Travel Log 7: “Wise for the World” Part 1. By Andrew Dunbar. Queensland, Australia

The Rwandan Massacre was one of utter inhumanity and cruelty. To be honest I did not know much about this important event before watching Shake Hands with the Devil, but know that I am informed about it I am completely disgusted. Disgusted not only in by the people who committed this heinous crime, but also disgusted at the rest of the world for not acting or not showing any signs of interest at all. During this massacre, almost a million Rwandans were killed, with over a 500,000 of them being raped and the world didn’t even blink. This horrific event occurred due to the deranged psycho Hutu trying to eliminate the Tutsi people.  The cartoon I have perfectly describes how the world treated this massacre, with them being interested for a moment before turing their attention to something of much less importance.

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In the cartoon I have chosen, which was put in the 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a man and a woman are both walking out of a movie theater with the movie titled “Hotel Rwanda”. One thing I noticed under the movie title in this cartoon is that it is rated “PG-13”. This is disgusting but accurate because it exemplifies how the world downplayed the whole situation and did not take it seriously. This shows how the media can modify the news and make it seem less serious or more serious than what it really is depending on how they want the public to react.

The man and the woman are having a conversation about the movie where the man says “I can’t believe the world stood by and did nothing!” to which the woman replied “I can’t either…when do you think the movie “Hotel Sudan” will be released?”. She is referring to the events in Sudan, but it is ironic because she is completely shifting her focus from Rwanda within a matter of seconds after leaving the movie theater, right in the middle of a conversation about how more people should have cared about the Massacre. This shows just how ignorant people are and how blind they can be to world events, only caring about them as a topic of conversation and then forgetting about them all together. It is as if people are aways caught up in the new news, the next big horrible event. But in doing so they quickly forget about a previous event that needs serious attention.

People are constantly looking for something new to talk about, something new to watch a movie on. Most people don’t really care about these horrible events because it is not happening to them. They are in their own comfy corner of the world and don’t really care about what is happening to anyone else, but many just pretend to care for the sake of conversation or sounding smart. I hope to one day live in a world where we realize that if every country were to fight out against aggression and horrible events such as the Rwanda Massacre, then the majority of the world’s problems would be solved very quickly by working together.

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Travelogue 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation.” Brian Costello. Cold Spring, NY

Coming back to the United States was a big shock for me. The second I landed in Los Angeles I knew that I was no longer immersed in the New Zealand culture I became so used to. Everyone was in a hurry, everything was automated making everything seem impersonal, everyone in my program went their own separate ways with no goodbye, the LAX employees didn’t know what they were doing, and TSA was slow as usual. I can’t say that I necessarily missed this aspect of the States but I was quickly reminded what it was like. However, that was just my experience in the LAX airport, which is a terrible airport by the way. Once I landed in New York after all of my layovers and long flights I was so relieved to be home again. Driving back from JFK at night when no one was on the road was refreshing and exciting. I had a liminal stage for a few days, as well as jet lag, but it was extremely easy adjusting back to my home culture.

My parents were happy to receive my reincorporation letter mostly because they got me with it. They were touched by what I wrote and promised to help me in my reincorporation process by just treating me as the normally would. The quote I used in my reincorporation letter was by Jane Addams which reads “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” I chose this quote because I felt it really captured what I wanted in my reincorporation process. I wanted to bring something new that I learned in my host culture and bring it into my home culture and other people’s lives. By sharing my stories and journeys with people from my home country I am being a responsible citizen as well as helping my reincorporation process. I feel that my community helped and supported me throughout my entire time abroad. They kept me in touch with my goals and who I truly am, which in turn helped me make the most out of my study abroad experience.

Some “gems” I plan on bringing along with me are to disclose to people that there are certain ways to live your life and to take chances. My first gem is an important one because a lot of people believe that there is only one path for them in their life and that is certainly not the case. We are taught our entire life that we have to pick and choose a certain way we want to live and that through hard work and dedication you can achieve these goals, which is true, but what they fail to tell you is that the time you spent achieving your goals was a major portion of your life. Now it is up to that individual at that certain moment to look back and reflect on whether the ends justified the means. If it does then great, but if it doesn’t what now. I just want to make people aware of this reality because it does happen and being aboard has made me realize that there may be a lot more fields or areas I am not familiar in but may love doing. Experimenting and reflecting is a key part in finding what you love, which ties into my next “gem” of taking chances. Everyone has to take chances. They make you a stronger and more aware person when take them. They may not turn out the way you expect, but either way you learned something new.

One major stream that I will have to divert is the one of laziness. During the summer if I am not working I become extremely lazy and do not want to do activities that I would normally enjoy doing. These would include hiking, biking, exercising, and socializing with friends. I know that if I do not make the effort here I will fall back into my old habit of being lazy which was non-existent in New Zealand.

The quote I chose to end my final travelogue and to express how I feel about being home is from Mother Teresa “Love beings at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put into that action.” I feel that this is a perfect quote to sum up how I am feeling because I do feel loved back at home and by bringing this love to other places and sharing it with other people I make another home. A home where hopefully one day I can go back to where the suns rises over the rolling hills with healthy green grass, sets over the calm ocean, and where the people are friendly and use cool sayings such as “Sweet as.” I will miss New Zealand, but my real home is right here in little village of Cold Spring, New York.

Travelogue 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Separation.” Brian Costello. Dunedin, New Zealand

Leaving New Zealand is going to be very difficult for me. I have made many new friends here and saying goodbye to them and all the good times we have had will be a struggle. Reading Slimbach’s quote “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (p. 54) leaves me a greater sense of what I have truly learned while abroad. I have not only become more aware of the world around me but also more aware of who I am as a person. In the beginning of the trip I said that I could adapt easily to any environment I was placed in but now that I am looking back on it I didn’t really adapt at all. I had a chance to become anyone I wanted but I decided to stay true to who I am and what I stand for and in the end that was the best approach I could have taken. Staying true to myself and to other people helped me in becoming a better global citizen, which in turn helped eradicate any negative stereotypes foreigners had about Americans. Throughout this experience I realized what it takes to be a responsible global citizen. You must be kind to others and welcome them with open arms, you must be tolerate of other cultures even though they may differ from your own, you must be willing to take chances and step outside your comfort zone, and most of all you must keep in touch with everyone you met. If you can accomplish all of these feats, I believe that you deserve the title of responsible global citizen.

I knew that saying goodbye to old friends would be difficult but it’s not as if I will never see them again. Instead of goodbye I would say “until next time” because I do plan on seeing everyone I met again. To end the semester my entire complex consisting of 36 wonderful people had a farewell dinner to commemorate the one last time all of us would be together. It was held in my flat because it was the biggest and cleanest of the complex and everyone was in attendance. The dinner consisted of a New Zealand college student special which was a lot of chips(french fries) and pizza. Can’t say it was the most elegant and delicious meal but hey it didn’t really matter as long as all of us were together. During the dinner, various awards were being handed out for certain accomplishments in the complex which were all the way from “Best Facial Hair” all the way to “Most Embarrassing Moment.” The night was filled with some good banter and was a sweet as way to end the times we’ve had together.

I have a very weird and unusual feeling that I can’t really describe concerning my departure. I feel as if it isn’t really going to happen. It feels as if I am just going to be gone for a few weeks and then be right back in it. I can’t say that I feel sad yet because I am still here, but I know that I will feel this way eventually. I know that I will go into culture shock yet again when I head back to the States but it will not be as drastic as coming here. I know that the reincorporation process is going to be very rough but I know I’ll be able to get through it.

The quote I chose to describe how I am feeling is the one that was used at the end of the award ceremony by the Kiwi host Tom Pullan which was “There are big ships, and there are small ships, but there are no ships like friendship.” I will miss New Zealand and the people I have met here but I will remember them always and will do my best in reuniting with them once again. The picture I chose for this travelogue is a picture of everyone in the complex after the dinner doing a Whetero. It is a technique used by Maori men to show their dominance over someone, but in this picture it was used to see who really learned anything about New Zealand culture while they were there, plus it makes for a very funny picture

480 Complex showing off their Whetero

480 Complex showing off their Whetero

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” By Matthew Mattson. Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Reincorporation into my original place at home is not as easy as I thought it would be.  After the first couple days, I found myself getting bored quickly and started to feel isolated.  It is like I am on an island and everyone can visit, but no one can truly stay.  I do feel like I am in a separate place from other people around me that have not seen more than one perspective.  This feeling of loneliness seemed like a gap that couldn’t be filled, but the reincorporation letter definitely helped.  My letter was trying to show how my thought process has been widened and my perspective is changed.  My letter included a lot about this change I have had and how has been pretty hard to articulate how I feel about my experiences and now defining what my future goals will be.  I chose an illustration of a singular tree in a field.  It symbolized to me the sense of isolation I have been feeling and how it would take time for me to re adjust to being home.  The quote I chose was one that showed how important coming home still was to me, because the sense of isolation in the beginning of the letter almost made it seem like I didn’t want to come home.  “I am travelling half the year around the world, every year, so coming home is one of the most beautiful things,”- Andre Reiu.  Coming home to me is a beautiful thing.  The sense of continuity with the town I grew up in is boring, but refreshing.  My parents reacted to this letter in a very understanding way.  They understood how difficult it was to come home with a different mindset when everyone else remained mostly the same.  I think my growth will be easier to apply with college friends, because we were all together when we had to make the change to being in university without our family, so I think they are used to understanding change in individuals.  I think their reaction was exactly what I expected so nothing really changed for me, but I feel that I need more time to bridge the gap to feel more connected to family and friends.

The chapter in Slimbach’s book did help to understand my own feelings and how I can try to adapt to coming home.  “This phase of blissful indulgence tends to last about a week, if that long,” (Slimbach, 207).  The paragraph further talks about how being home is boring and I completely agree.  I feel like all the energy has been sucked out of me because there is so little to do.  The only thing that keeps me going is my desire to apply what I have learned abroad to my home community.  One of the most important lessons I learned was to listen to every story and I have been staying true to this.  I think I listen more than I ever have before which is a good improvement.  I believe that with help friends and family my adjustment won’t be as difficult as I may think.  I feel that I will also have a more open mind to ideas and critically think more about issues on a communal, national and global scale.  I believe that I may fall into a slump of laziness while home since there will be nothing to do, but I will be able to overcome this by trying to get out, do activities, get a job and hand out with friends.

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 Incorporation” by Colin Burke. Brookfield, CT

I would say the biggest challenge during reintegration has been the pace of life. This has been furthered by the fact that my internship started three days after returning home, which I will go into further detail later. Slimbach’s quote puts it perfectly, “Compared to life abroad, the pace can seem oppressive, the people wasteful, the food tasteless, the culture colorless. (Slimbach 205) I was able to escape from the norm for over five months, the society that I spent the entirety of my life. I constantly opened all my senses for five months in an effort to learn and build understanding of the unique culture of Barcelona. There were five different types of garbage/recycling on every block, delicious food everywhere, and passionate individuals, especially regarding football.

Another challenge has been trying to share my experience with others. In chapter 8, Slimbach notes this can be quite the challenge for a variety of reasons. I would love to take over the discussion and drone on about cultural differences and everything I have learned abroad, yet I have not done so except for with well-traveled individuals. In a group setting I tend just to share a few “cool” highlights from my trip like eating Kangaroo (the best meat I have ever had) or snowboarding in the Pyrenees. I hope to have more meaningful conversations in the future, and I would love to speak with potential study abroad students.

I shared my letter with my mom before leaving for Barcelona, and shared the Reincorporation letter I wrote on the plane home with my mom upon return. The quote I chose was, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” by Aldous Huxley. I shared this quote because it relates to stereotyping, something people, including members of my family, do far too often. The theory of stereotyping always mind boggled me. Yet, I learned while studying abroad that it is childish to attempt to put labels on an entire country, however certain characteristics can be shared by the majority of a country or region. Love for football being a very blatant characteristic of almost every country in Europe. My mom was not expecting another letter, but promised that we would talk deeper about my experience, particularly with members of my well-traveled extended family.

One aspect of Spanish culture, and virtually everywhere I traveled, is the emphasis and time spent eating. I used to judge waiting service almost solely based on speed, but now being back in the US, this is no longer a factor when deciding how much to tip a waiter. Spending between one and two hours eating can allow individuals to discuss personal problems, recent successes, the world at large, or any number of meaningful topics. In the US, everyone has their phone on the table and is waiting for food while talking. Conversely, from my abroad experience, everyone is talking while waiting for their food. Everyone is seemingly “too busy”, some by working 9-7 jobs or others by needing to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Quote that describes my current feelings:

What-Do-You-Want-to-Be-When-You-Grow-Up

Three days after returning home, I started my summer internship with the Hartford Insurance Group in Hartford, CT. I was grateful to have a three day orientation before actually beginning assignments. I had a long drive the first day when nerves built and a bit of a 21 year old mid-life crisis occurred. I started an internship in corporate America, fulfilling the only stereotype that foreigners collectively share about Americans: We live to work, rather than work to live. I never saw myself working a 9-5 growing up as both parents often resented their professions. After studying abroad and seeing how slow, and enjoyable, life can be, I was a bit rattled when starting my job. I try to be as honest as I can with everyone around me, so in the middle of my second week when discussing goals, I voiced how I want to create a meaningful and fulfilling career.  I am lucky to say I am graced with an assignment manager that has talked me through this conflict at great length already. She said, “Colin, I never want you to stop saying what do I want to be when I grow up.” I really appreciated this and upon reflection, I think it would be enormously beneficial to follow my manager’s words. I will never settle into a job unless it is something I am enjoying that is meaningful for me and others.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” Connor LaChapelle. Boston, MA.

There is a psychology concept widely accepted by social scientists called ‘linear thinking.’ The idea is that humans naturally think in a linear manner, meaning that if we take ten steps, we are only going to be tens paces away from where we started. This is also how the average person thinks, and it represents one of the greatest barriers to our transcendence as intellectual beings. Studying abroad has taught me how to think ‘exponentially,’ that is how to be global in how I interpret the world around me. Although this undoubtedly gives me an advantage as I prepare to begin the next chapter of my life, it also has created friction with many of the people who I have known or continue to meet. I feel this most intensely when I meet people here in the States who show no interest in traveling outside of America because they believe there is nothing else worth seeing, or its simply not worth the energy. Another example is depicted by the lack of emphasis in our youth language learning programs. The general census essentially infers: why learn another language when we already know the ‘best’ one? There is no greater detriment to any society than ethnocentric behavior. It is this arrogance that has posed the greatest challenge to my reincorporation.

Sharing my reincorporation letter with my family gave me the best opportunity that I’ve had to summarize my time abroad and, more importantly, what I’ve learned. I believe the greatest advantage this letter has given me was discussing how my family could help me by working to understand that I am not the same person I was when I left. My principles are the same, but I am now less convicted to them because the context in which I now know exists has forced me to question and revise them. With this being said, I told them one specific way they can assist my reincorporation is by asking me questions about. I feel as though this will catalyze me to introspect and will therefore help me find a better fit into society.  I further pointed out that maybe even asking simple question like ‘what was it like taking a train everywhere?’ or ‘what was it like not understanding anyone?’ may be beneficial in my long-term incorporation. Who knows, maybe it will change the way they think as well. I believe the key to becoming ‘world wise’ lies, not necessarily in the travels, but rather practicing how to be sentient like a traveler. With great effort, I believe one can think globally depending on how well they listen.

Slimbach wrote, “to change a deep-rooted habit, you must take steps to divert the stream—that is, to consciously form a new habit. By making a conscious change in behavior, you begin to dig a new channel in your psyche.” (Slimbach, 226) Habits are powerful indicators of our character, and I believe that way other’s perceive us relies heavily on our habits. I think the effects of studying abroad are going to reveal themselves in the new habits I have accrued. As I have listened to my peer through the years, I had come recognize that I live in a deeper state of introspection than most. Some call it maturity, other label it self-consciousness, and to be honest I have no idea. What I do know is that it will now work in my favor because I will be that much more aware of when I begin to fall back into my routine of old. I am going to carry forward my experiences by journaling about my memories and the gridlock between my old, current, and future identities. Nikki Giovanni once said: “A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” The quote reflects I am today, because it is just now that I realize my world changes every day. Studying abroad also taught that I am agile to keep up with.
quote-Nikki-Giovanni-a-lot-of-people-resist-transition-and-143364_1

Travel Log 15″There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” By Funmi Oluwasusi Middletown, New York

Reincorporation in the Rites of Passage theory involves incorporating oneself back into their home community after studying abroad. Based on our workshops reincorporation has different results for every student. For example some students may not recognize personal growth but will appreciate their overall experience. Others may feel more independent and travel savvy but their community does not recognize these qualities. Some students don’t separate successfully from their host country and become critical of their home community in an unhealthy way. The one I relate to the most is when students feel isolated on their return due to difficulties sharing their experience. It is extremely hard to describe a three-month adventure in a couple of sentences. When I sat down with one of my best friends and talked to her about all of the things I did, it felt like I was talking to a wall. She seemed pre-occupied or had no idea what I was talking about even after I explained some of my experiences. It was really hard to get my point across on how I saw this amazing sunset in Greece or how I had tea at this little shop outside of London. She would say how she wasn’t surprised I went abroad and that this experience was for “smart people”. She doesn’t go to college therefore she doesn’t have access to opportunities such as this. It made me feel bad because I felt like I was putting her down or downplaying her life at home and I could sense her jealousy. It was just an awkward and uncomfortable experience all together.

Slimbach states, “ Having struggled to overcome so many “dragons”, both within and without, you now look at yourself and your natal culture differently” (205). I feel like I don’t fit in my home community any more. I hear what my friends have been up to since I’ve left and I can’t really connect with them. I see some of the stuff they are worried about as small-minded. It kind of makes me sad because I was so excited to see them and not being able to relate to them or get into the conversation has really downplayed all of that excitement. As for my family, they have been hovering quite a lot lately. It wasn’t until this letter that I told them they had to give me some space and let me figure things out on my own. I was always a very independent person but it was to a specific point where I would need their help. I think now I’ve learned to really do a lot of things on my own and they are still used to me calling on them for help in the last minute. As a result they often do things for me instead of just waiting to see if I’ll do it on my own.

 I chose to share my reincorporation letter with my mom and dad, just as I had shared with them my separation letter. I read my letter to them one evening after dinner in the living room. In my letter I spoke about how I have changed and that it may seem hard to see at first. I discussed why I’ve been hiding out in my room so much and why I seem so down at times. I explained how I would make myself more visible in order to have a healthy reincorporation. I asked them to give me some space and allow me to do some things on my own so that they can see how I have changed. My mom seemed relived to get an explanation for my behavior and my dad was supportive of my needs. They both don’t see how I’ve changed, which is a little discouraging but I can get past this if they can uphold what I need them to do to help me reincorporate to my home community. Some of my closest friends have seen a positive difference in me and that has been extremely encouraging and has pushed me to continue making strides in reshaping myself. The quote I chose to share with my parents in my letter was “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make and make a brand new ending” by Carl Bard. I explained to my parents that I’m not trying to start over because there are some things that have happened in the past that have shaped me positively. I am trying to change the path that I am on and my attitude on how to navigate through life to be more optimistic. They seemed to understand and said that if I ever need help to do this they would always be there for me.

I plan to carry my experience forward by discerning vocation. I didn’t understand this plan at first but when I broke it down into simpler terms it meant that I should recognize or distinguish a particular path for myself. Before I left, I felt like I was at a crossroads. I had just changed my major, I didn’t have a summer internship, and with senior year getting closer I had no idea what I wanted to do once I finished. It scared me that I had no direction and no path to follow. This experience has taught me to take everything on and enjoy the small things in life just as much as the big important events that may occur. By focusing on this I have found peace with the fact that a lot of the important decisions I have to make in the future are not solidified. For a long time I’ve been to afraid to go for what I really want because I’m afraid of it being a mistake and wasting time. I think now I have the courage to voice what I really want for myself and just go for it even if it seems scary.

The main habit I want to change is my temper. I get easily frustrated with things or people and one can immediately see my irritation through my actions. This habit has occurred over time because I often get over looked or not taken seriously by others. I use it as a way to state my presence so I can voice my opinion, which as a result is not constructive. Keeping this habit will not allow me to grow and truly change into the person I believe I can be. By keeping this habit I’m wasting all of the experiences I’ve had and reverting back to my old ways.

Nelson Mandela, Spring2015

I’m at this point in my life where I have a lot of decision that need to be made. As I stated in this passage I have difficulty making decisions because I’m afraid of failure. I want to change this and make decisions that reflect what I really want. Doing this will allow me to overcome my fear of failure and test how hard I can work to gain what truly want in life

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 12: “Service” by Tory Parker. Rome, Italy.

My host university offered many different options for community service. I chose to volunteer my time at a battered women’s shelter in Rome helping to teach English. The battered women’s shelter’s goal here was similar to battered women’s shelters in the United States: to provide a safe and supportive environment for women who have lived through unfortunate circumstances. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to not only interact with people in my host community, but to make a small difference there as well. I was surprised to find that in addition to fulfilling my community service requirement for this class, volunteering my time here also benefited me in ways that I had not expected when I first chose this option.

One thing I have noticed about Italians in general is that they speak with a lot of emotion and also tend to talk with their hands. This observation was no different during my time volunteering. While teaching these women English, I could pick out who in the room was Italian and who was not. I was pretty confident that the ones speaking with their hands idle were probably not Italian. I find that myself and other study abroad students have slightly picked up the habit of talking with our hands, as well. The other night at dinner, my roommate almost knocked over four wine glasses because she was so invested in what she was saying. I think myself and other students may have picked up this habit because when interacting with locals almost everyday, even while just walking to class from our apartments, it’s hard not to unconsciously replicate little gestures that we constantly see and experience.

The benefit of volunteering, especially while living in another country, at least in my case, is interaction with a group of people that I most likely would not have had the chance to meet had I not volunteered. The women in the shelter were such resilient and brave individuals. Service work related to our class constructed definition of the Global Community because community service is the epitome of “respecting… and embracing … the betterment of society”. What else is community service than the active engagement in the betterment of society?

Volunteering at this battered women’s shelter impacted both my time abroad and me as an individual. It impacted my time abroad because I was able to see a different side of my host city other than the Coliseum, nice neighborhood, and gelato stands. While the premise of the shelter is not a happy one, I was glad I got to see a “real” side of Rome during my time here. Also, it made me more appreciative of my study abroad experience, meeting people that will not have the same amazing opportunities that I do. This experience also changed me as an individual because witnessing first-hand how strong and courageous these women were truly amazed and inspired me. I also think it impacted how I view my major and my career goals. I want to be a speech therapist, so this community service opportunity was perfect for me.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get a picture with any of the women, but I found the quote, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together” by Lilla Watson, an aboriginal Australian woman, related to my experience volunteering in Rome. I think this quote describes how volunteering your time just to say you volunteered is a waste of everyone’s time. Volunteering should be about mutual benefit. Not only should the person/people you are helping get something out of the experience, but the person engaging in the community service should be doing so because knowing that they helped someone else, even in a small way, should be just as rewarding as the help the person is receiving.