Travel Log 15: “Rites of Reincorporation” by Janine Jay. Old Greenwich, Connecticut

I hauled by 100+ pound bags across the whole of London, to Heathrow with my muscles shaking by the end of it. I finally got to sit down on the plane for 8 hours and in that time leaving this new home of mine it really started to hit me that the past five months were really coming to a conclusion. Could I really be going home already? I started to make a mental list to see that I’d covered everything on my London bucket list. It seemed like the plane was going through a portal taking me to a new world I had known forever, but that will never be the same to me after this journey. After piling my bags in the car and cuddling my puppy in the back seat, my parents told me that the dog had started to bark out the window and get excited even before I had left the airport; she somehow knew I was there. To me that was the sign that I was where I belonged. If there is one thing that I have absolutely learned from this trip, it’s that home is where your loved ones are, the memories and good times will always follow that.

It’s hard to believe that I was thousands of miles away only a week ago but since coming home it’s been a whirlwind of family visits and endless questions about what my favorite part was. (I still can’t answer that myself, I loved everything!) I think the hardest part of this all was trying to finish everything I needed to do in the week I was home amidst my parents packing for a trip of their own and half of my house being under construction. But amongst this chaos is home, my family has always been a fast-paced group of people who always are moving onto the next adventure. If I had come home to everything orderly, then it simply wouldn’t have been home. Besides, who wants to slow down when there is so much life to live?

In my letter of reincorporation, I shared a quote by Paul Fussel who commented, “In that travel provides at least temporary escape from inherited traditions and personal identity, it can be seen as an act of rebellion, a means of separating oneself from the dominant influences of kith and kin in order to define and assert an identity of our own. I travel; therefore, I am.” (2010, pg. 203) This quote struck me because it showed to my parents how this experience has changed me as an individual, separate from my family ties and now it is my mission to combine the new person I am with the communities I’ve grown up in. My parents were very supportive of all that I have done in the past few months and continue to be supportive every day. They always helped me out when I had a question and always offered ideas of things to do in the places I visited so that I could experience everything that I could. They made sure that I was comfortable and ready for each next step. It means the world to me that I have them as a support system. I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad in the first place, physically or emotionally without them.

Now that I am back in the states, I have been looking for ways to make sure that the patterns I had learned in Europe continued in my life here. As I read Slimbach’s paragraph on habits, I remembered how I had started to create routines during my journey that were really beneficial. When I started my time in London I made my bucket list, so that I would always have a next step of what to do. I learned to plan ahead and to make sure that every day I left the dorm by mid-morning so that I would experience everything I could instead of remembering my time from inside a dorm room. These routines and rules let me explore areas of London that I hadn’t known existed before just from walking around aimlessly. To continue with these patterns here, I plan on keeping my mid-morning rule and to create a bucket list for each new phase of my life- including both my internship this summer, and senior year. I learned to be a more relaxed person in Europe and enjoy everything that comes my way. As Slimbach remarks, “Realize that, in the end, explaining one’s personal transformation is not nearly as important as living it.” (2010, pg. 210) I want to show all of the people around me that Europe has changed me for the better and that and that as a result I will bring the ideals I have learned there with me everywhere I go.

 

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

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“Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Community based rituals are simply absent from the American culture, and this creates large problems in the development of our young adults. In my experience growth can be stunted or go unrecognized because of the lack of a ritual signifying a life transition. While this ritual can manifest in multiple ways it there is no real equivalent besides graduating either high school or college. That ceremony is supposed to be a cookie cutter ritual representative of your journey and growth through your education. The issue with it is it is to universal and does not necessarily teach a lesson. To contrast the American way the thing that comes to mind for me is the Australian culture for young adults. It is extremely common for university student aged kids to have lived on their own for a few years during school. Usually they will pay for themselves, buy an apartment, pay for their own food, have a job. Doing this teaches them responsibility, and allows them to learn to fend for themselves. Yet furthermore after they have reached the peak, graduation, they will continue their learning by doing what is called a walk-about; which is basically a culturally accepted and encouraged exploration of the world. This is meant to further your worldly understanding and is a community ritual that signifies a life transition.

From my perspective the American equivalent of this should be a study abroad semester. I believe that everyone should be required to take a semester abroad; it should be a part of the American education system. I think it is an incredible experience, while it can be extremely difficult that is what makes it amazing. You learn so much about the outside world and begin to understand other peoples. In this way you can begin to better understand yourself and gain an inner confidence knowing that you know the things that you like and can feel empowered to accomplish your goals.

This being said creating a digital story is a good ritual to allow for the full reflection upon your personal journey during your abroad experience. It can be representative of a life change, and allows you to realize where you were to where you are now which can be an extremely powerful tool for understanding. I will use my digital story to sit and reflect on my personal journey and growth, as well as looking to the future. When I get back to the USA I will be beginning my internship and starting my career. The following school year will be entirely dedicated to planning out the next few years of my life, as I have no real plans up until this point. I want to use my experience abroad in Budapest, Hungary as a stepping stone to launch my next area of growth and experience. I realize that I would really enjoy living and working in a different portion of the world and would love to spend and extended amount of time in another place. My goal will be to land a job in a different country on a different continent that I have never been to before. I believe this will give me an opportunity to learn and grow more so than any other job that I could obtain back in the United States.

I do not think there are really any digital stories that would speak to me more than another simply because the only thing that I will connect to is the fact that each person that comes abroad feels as though they have grown and enjoyed their experience here. Yet each person has an entirely unique form of growth that was beneficial for them, for this reason I will not feel personally connected to anyone in particular’s story. I do believe that the best way to represent the experience is through discussing how you have changed and what was important to you. A monologue of your experience is good but it is more important to talk about the personal growth and understanding you had. For this reason I am going to write as honestly as I can and describe all of the highs and the lows and what it means to travel abroad.

“Service” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The impact of volunteering can be unimaginable. I have been engaged in volunteering my whole life. My first experience with volunteering was coaching a recreational basketball team in my home town of Bolton, Connecticut. This was one of my favorite experiences to date; I began this journey in my sophomore year of high school. I continued my coaching career for the next three years and absolutely loved every minute of it. It was amazing because I was able to have such a great impact on the kids that I was coaching, not only was I able to teach them a sport that I loved to play myself, but I was also able to teach them about life, respecting one another, and having fun. Being able to teach them and watch them grow over the three years that I had some of the kids was an amazing experience and to this day if I see the parents of the kids or the kids themselves we always stop and have a chat because of the impact that we had on each other. These kids not only were a lot of fun but they also taught me a lot about myself and what I was capable of. Volunteering has a funny way of giving back to the one doing the service; I felt enlightened and in improved by experience. Not only did I become a better leader from learning about the players and understanding their motivations, but furthermore I became a better individual. I learned the importance of listening to one another and the concept of seeking to understand and then to be understood.

I brought my service experiences with me abroad, especially in my first journey to Guatemala. This service trip was centered on helping the students at a school by developing their marketing through computers. But furthermore we interacted with the students and learned about their daily life so that we may have a better understanding of the impact that we would have upon the school. It was an incredible experience that was humbling as well as enlightening. This experience taught me about the opportunity that is truly available to us in the United States. The education system in Guatemala includes educating the students on how to be successful in a tourist market, which was astounding to me. While they would learn math, science, and how to read and write, these basic subjects were supplemented by classes where they would learn to make products to sell to tourists. This was eye-opening that the best opportunity lied within tourism and that education would not be useful to the students without this.

My service in Budapest has been to help students in middle to high school learn English. I have discussed before in previous journals that English has become a lucrative tool for students and is why it is taught in most schools. Yet it is another example of how opportunity is limited in other nations. It is more economical to learn English at a young age in the same way that the kids in Guatemala learn how to make bracelets. By adapting to their circumstances and understanding what will likely be the most beneficial to their well-being, education systems have adapted. Yet it essentially requires that the world caters to the larger cultures as not only are they one of the more influential, but it is the economically intelligent decision to adapt and adopt. Yet in my volunteering experience the children had an amazing impact on me as they have become extremely friendly to me. They wish to constantly learn and understand because they find English and American culture fascinating; this has allowed me to learn about their culture as well. I think it is extremely important to learn about foreign cultures as it creates a much greater context. It is clear that the American culture is in a way taught in other school systems, yet we do not necessarily have that experience in America, which makes it easy to turn a blind eye and go your entire life without understanding another culture. This is why I believe it is extremely important to travel otherwise you will never be able to fully understand people, and interpret why people do the things they do. The more culture you can understand the more universally you can see humanity shine through surface interactions.

 

“Holding up Half the Sky” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The overall message of the book Half the Sky can be described as understanding how women are oppressed around the world. Every corner of the Earth has some form of oppression and a large portion of that is directed at women. While every nation has a varying degree to which this oppression comes to fruition, it is important to note that any oppression or disparity is not acceptable. Even in America there is clearly still a disparity in the way we approach women’s issues as well as their role in the work place. It is still common that women are unable to advance past certain points in their career and are often paid less for the same work. Furthermore even the way we approach women’s products the sheer fact that they are not included under the protection of some insurance plans is incredulous.

I think one of the stories of that really impacts me is Hillary Clinton’s. Personally I have a connection to Hillary as she was my Aunt’s employer for an extended period of time, but furthermore she was one of the first women to ever have a chance to take the presidency. She was the first women to be the democrat’s presidential candidate, and once that was the case immediately the misogyny began. Here we have an extremely qualified, intelligent, and successful woman who had dedicated her entire life to this country through the means of being a public servant and doing things in the name of woman and other poorly represented communities. Yet when brought to the eye of the public in what has been called on e of the dirtiest campaigns of all time often Hillary was subjected to stereotyping and treatment based on her gender. I believe that one of the harshest examples of this was the fact that often the ridicule that she was given was not for mistakes that she had made throughout her career but rather that of her husband. I remember distinctly a moment when at the time presidential candidate Trump, now acting president, came after her relationship with her husband and his actions. This is something that would never be brought to the attention of a man and his wife’s actions and in fact is amazing that this statement even had any traction. A debate is supposed to be about discussing the important topics that the people of this nation want to know. Yet we were forced to witness the petty misogynistic comments simply because of the gender of one of the candidates.

While currently I study Computer Information Systems and Finance, it is my goal to eventually study economic policy and decision making so that I can make an impact in the political sphere locally as well as globally. One of my main focuses is the economic disparity between men and women. One of the largest arguments in favor of the disparity between men and women has historically been that women are more likely to get pregnant and leave work either for maternity leave or permanently. This added risk is often the reason or excuse for the gap in pay even if the work is the same. Objectively this makes sense from a business perspective, yet morally this is an injustice and can be solved by simple economic policy that is active in other developed nations. The concept of mandatory paternity and maternity leave is enforced on companies, which eliminates this risk by leveling the playing field. If both the mother and father are required to take this leave then the only disparity between a man and a woman should be their education and work performance. This is an economic tool that should allow for the gap to be closed further. Furthermore paternity leave shows that it is extremely helpful in a child’s development as well as aides in decreasing stress on a relationship and allows for happier individuals. This is good for the nation as well as improves productivity at work, because it allows for a greater work-life balance reducing stress and improving effectiveness.

“Encountering Globalization” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Globalization has become one of the largest focuses across many intellectual spheres. Whether it be politics, business, or academia, all spheres agree that it is happening and the effects are so grand that it is hard to determine whether or not it is having a positive or negative impact on the world. From my perspective it is happening no matter what we do, so it is imperative that we minimize the negative effects and work towards positive global change. In my last journal I discussed a very interesting conversation that I had with another student who was abroad from Japan. This was one of the many examples where people from all around the world have come to study in Budapest and at my university, Corvinus. The university is largely a global community; I have met individuals from over twenty different countries. This fact alone shows globalization occurring constantly. While there are classes taught in Hungarian, a majority of the classes here are taught in English. This is because English has become the language of business and is one of the most necessary ways to communicate with people around the world. This is an example of globalization because it directly notes how business is a force for cultural change. It is economically advantageous to learn English if it is not your first language because not only does large nations like England and America speak English, but it has become the language of Europe. If you wish to travel between nations here it is expected that you know some English, as this will likely be the mutually learned language between the two countries.

The global community at Corvinus also drives other discussion and brings in completely varied concepts and ideas. I believe that any intellectual discussion had whether in an academic setting or a more casual interaction, adds to the progression of globalization. In my Organizational Behavior class we are constantly having discussions on how there are different frames of though in varying places. One of the first classes we had the professor had us do an exercise where we had to write down three separate problems, one that applied to our home community, one that applied to our home nation, and one that applied to the global community. What was extremely interesting to me is that a lot of the problems were similar especially when it came to people’s view of their home nation and the global community. For example, the man next to me a fellow master’s level student from Germany had the exact same problem with the global community as I. We both wrote the singular word, “populism”. While we both had separate reasons for this we both recognized the growing trend of how nationalism and populism were leading to some of the world’s largest issues. In America currently we are dealing with a populist movement spearheaded by President Donald Trump. Yet in other nations there are similar leaders and events that are based in nationalist pride and populism. England had Brexit was entirely backed by a populist movement who believed that their nation was the best and was being held back by the European Union, but largely were uneducated about what the real consequences were for leaving. Furthermore in the French elections there was Le Pen who was entirely a populist and blamed France’s issues entirely on immigrants from other nations endangering the prosperity of their nation. This being said the political landscape seems to be shifting as people recognize the impact of blindly following a nationlist. One of the large reason that Le Pen has recently suffered a large defeat was due to how poorly some of these populist movements have done after they had been put into place.

This all being said it is extremely interesting to watch the landscape constantly change around us, and being in a large community made up of extremely varying cultures and peoples allows for productive and interesting conversation. This sharing of ideas really has led to a better understanding of the globe and the positions that average educated students have about their respective nations

Travelogue 15: “There’s no place like home,” Breanna Hegarty. Whitehouse, New Jersey.

While on the plane back home my biggest fear was that everything would be different back home, that everyone has changed and that I wouldn’t fit in. Yet as I sat with my friends and family during my welcome home (reincorporation) barbeque I realized that my biggest struggle wasn’t with those who have changed but those who have remained the same. Unlike most people who come back home from abroad to the same lifestyle and home, I came back home to a mostly different life. I came back home to a new house, a different car, a new born baby and a new job. For me, everything was different and new, which made my reincorporation a little easier because I was so focused with adapting to all of those new changes instead of going through the same old routine. It wasn’t until being around my parents, who haven’t changed at all, did I realize how much I actually changed. They acted as if I had never left and wanted me to pick up exactly where I left off, yet I found myself unable to do that. It felt wrong, I wasn’t that person anymore. My Parents cared little about my experience abroad and focused more on the fact that I was finally back. The best way I could explain myself and my experience to them was that “I found a new self” (Simbach, p. 210). I couldn’t exactly describe how I have changed, it just felt as though I am more awake, aware of the world and what it has to offer. I didn’t find myself caring about frivolous things and cared more about the bigger picture of my life. To better help both myself and my family and friends adjust to the new me was to tell them and myself to be patient and open to the changes to come and to not force myself back into the old routine. One change that I intend on taking from my experience abroad is to limit the amount of waste we produce on a daily basis by: walking more, limiting the amount of electricity we use while also emphasizing recycling and compost. Also the most beneficial daily practice that I took from abroad and Simbach, that I want to incorporate into my new life and the lives of those around me, is taking time from the day to connect with nature and reflect. I also intend on bringing global knowledge and awareness to the QU community through the Irish club that I am now president of.

 

Although my experience abroad has forever changed me and will be with me forever, I do not find myself homesick for it, just like I did not find myself homesick for America while in Ireland. And I think it’s because for me home is where I make it. I will never forget Ireland and the home I made there, but now it’s time for my next adventure. I also know that it is never goodbye, but simply, till next time. Simbach perfectly depicted my idea of what home means to me, he states “Home isn’t just a physical space we inhabit, but relationships, places and rituals that we learn to assemble wherever we are” (p.208). My goal throughout life is to expand my “home” as much as I can. I want to continue traveling and learning about the world, because the more I learn and experience the world, the more I begin to notice who I really am as a person.

 

 

Sources:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC., 2010. Print.

Travel Log 15: “There’s no place like home? Rites of Reincorporation” By Ryan Bonitz. Huntington, New York.

Each semester at Quinnipiac I have had friends return from their semester abroad claiming that they are a “new person.” To be honest, I previously thought that was an over-exaggeration. Prior to this semester I was already well traveled, so I wondered if people felt changed because it was their first time seeing the world outside of the US. I quickly learned that these previous travel experiences were nothing in comparison to physically living in the host country. The level of discomfort rises dramatically when you don’t get to return home a week or two after arrival. At the same time, it also makes the experience significantly more rewarding. Therefore, the process of separation from my host country has been nothing like anything I have ever experienced. Slimbach states: “Smooth transitions and trial-free sojourns are rarities. No matter how well prepared, broad-minded, or full of good intentions we may be, entering a new culture knocks our cultural props out from under us. We spend decades learning ‘the ropes’ for effective functioning within our own society. Then, without warning, our mental programming is upset” (pg 152). As Slimbach explains, the process of assimilating to our new culture was quite arduous. So how are we supposed to just get up and leave after all the mental and physical work we put into becoming someone new? Which ‘ropes’ do we now follow, the ones we grew up learning or the new ones we learned in our host country?

Leaving Barcelona was very hard, but at this point necessary as I became the sickest I have ever been after a weekend in Morocco. It was just this week that I was taken off of constant medication. Of course I miss the freedom of living in such a big and beautiful city, along with a new adventures every weekend. However, the hardest adjustment for me has been the reincorporation process here in America. I feel like part of me is still in Spain. Here I feel more restricted than ever. I can’t just walk out my front door to a new adventure. Friends, food, and fun activities just feel so far away. People want to hear about my time in Spain, but after a few minutes they begin to appear bored. People don’t want to hear all the funny stories or amazing adventures you experienced with your newfound friends. At the same time, it’s hard to tell them these stories because they don’t quite understand or appreciate what you have seen and done.

It’s been hard for me to look at my hometown the same since returning home. Huntington has been my home all my life; I have always loved it for its large size and high energy. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my life here. But it’s hard not to feel like my surroundings have shrunk. My large Long Island town doesn’t feel so huge anymore, and the people aren’t as perfect as I thought they were. Meeting people from all over the world has given me a new perspective as to what it really means to be a global citizen. I have definitely noticed some changes in my everyday habits. The first day home (unfortunately spent seeing multiple doctors for my mystery illness from Morocco) I said hola to the first stranger I saw. I know that’s a small thing, but it showed me how comfortable I had become speaking the local language that it was just second nature. I even nearly left a restaurant without tipping (oops).

I shared my separation letter with my best friend Kerry. I wanted to share it with my parents, but I think I need more time for that. They are so happy that I had such a great experience, that I am not ready to tell them how unhappy I am to be back in the states. Of course it is not because of them, but I would hate for them to take it that way, as if they are inferior to Barcelona. I have seen Kerry a few times since my arrival. However just the other day was our first normal day since I have been sick. This may sound weird, but I shared it with her at our barn. It is where both of us feel most at home. We sit in my horse Jake’s stall all the time and talk about life. I explained to her my feelings about missing Barcelona and feeling lost in a town where I was always so comfortable before. Of course she was supportive, but wasn’t exactly sure what to say. She hasn’t seen the world in the same way I have, and is fully aware of that. However, I am more than appreciative of her friendship and know that I can always go to her when I’m feeling this way. I am forever grateful to have such a supportive best friend.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

IMG_0426

Kerry and I the same day I shared my separation letter. 

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Janine Jay. London, England

With only two weeks left in my new home, I’ve spent the entire morning wondering how I am going to fit in seeing all of my favorite spots before my departure. I don’t want to even start to think about how I need to pack up all of my belongings and leave, so I’m distracting myself by having every day packed with adventures both new and old to make sure that no stone is left unturned before I leave. On my last night, it only seems right to leave the way I started and return to the first pub I ever went to. But I have been taking walks every day to try to take pictures of everything that I can. These confusing and sometimes scary streets have become familiar, each turn containing a memory.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past 125 days in London and trying to compare myself at the beginning of this journey with who I am now at the end. Have I managed to take the best of both of my new homes and combine it into a single persona? As Slimbach remarks, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (2010, pg. 54) My time in this bustling city has allowed me to encounter people from all types of life, from my professors to the people you sit next to in the tube. The global learning that I have encountered has allowed me to learn about London and its vast history, and also about myself. When I observe cultures different than my own, I am not only learning about those cultures but I can also analyze my own with a keen eye to ask myself questions such as “why do we really have an instinct to make a batch of 24 cookies rather than 9?”. (I think it’s to do with hospitality)

This new perspective on myself and my country caused me to reflect on the elements of my culture which with I agree and disagree. I’ve begun to see healthcare, economic, and foreign policy issues in a new light. Just last week on a long 10-hour bus ride back to London I went through the UK border control at the English Channel where a mother and her daughter were turned away after traveling the same journey as me. Why am I allowed to go through when they are turned away after doing nothing wrong? Being a global citizen means that I am obligated to be more informed about what is going on in the world and what effect it will have on the future. Though I am just an individual, my small contribution will always make a big impact on the world whether directly or indirectly.

The context of my global travel has helped me to shape the person I am today. Without the physical separation of myself from my home, I would not have the mind space to reflect on the actions I take automatically. Slimbach touches on this connection when he says, “Humans are specially graced with reflective consciousness and the capacity to choose among the possibilities of our nature. As such, we have the unique opportunity to connect an inner journey of self-discovery with an outer journey of world discovery.” (2010, pg. 51) The clues from the world around me spark ideas about my own philosophy and the way in which I live my life. This in turn evolves into a reflection of how each of my actions affects others. Like moving gears on a clock I’m starting to see that every turn I take makes the whole machine tick.

 

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

Travel log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Meghan Thorogood Lancaster, MA

It has officially been a week since I have returned from Florence and adjusting to life back home has been much different than I expected. Things I used to do without hesitation feel slightly weird now. From driving a car to just waking up in my childhood bedroom. Life did not freeze while I was gone. Everyone continued to live their lives and change, just like me. I was not expecting everyone to put their lives on hold because I was gone, but I also wasn’t prepared for things to change.

 

The past week home has been chaotic. I have been thrown into the life I lived before I left. From family parties, to job interviews, and appointments, I have not had the time to sit down and digest my time abroad and my reincorporation back into my community. However, sharing my reincorporation letter helped me in this process. I decided to share this letter with my entire family on Saturday when we were all together. My family is very involved and everyone had millions of questions for me about abroad. Therefore, I thought sharing my letter with everyone would be best, and it was. After sharing my letter, my family could see how much this journey meant to me and how I have grown. The quote I decided to share with my family is by Anthony Bourdain. He says, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” I picked this quote to share because it highlights all aspects of travel. I have grown from the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences. Everyone thinks of studying abroad is all sunshine and rainbows, but there are some storms in between. Rather than hiding from these storms, I embraced them and took them as learning opportunities and I want my family to know that. This is a habit that I hope to continue now that I am home. I hope to find the good in the bad more often and take it as a lesson to learn from rather than a discouraging event. Another habit I hope to improve upon is how I spent my time. In Florence, I was always walking around looking for my next adventure. At home I feel myself falling back into that technology slump. Although the days may not be as grand, I plan on breaking this habit and continuing with my adventurous ways as I did in Florence. Changing one’s habits, and bettering oneself is one of the greatest gems discovered while abroad.
The “gems” that come from an education abroad experience are endless. However, for me, a big “gem” that I have discovered is the importance of independence. Living in a foreign country without my parents or the rest of my family has giving me this sense of independence I never imagined. I thought I experienced this when I went off to college, but I quickly realized that being independent with help just a short two hour car ride away and having help an ocean away are completely different types of independence. It is hard to explain, but I have gained more confidence and happiness from this independence that I never dreamed of. With that being said, being an independent person is great, but a true “gem” of being abroad is the appreciation I have gained for my family, I have also known I have a very supportive family. But to feel that support, the love and care of my family from thousands of miles away was something incredible. Without these two “gems”, I would not have experienced the same results from this education abroad.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Mitchell McGowan. Quincy, Massachusetts.

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.

 

Works Cited:

 

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC 4120