Driving stresses me out, I have remembered, since being back and I just loved living in a city and being able to walk everywhere, it was amazing.

Life in America, pretty much stayed the same, but I came back with so many new experiences, and sometimes it’s hard to put into words how crazy adventure was, and trying to explain my friends that I had made there, since no one in my family actually knows them. I understand why some people come back not really liking America, or really not being able to communicate to others who didn’t go through the experience and just closing off. I love being home, as much as I miss my friends and my time in London. It’s time to get back to normalcy, or as normal as my life will make it anyway.

I shared my letter once again with my dad, because without him, this whole experience wouldn’t have been possible. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to step foot on one’s own country as a foreign land” (G.K. Chesterton). I think this quote, which was in the beginning of chapter 8, coincidentally, really resonates with what the reincorporation process is all about and how it will help me in the future. I didn’t think how much I would actually see America differently, and not in a bad way, just from a different point of view after living in another country. I think the people around me have been great so far, most of them just treat me the same. The day after I got back, I had a list of chores to do and things to help my dad around the house with. I was officially back to reality. They have been really great with wanting to see pictures and ask questions, but also being able to do it in a way where they act like I am a totally different person because I wasn’t here for 5 months and missed out on a bunch of things. It’s probably because most of the people that I spend the most time around, I always updated them with things that were happening with me so it’s not like I had a million things dumped on me at once.

To carry this experience forward with my family and community is to definitely print pictures and have them in my room so that they can see them or view them on Facebook and be able to look at them whenever they want to, and have a reminder that for those 5 months I was so doing this amazingly awesome thing. I don’t want to be the person who always brings it up in conversations with people, I don’t want to brag. It was a huge part of my life though, so I try to make some type of picture album or what not for people to see and look at whenever. Another thing that I want to do is, to just hold on the choices and decisions I made while I was abroad for myself. I think that I grew a lot as an individual, that I become more open with myself and comfortable being uncomfortable. I am usually very shy and I made it a point, to try and break out of my shell while I was there because I knew that would be the best way for the me to make the most of the limited time that I had there with these people.

As they say, old habits die hard, and they do. I still have some moments where I overthink situations, and feel ignored or unwanted in a conversation or a place and it happened to me a little in the beginning of my time abroad, and I was able to get over that a little bit because we were all together, living through the same thing. I will definitely need to hope that I don’t revert back to my old ways seeing that I am back with the people that make me feel this way, but I know that I have this group of people that I can text and call and be able to have a great conversation with and feel like I am wanted in a conversation, and it will be and get better. I am not worried. This experience has really changed my life, and I am so glad that I took the risk, took a leap of faith and have such wonderful memories of a time that I can’t even believe happened to me.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” I am so incredibly grateful and thankful for this journey. I was able to see and do things that I thought I would never do in my lifetime. I met incredible people. I got to learn how to fly a broom at “Hogwarts” and climb up Arthur’s Seat. When I first decided to go on this journey, I thought it was because I wanted a change of scenery, a fresh start to something else, a new chapter in a way, but I learned a long the way that I wasn’t try to get away from anything, I was just running towards all the great things that I wanted in life and going abroad was a way for me to learn things about myself that will make all the things that I want to do with my life much more possible. I see them happening, rather than it just being a dream or an idea.

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Separation” by Domenique DeLucia. London, England

Eight days. 8. Single digits. That’s all I have left in this beautiful place. For the past 134 days of my life, I have been spending it exploring and discovering parts of the world that I didn’t even think existed, and didn’t ever think I would see in person. It’s crazy how fast time goes by, and how in the beginning you can’t possibly fathom staying here for 5 months with complete strangers, and then when it’s all over you can’t possibly fathom being without these strangers that are now friends. Life is funny sometimes, in a twisted way. The people you meet while traveling, you will never forget because you experienced something magical together that no one else in the world can relate to. This experience has changed my life, and I honestly cannot believe that it is coming to an end.

A couple of the people that are in my friend group have left already and some are leaving a couple days before the end, and it’s surreal to think that the faces that have surrounded me for 5 months, won’t be there anymore and for most, you honestly don’t know when you will see them again. We had this amazing dinner together, one where we reminisced about all the things that we have done and accomplished together over this crazy 11262090_1037414489609819_7431375693772425485_nadventure. We shared what we thought of each other in the beginning and how much each of us have changed our collective lives. I decided that we should go around the table and just talk about what the best part of the experience was, and if all the expectations and aspirations that we all had, were accomplished in our time abroad. I love these people, they have become life long friends, they will always have a piece of me, and where ever I go from here, they will always be with me. I shared laughs with these people, hilarious stories and crazy adventures. I never thought that you could miss a place so much while you are actually still in it. I still have so much left to do, and I have a fear it won’t all get done.

I have never been the type of person who shows their emotions very well, I am pretty preserved on that front but this experience and these people changed that. I needed to tell these people how I felt and how the journey we conquered together was one for the ages. I am not sure anything will ever top the things I have been able to do. I have no words, yet I have so much to say. A quote that really resonates with my time abroad would be “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware” – Martin Buber. I didn’t know what mine was, I just thought that I would studying in a new scenery, away from 1503426_10206170713052598_5922499100309279870_nwhat I knew and the everyday stuff. I thought I was escaping, but it wasn’t at all what I was doing. I was just figuring out how to be comfortable being me, which I wasn’t before. I needed to stop caring about others would think of me if I said this joke or put myself out there. I just needed to be myself and let others just accept it, and this has just shown be that I have more courage and willpower than I ever thought I was capable of having. I am so incredibly blessed to be in this position. I am also incredibly sad that I will have to say goodbye to this city, to these people and to this journey. It was incredible and I will never forget it.

Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” by Leah Chernick. Paris, France.

After watching Half of the Sky I was speechless. Half of the Sky is brings the reader into the real world with stories of the oppression and social issues women and girls living in developing countries face. It is a truly eye opening documentary that brings you into the lives of what women are facing in developing countries. Half of the Sky made me realize how many freedoms I take for granted, whether is be the ability to walk down the street without any dangers or fresh running water. Many of the issues these women and girls are facing are due to the fact that their culture does not believe in women’s rights. They are deprived of many basic rights I take for granted, such as education and proper health and medical services.

All too often we are aware of such oppression issues of women and girls in developing countries such as sexual violence, but put them to the back of our mind. We realize that these issues are happening around the world, but most of us don’t take the time to explore them or invest ourselves in activism with the issues. Much too often with issues we are self absorbent in the fact that we think in the mentality “if its not my problem why should I care.” A great aspect about this book was not only did it make me realize how prevalent and heart wrenching these issues are but also how to become involved in helping solve these issues by just helping out one person’s life.

Rape is a major issue worldwide from women, such as the cases in Half the Sky to college campuses. This social issue that was a theme throughout Half the Sky really hit home for me because last semester my journalism classmates and I did a semester long project on sexual violence on college campuses It is totally overlooked and put under the cover. We know its happening around us, but do little to promote the education of sexual violence and also the lack of reporting of such rape and sexual violent acts are completely overlooked. The amount of these acts that go unreported on college campuses let alone in developing countries is truly disgusting and disgraceful to our own selves. One of the reasons rape incidents go unreported is because women are afraid to speak up or don’t know who to go to. This is certainly true on college campuses and in developing countries, there is no place to speak up about such acts. Chapter three, “Learning to Speak Up” was about certainly insightful of what women around the world need to be doing to put an end to sexually violence acts. It shared the story of Usha, a very strong, educated young woman and her fight against Akku Yadav who ruled a gang who controlled Kasturba Nagar in India. Akku Yaday terrorized Kasturba Nagar with disgustingly violent and sexually violent acts to women and girls in Kasturba Nagar. Usha was strong and intelligent and despite Akku Yaday’s threats and terroristic acts to her and fought against his acts to the women of Kasturba Nagar to end this terroristic reign. “Empowerment” is a cliché in the aid community, but it is truly what is needed. The first step toward greater justice is to transform that culture of female docility and subservience, so that women themselves because more assertive and demanding” (53). It is women like Usha who stood up for what was right and demanded an end to Akku Yaday. Women in developing countries need more women like Usha or a band of women who promote their basic human rights and revolutionize themselves. Without women like Usha, no one will stand up for these women to protect them of what they deserve. As a Communications major, getting the message out is a vital role in helping change social issues globally. Raising awareness through different channels of communications is one way we can help put an end to women’s oppression in developing countries.

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Ryan Stuebe. London, England.

In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally. – Blumenkrantz & Goldstein

I believe that the relaxation of rite of passage rituals presents issues to both American society and also cultures around the world. Without the rituals, there is very little structure for today’s youth to grow and thrive on. As a result of this, we are experiencing small counter-cultures in all parts of the world. Examples of these could be anything from a group of neighborhood bullies to a large organization like ISIS. Each of these groups is established by lack of proper education and a structured home life. I personally did not experience the issues that arise from lack of rite of passage because I come from a very structured home life. I do know people who have been affected by lack of structure in their lives. Unfortunately, this lack of structure pushes these individuals to resist mainstream society in ways that may be inappropriate or harmful to others. Interestingly, I believe this lack of traditional rite of passage has better enabled me to go abroad and experience the world beyond the borders of the United States. Conservatism and American idealism are not ideal for branching out and trying new things. While my family is very structured, we are a hybrid between conservative and liberal. I have come to greatly appreciate this during my time abroad. My rites of passage at home have given me the strength to realize the value of my own existence, while also valuing the existence of others in all parts of the world. I believe that the world needs to implement a structured, yet tolerant and open-minded approach to educating our youth. Through the careful consideration of rites of passage and globalization, we can create a bountiful world of fulfillment, cooperation, and prosperity.

The elements of rite of passage that I want to adopt in my digital story are adversity or personal challenge, play, and opportunities to demonstrate new competencies and status. I think these three elements are especially effective in guiding my family and friends through my separation, liminality, and reincorporation into society. Some of my greatest learning experiences abroad are the result of a struggle I faced in leaving home and adapting to life in a foreign country. To pretend that these struggles never occurred would be an unfair and an unrealistic account of my experiences. In understanding these struggles, I hope those around me can better understand how I have grown as an individual.

Another element I want to include is play. Going abroad has been, undoubtedly, the most incredible and fulfilling experience I have ever had. I have been awarded the opportunity to travel to many different countries, exploring the culture and beauty of cities throughout Europe. These past few months have me in a state of sheer bliss. By sharing my happiness and excitement with my friends and family, I hope to engage them through their feelings of excitement for me. I know this with be particularly true for my family, who lives vicariously through my experiences and travels.

Finally, I want to demonstrate my new competencies and how that has changed my status in society. Living in London has taught me so much about cultures from all around the world. This experience has challenged me to view the world in new ways, embracing every unknown as a new opportunity. I have learned the benefits of closing my mouth and opening ears. Every person has a story to tell and there is so much that can be learned by listening. While cultural education has dominated my experiences abroad, I have also learned other new skills that have changed me. I have learned to relinquish my control over some situations and go with the flow. This has allowed me to travel down paths of discovery that I would have, otherwise, been too fearful to explore. I am also quite proud of my success in learning about London itself. While this skill may be difficult to apply to my life in America, I believe that my newfound, open-minded, calm, and collected outlook will serve me well in my future. Study abroad has taught me to roll with the punches and embrace the unknown, which are invaluable characteristics.

The digital story that struck me that most was Rachel Cox’s account of her study abroad experience in Paris, France. I loved the way Rachel compared her emotions, experiences, and overall growth to the blossoming trees in Paris. As the viewer this really helped me better understand the transformation that Rachel went through and allowed me to view her experiences on a deeper level. When I was listening to her story, I could relate to Rachel’s feelings of angst and disconnection when she first arrived, as well as, how those feelings transformed into a love for her surroundings and host culture. I also enjoyed how Rachel talked about her interactions with her elderly neighbor. Sharing these encounters gave her story an incredible authenticity. The study abroad experience is often consumed by notions of endless travel and classified by a wealth of cultural experiences, but we often forget that our greatest education comes from the smallest daily interactions with our host cultures. When I finished watching Rachel’s digital story, I had a true appreciation for her Parisian experiences and how that made her better, more cultured and informed individual.

Travelogue 8: Wise for the World Part 2. Brian Costello. Dunedin, New Zealand.

Slimbach describes what it is like to have a consumerist/entitlement and outlines why this attitude has developed in the following quote “Pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners…who then carry back to campus assorted symbolic reminders of having ‘been there.’ ” I feel that this definition of this mentality is present in a lot of Americans but I feel that it is selectively applied to certain regions. I believe that Slimbach is referring to American study abroad students that are studying abroad in Europe specifically. The reason for this is because Europe is an extremely diverse place that is easily traveled either by train or plane with ease. For those students, I believe Slimbach is correct in his interpretation of the consumerist mentality. Take for example the vast majority of QU students that either went to Spain or Italy. I am not saying that these are not great and unique places to study abroad, but there is definitely some dilution in the students abroad experience. One factor being that the students most likely do not speak the native language of the country they are studying abroad in and will make a petty attempt at trying to learn the language. They may come back knowing a few common phrases and words, but being there for four months you should at least have more knowledge about the language than that. Another factor would be that a lot of universities in Europe, where English is not their main language, have separate schools for study abroad students and sometimes just Americans. This can greatly affect how Americans experience their host country, because it could just end up being an American college experience in a different time zone as Slimbach describes it. The last factor is that Europe is made of many different countries, each with their own unique culture and language. Visiting one country for a weekend event with your mates isn’t going to give you the full cultural experience that you should have while abroad. That being said I do understand the limitations imposed on some students whether they be financial or time constricting, so getting the full experience is difficult and costly.

Personally, I am guilty of hanging out with Americans more than I should be. The way I engage with Americans however, I think is different than most. I use my American friends as sort of a safety net in case an attempt at becoming culturally aware back fires. For example, when heading to bars I typically go with a group of Americans because it provides a sense of safety for me. Once I enter the bar I stick with the Americans until I feel that it is time to venture and take a chance at getting to know other people. Most of the time these other people are from different parts of the world and I end up hanging out with them the rest of the night. Having that metaphorical safety net gives me the confidence to go take risks knowing that there is someone to always fall back on.

While Slimbach makes a good point about Americans having this mentality, I believe that it is not just Americans that have this stereotype. Here in Dunedin I found that there is always a tendency for people to congregate towards people from their same country or region. Take for example the Europeans in my complex. They have made note that many Americans are afraid to venture out and talk to other people, but when it comes down to it, all the UK people stick together in the bars and rarely talk to anyone else. Same goes for the Brazilians, Germans, Czechs, and Italians. When it comes down to it, there is no way that you cannot travel this way, even if you try. Eventually you will meet someone from back home and most likely end up spending most of your time with them (Unless you’re a German backpacker who always seem to try and avoid other Germans at all costs!). I feel that as long as you stick to the main goal of trying to be a mindful traveler instead of the stereotypical American tourist, you should be able to enjoy the culture(s) you are exposed to.

This is a picture of me and my homies getting ready to go to Hyde Street for the annual Hyde Street party. I was debating on whether to go to this event or not, but my Kiwi host convinced me to go when she said “If you don’t go your experience in Dunedin will never be fulfilled.” If it weren’t for the travelogue in the previous week this quote would not have resonated with me as much as it did. To fulfill my goal as a mindful traveler I feel as if I had to experience this event.

Hoods on Hyde

Hoods on Hyde

Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Kilian Smith. Berlin, Germany.

The world today is a vast network of interwoven connections between countries, communities, organizations, and individuals. Since the dawn of the computer age, the world has entered a period of intense globalization. Globalization is a process of interaction and integration between the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. Living in Berlin for the semester, I have had the opportunity to observe first hand the process of globalization and its effects on the community. First of all, Berlin is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It is not uncommon to hear Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, English, and German being spoken on the subway all at the same time. Berlin is also one of the most independent, free, and technologically advanced cities in the world. These conditions make Berlin a perfect place for the process of globalization to take root. One of the most vivid instances that I witnessed the effects of globalization was when I ate my first Donner Kebab. The Donner Kebab is a Turkish invention that consists of a crispy bread pita filled with mounds of lamb, lettuce, cabbage, and delicious sauces. Beyond the fact that it is a phenomenal meal for only 3 Euros, it shows globalization in the sense that a Turkish dish has become a staple in Berlin. It is sac religious to visit Berlin and not enjoy one. Another effect of globalization that I have seen in Berlin is the dichotomy between East and West Berlin. Beginning in 1945 and ending in 1989, Berlin was divided by a massive wall that kept the East under Soviet control and the West under Allied control. Due to Soviet values, the East was left isolated and technologically stagnant, but today you cannot see any differences in the quality of life between East and West Berlin. Globalization has allowed the East to catch up to the West and created a city that is unified, independent, free, and able to compete economically on a global scale.

The benefits of globalization are undeniable: business transactions have skyrocketed, people have become more accepting of diversity, and third world countries are now given the opportunity to compete in the global economy. However, globalization has also contributed to some of the many problems communities face today. In his essay “Encountering Globalization”, Kevin Robins states, “Old certainties and hierarchies of identity are called into question in a world of dissolving boundaries and disrupted continuities.” (Robins) This is one of the issues that globalization causes: as more cultures come in contact with one another, cultural identities are being dissolved or morphed into things that are unlikely to resemble what they had been 30 years ago. In Berlin, there is a huge problem of gentrification. As the EU opens up borders to developing European countries and Berlin continues to become a world-renowned city, more and more immigrants come here to live and work. This causes native Berliners much angst as their jobs are eaten up and the cost of living increases and in turn causes them to discriminate against the immigrants. Berliners for example, do not look upon the Turks fondly. Not only is their loud and imposing demeanor against everything Germans stand for, but they are coming to Berlin in herds due to family ties and work opportunities. The Berlin identity is changing and native Berliners need to realize that this will continue to happen for years to come. In order to prevent their identities from being totally destroyed, Berliners must keep the historical aspects of their community alive through practice but in a way that embraces globalization and respects the diverse cultures that Berlin attracts.

Just as there is diversity in Berlin, there is extensive diversity between the Germans themselves. A German from Hamburg has completely different views and values than a German from Munich. I have been fortunate enough to speak with Germans from all over the country and although they may be from different areas in Germany itself, they share the commonality of being German citizens. Just as Germans share this commonality, all citizens of the world share the commonality of contributing to a global community. We need to realize that in a globalized world, every action has an effect not only on your immediate community but the global community as a whole. The simple act of throwing your trash on the ground will effect your community and the animals in Africa, babies in India, and farmers in Indonesia. Globalization has been a blessing for the world but has also brought the world closer to destruction than it has ever been. Litter is everywhere, the ozone layer is being depleted, and the polar ice caps are melting. This is not a situation that the world can sustain much longer. In order to prevent the destruction of our world, the countries, communities, organizations, and individuals that have become so interconnected by globalization must make choices that not only benefit themselves but also the community around them. When every human being on earth makes these choices, the powerful benefits of globalization and the beauty of cultural identity can be embraced in a form that is mutually beneficial.

The picture below is one that I took of a structure on the Spree river in Berlin that is three men locked in each others grasp. I chose this picture because I feel it symbolizes the conflicting ideas of globalization and the specific cultures that each area of the world holds. As the world becomes more interconnected, identities begin to change, combine, and disappear. This is concerning to people who identify them selves as a specific nationality, being from a specific region, or being a certain ethnicity. Our identities are who we are and when something threatens who we are, we naturally are frightened by it. But globalization is not going away anytime soon and will only become more aggressive as time goes on. Therefore, we must embrace who we are and where we come from but not forget that a little change is never a bad thing.

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