TL 15:″There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Mazel Genfi Accra, Ghana

Reincorporation in the Rites of Passage theory involves how one re-establishes themselves back into their home community after their whole study abroad experience.  Every student has a different experience re-incorporating back into their home community.  Students may notice their personal growth abroad and some students may not notice it at all. In my experience, I have not really fully adjusted with my re-incorporation back to home because I am not really home. I am in Ghana with my dad that I haven’t seen in a few years, so I am going through the rites of passage without really finishing it the first time in London. I’m not really home, so I can not really incorporate myself into my home community. My friends are constantly asking me when I’m coming back and I will be able to see them for another six weeks. Being with my dad has been amazing and he’s always asking what I did abroad. It’s not the same though, I have been waiting to tell all my friends the crazy experiences I’ve had. I can’t tell my dad when I got my nose pierced and the piercing fell out the next day in my sleep. The only good thing is that I have more stories to tell about my experiences in Ghana in addition to my experiences abroad. It does bring me joy when I show my family members the pictures of the places that I’ve been to. Their faces light because they have never seen monuments like  the Colosseum or Big Ben and for them to know someone who has been there makes them proud.

 

Talking to my friends about what has happened at home has been bittersweet. I’m sad that I have not been with my friends and family and missed all these events that they have told me about. In the end, I am glad that I’m not home. There’s certain situations that have taken place that I know that If I was there, I would have not approach the situation with the growth that I have obtained now. Slimbach states, “ Having struggled to overcome so many “dragons”, both within and without, you now look at yourself and your natal culture differently” (205) Even though I have yet to see them, They can sense the change in me by the way I talk and my reactions to certain things that they tell me. In Ghana, it’s weird that I fully adjusted to the area even though I am going through the Rites of Passage process again.

 

I decided to share my reincorporation letter with my dad. My dad always related my experience to his experience to when he first came to the states. In my letter, I talk about the experiences that I have had. The good and the bad. I told him why I haven’t really been excited to go out since I’ve been in Ghana because I feel like I have traveled so much that I am tired. I want to just sit, relax,and take in everything that I have been through.  He became understanding after a while and stopped bothering me for a while about going out.

 

Before I left, I was pretty optimistic  I finished last spring semester earning a spot on the Dean’s List and had an amazing semester being an Orientation Leader. Even though I started the semester with a good outlook,  I still found myself at a crossroads because junior year is the year where you figure out what you want to do in life. I currently still do not know what I want to do in life. I am still figuring out myself. However, since coming back from London, I have a better sense of myself and the path I want to be on. I know what traits I have to let go, tone down,fix, and or strengthen. One habit/trait  that I think that has changed since my experience and I would like to continue change is my confidence. Before leaving, I was never really confident in myself or my decisions. And, that is always because I always chose to be the “wallflower”. My overall experience has changed that about me. I am more outgoing now, and I try my best to stand out more. I make it my goal that every day speak up and talk to others more. I think it will help in the long run.

 

The quote I choose to end this journey off is with “Life is a roller coaster, scream or enjoy the ride”. London has been amazing, but it had its ups and downs. I have cried and laughed there. I’ve made friends and met people I consider family now. I have completed and lived a dream/goal that I’ve had for so long and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

TL 11: Half the Sky by Mazel Genfi, London, England

Half The Sky was an eye opener and explaining it to others started a conversation that I’ve never had a lot. The documentary showed a lot of things to the treatment of women. It showed stuff people are still struggling to accept: that women are oppressed.  The documentary showed that women potential is usually taken away before they even reached their prime.  Most of the oppression, comes from the centuries old thought that women are inferior to men. Young women going to school is a rarity and families rather them learn to domestic work or even sex work to bring remittances back home. Other communities even still practice female genital mutilation, a practice that has dire consequences to those who participate in it.It was stated in the documentary that females are being treated as second-class citizens. Females are seen with no value and forced to reap the consequences from it.

The information that was provided made me thing even broader about my privileges.  It is powerful to hear the facts of how women are oppressed around the world because it sheds light on how half of the population is treated. Women In some cases, they are risking their lives to give young girls and women a chance to have a future when the odds are against them. This documentary raises awareness of the injustices that occur in the world and as sad as it is, it is necessary and fundamental to see this and understand the concepts that are being discussed. This raises awareness to the fact that the greatest challenge in empowering women is breaking the stereotypes that have been established, women have perpetuated most of which.

The story that touched me the most and made me think critically was the story about the Indian Brothel.It talked about how the caste system still plays a big role in Indian society especially in the world of prostitution. Even though despair was a theme in it, there was a sense of hope involved. Susimita life was already determined because of her mother’s profession, but her mother was trying to change that so she can receive an education.With the proper support, She was able to change that and stop herself into getting into a lifestyle that wasn’t the best for her.  Even though there aren’t a lot of girls who are fortunate like Susimita, her situations creates a precedent for them as a result of this opportunity. Throughout the movie, we see the progress and growth in Sushmita’s education. And. as we see that progress, we see the hope and optimism beginning to glow on her face.

This documentary really made me think about what I have as a person. As much as we Americans fight for the equality of women in our nation, other women do not have that privilege at all. I am blessed to have an education and have the opportunity to break gender norms and barriers. Not all girls are in that situation. It hurts my heart to know that as much as we think that the world is developing, it really isn’t. Realizing this makes me want to do something about it or try to help the cause of education of women.

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Separation ” By JonCarlo DeFeudis. Seville, Spain.

In Chapter 2 of Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning Richard Slimbach profoundly states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” (p. 54) In my case the “world within” which Slimbach highlights, was a sense of belonging which went beyond being an American citizen. This being my last week before my departure for America, I found myself pondering my polarizing sojourn and story while abroad… These internal questions go hand in hand with what Slimbach calls “The Story We Need”, an idea which Slimbach holds that students time abroad should embody a loom, weaving together ideas and realizations beyond regular circumstances, eventually creating a unique fabric of moral, intellectual, and spiritual values.

As for my own loom, it has been steadfast in weaving away ever since I wrote my first Travelogue in May. Since I arrived in Spain I have never stopped wondering how my actions might influence my new world and how I might make leaps in my understanding of the world beyond my fingertips. What ultimately came out of my sojourn for such answers was a glimpse into that world within; insight which has been a precious to me. I have come to see that my purpose for making this journey has been not just to travel for wanderlust but to get acquainted with cultures before I could only cite facts about. My semester abroad brought me up close and personal with the ideas and people that had been a world away until now. I learned that what comes with spending time in a world, like an alien, is the wonderful ability to explore and learn new things with vigor; there are infinite locals, destinations, spontaneous occurrences, traditions, and conclusions to find out there. Now, because I have been abroad, as my rite of passage ends, I feel awoken to the idea of learning of strange customs in this beautiful light; no longer am I scared of strange customs, but rather intrigued and excited. And this idea I have come to learn not only applies to being abroad, but also back home too. There is so much we leave untouched in our day to day lives in America, there is much to seek and uncover on our own soil.

Slimbach pushes the student even further as he stresses, “If we view the world as signifying nothing and going nowhere, a place where we simply exert ourselves to secure personal advantage, study abroad will only serve to decorate our resume or satisfy our wanderlust. But if we define our purpose in the world as promoting what is good and just, those same sojourns will be oriented towards comprehending the world in order to remake it. Mere knowledge about the world is not sufficient as its own end; it is always situated in particular values and oriented towards ends beyond itself. This is why our overarching objective cannot merely be to become more ‘globally competent’ as important (and difficult) as that might be. The question is, Globally competent for what purpose?” (Slimbach, 42).

That question, “For what purpose” is not an easy question to answer. All I can say is that, personally, I found purpose in that my transformation from the beginning to the passage, until now has been more than I ever expected, I have found purpose that in each lesson I learn abroad brings me closer to having more connections and understandings to the world. The world is more than just myself and America.

As my departure draws near, I realize there is the process of separation once again, where I prepare for my rejoining my original culture. When I think about all the things I’ve done in my time I am proud to have made local friends, in Rosa and Julio. They are two incredible inspiring friends I’ve made. This past week I’ve made my goodbyes with Sevilla and my neighborhood in Los Remedios by wandering in the streets everyday. It’s a good way to remember this beautiful city, walking around on the sidewalks always offers glimpses into the simple life of the people of Sevilla. The city’s vibrant people and vibe is something I won’t ever forget. As Christmas is coming up I bought a few vintage American forest fire items for Julio, as he looks forward to becoming a Forest Firefighter in the future. As for Mrs. Rosa, I’ve gotten her traditional Christmas flowers. This ending is bittersweet as they come, but I’ve been prepared for this, I know I can’t stay forever and a part of me eagerly awaits returning to my loved ones back home. That does not mean I won’t be leaving loved ones behind in Sevilla… A comforting thought for myself is that I will return to this city eventually, I have made that promise to myself. Even more comforting is that all the life changing ideas and insights I have made abroad, I get to bring back with me.

 

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning.

Travelogue 15: “There`s no place like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Dejanay Richardson. Bronx, New York

When I landed at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York City, I knew my trip had come to an end and that I would have to reincorporate myself back into the regular routine. However, the fact of the matter was that I did not know what that would mean now. A few weeks before I would set flight, I thought about what it would mean to go back home. As I tried to incorporate myself into my home country`s lifestyle, I found a big reverse culture shock happening. During the last school sessions, one of my classes described what we may feel and experience a part of our reverse culture shock. During the study abroad time, I had been constantly readjusting and trying to assimilate to a different culture. However, reverse culture shock is a lot like readjusting and assimilating to my regular life back at home. My reverse culture shock in its first phase included the obvious, shock of being back in America and how my trip was officially over. I was happy to be back home, but I had felt like a part of me belonged somewhere else. This phase included my struggle to stop confusing Celsius for  Fahrenheit, Kilometers instead of Miles, and pulling out euro coins for change.

This was the exterior of my reincorporation phase, which in turn led me to question what the bigger value of reincorporation was really about. In my mind, it was about both the positives and negatives about returning home that was going to get me through this process. This was my chance to tell something to my friends and family all that I have experienced and learned. On the other hand, this had a big effect on me because it would guide me through the break and think about how to adapt better.  As Slimbach states in the Chapter 8 “The Journey Home” I experienced ” The feeling of simultaneously being “in two minds” often highlights an underappreciated truth: that “home” isn’t just a physical space we inhabit but a lifestyle we construct. It’s a cherished set of values, relationships, places, and rituals that we learn to assemble wherever we are. “No one goes home,” explains Craig Storti (1990). I wanted to keep certain traditions without breaking others, which includes coming together for big lunches and dinners and spending more quality time with my friends. My biggest learning lesson from this was how I can contribute the daily routine from traveling and while studying abroad back in the US. Keeping up with my Spanish would be one way to keep some of the traditions, cooking some of the tapas would be another way. Overall, it is my new found perspective on studying abroad that has convinced me that there are other ways to think about life and how our Rites of Passage can be a way to connect to our culture as well as others.

One of the things I find difficult in my Reincorporation phase is the boredom and sadness I have been battling. Since being home, the intensity of hearing new languages meeting people and traveling have temporarily come to a halt. Although I may not have another opportunity to study abroad, I know I will travel again some day -even though it may not be the same. I have tried to fight this new found boredom by watching more travel channels and shows. Some people might dispell this activity as a big negative because it only shows the “tourist” beauty of the country or islands. Yet some shows travel off the beaten path to find those stories and anecdotes that are told less to show that traveling can be an emotionally enriching activity as you get close to the people that you know.

When I came back to the U.S. my mother saw a slight difference in me. After I had read my letter about my reincorporation she was really proud that I could take the opportunity to travel. A lot of people in my family have never been outside of the United States, but she marveled for the fact I found a new sought independence in traveling. She saw that I could speak more Spanish, even though I oppose that statement, and that I am more relaxed about life. I know that I can bring all of my stories to school, and the ever complex question “So how was Barcelona?” will pop up. However I could tell many stories about how it was, but I want to tell everyone what it meant to me and how it actually made me more of a global citizen. I find myself more interested in global affairs as well as minority affairs overseas, for a long time these two topics have been important to me but my passion for them have become stronger. Hopefully, my college will have more opportunities for me to be involved with this, but I know I can be a responsible citizen by spreading this to my family and friends.

Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 3797-3799). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

Travel Log 15 “There’s no place like home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Christina Mercugliano. Cheshire, CT

A semester abroad has been something I thought about and envisioned for myself ever since high school. When I looked for colleges, I specifically inquired as to where it would even be possible for me to go abroad as a pre-med student. When I make a four-year class plan, I carefully arranged my schedule to allow a semester away from the sciences. When I struggled through the grueling course load of sophomore year, I reminded myself that that was a sacrifice I chose to make so that I would be able to study abroad. And suddenly, that semester abroad came. And now, its come and gone. I can hardly comprehend that my time in Italy is behind me.

Moving to another country by myself was not without its challenges, but as Slimbach writes, “Coming home can actually take as much getting used to as going abroad ever did, and maybe more” (Slimbach 204). I have very much found coming home to be the hardest part of this journey; reading the chapter on going home has given validation to all of the things I have struggled with since my return. When I left four months ago, I was gleefully excited, but also terrified of the unknown, apprehensive about the constant and inescapable challenges of life in a foreign country. I was optimistic about my time in Italy, but confident that when the time came for me to return home, I would be ready. Although there were certainty aspects of life at home that I missed, I did not long for it, and I definitely wasn’t anxious to return.

Slimbach had warned that home would not have changed as much as we had. I expected this. What I did not expect was how hard it would be to fit my changed self back into an unchanged place. I particularly struggled to get along with my parents, who didn’t understand the immensity of what the previous months had meant to me, had been for me. They had the opportunity to come visit for two weeks, and travel throughout Italy. They understood some aspects of Italian culture, and saw some pieces of my life there. But, for them, Italy was a vacation. And given that I only took classes Monday through Wednesday, they liked to joke that it was only a vacation for me too, albeit a four month one. When we learned about rites of passage theory, we talked about the communities acceptance of your growth as an integral part of reincorporation. This was evidently going to be a struggle for me.

When I sat down with my dad to share the reincorporation letter, he shared his observation that I had come back ‘fiercer.’ My hair was shorter, my lipstick was darker, and I was aggressively independent than ever before. I explained that when I was alone in an airport in a foreign country that spoke a language I did not understand, there was no one to call. I didn’t survive four months of the amazingly challenging lifestyle I lead by being flim-flammy, or childish. I had to be strong, I had to be independent, I had to be capable. And this made sense to him; I think it was a real moment of understanding for both of us.

More than anything, what I have felt since coming home, as Slimbach states that many do, is boredom. I drive through my small town and think how simple everything is, how little really happens here. Just a few weeks ago I could be out and about and accidently stumble upon something as magnificent, and historically significant, and thought provoking as the Colosseum. I could marvel at what was possible to build by hand at the time of Christ, and wonder what would happen if the same resources were poured behind the construction of things and ideas given the technology we have today. And that is what I miss the most. I crave the mental stimulation of the constantly challenging, constantly amazing world I lived in just weeks ago. Slimbach suggests throwing oneself into new hobbies, interests, or educational endeavors to fill the void. I hope to channel my newfound curiosity to not only further my academic success, but also to learn about new and exciting things of my own choosing.

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Daniela Scotto. Morristown, New Jersey

Many would argue that it is difficult leaving home, venturing off into the uncomfortable and frightening unknown. After my time abroad, I would have to disagree; returning home to the known, habitual, and normal lifestyle is much more difficult and fearsome. After separating from my home in Morristown, New Jersey, I was sure that by the time December came I would be jumping with joy as the date for my return quickly approached me. Much to my surprise, the reality was considerably more complicated, as the distress of separating from my new home in Rome, Italy, now unexpectedly snuck up on me. Reincorporation was now in my vision, as I looked forward to my next and final step in my life changing transition.

The process of reincorporation was comprised of such vast emotions, that I still feel as though I am dealing with the departure and return from overseas. Richard Slimbach explains, “Coming home can actually take as much getting used to as going abroad ever did, and maybe more. Whereas we anticipate having to adapt ourselves to differences abroad, we don’t expect the same as we set foot back on native soil” (2010. p, 204). For me, this was the most eccentric part of my rites of passage; returning home to a town that seems as though it has remained untouched, paused and only just now was the play button triggered. I spent much time asking myself the question, isn’t this a good thing? The fact that I haven’t missed much and hardly anything has changed means that I can simply jump right back to how things were, right? The answer to my question was what was especially nerve-racking, being that the conclusion was up to my discretion; I could return to my old town and my old life as if I never left, or, I could recognize the experiences and changes I have obtained and find a new place in my old home, one in which is appropriate for my new identity. I proudly selected the latter option, hoping that my community would celebrate my determination, rather than excluding me. In addition to my rather contemplative struggle with my new identity in my old environment, I also encountered innumerable conventional obstacles. These include comparing local cuisine to the distinguished foreign gourmet, becoming saddened by the absence of historical beauties in my surroundings, acting critical towards the fast-pace lifestyle in “corporate America”, and feeling desolate as my calendar increasingly opened up with unwanted “free-time”. Despite these challenges that I have crossed while reintegrating with my home community, I understand that this is all normal. I am indeed a liminal being yet again, finding my way through this confusing, as well as, worthwhile threshold.

While preparing my reincorporation letter, I only found it right to follow up with the individual with whom I had given a separation letter to four months prior—my boyfriend Danny. Although it would seem appropriate to give the letter to Danny once I returned home, I wanted to wait a couple days, allowing him to have his own time to interpret the experience in which I have just returned from. When at my house on my fifth day home, I decided that it was the right time to share with Danny the independence I’ve gained, the sights I’ve seen, the friends I’ve made, the knowledge I’ve acquired, the obstacles I’ve overcome, and most importantly, how this all forever changed me. Surely, I was at first worried to share these deep personal and reflective thoughts with Danny, nervous that he would perceive the changed me as a negative outcome from my time abroad. In order to help convey the opportunities a healthy reincorporation will allow me during this experience, I shared the renowned quote by Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. This quote truly highlights the positivity involved in change. Due to the fact that my new role as a responsible citizen of the global community was such an impactful component of my time abroad, I can now acknowledge the fact that the world cannot change without the change in mankind. It was clear that after I shared the letter, I had nothing to worry about. Danny was overjoyed to see that the four months we spent long-distance was for a greater cause than simply taking photographs and partying. Danny was proud of my decisions and actions while abroad, aware of the mindful traveling I so carefully practiced. I am so appreciative and thankful for the endless support that Danny has given me throughout this transition. It was with Danny’s acceptance of the changed person I have become, that I truly felt as though my life transition abroad was both successful and complete.

At the present moment, I feel fulfilled and humbled by the learning experiences I have accumulated, both in and out of the classroom, while living in Rome, Italy. However, now is not a time to get comfortable while reminiscing on stories and photographs, but a time to take action, “Our challenge, as integrative returnees, is to think and act in ways that enrich and enlighten both others and ourselves. Not only must we be able to alternate between cultural frames of reference; we must also learn to appropriately apply new values to novel situations” (2010. p, 220). One way in which I intend to carry forward the ”gems” I have collected on my Education Abroad experience is through the concept of “discover the joy of less”. Often times, it is easy to take the little things for granted. While living in Italy, I had to be conscious of the time I spent in the shower, as hot water quickly ran out. I had to go to sleep in heavy clothing, as heating was only allowed at certain times of the day. I had to wait several days for my laundry to dry, sometimes using a hair dryer to speed the process, as clothing dryers are not a commodity. I had to spend the time to hand-wash all dishes, as dishwashers are not a typical household product. Evidently, it is clear that daily life-style choices are made with much more vigilance overseas. Americans often feel far too powerful; neglecting to realize the harm that ones decision can have on others and the earth. Slimbach states, “It turns out that one of the best things the well off can do to practice meaningful solidarity with the working poor is to live simply and share resources—to use no more than our ‘fair share’ of the earth’s nonrenewable resources” (2010. p, 225). This carelessness stops here for me, as I hope to continue the practices I was forced to follow while abroad, now maintained by choice. Furthermore, another “gem” I wish to carry forward is through the notion to “help internationalize your campus”. College students are such valuable demographics in our global community, with young and ambitious minds awaiting his or her entry into the professional working community. With this, I hope to inspire students at Quinnipiac University, sharing the news of the global community in which demands and desires their attention and collaboration. Through these two simple ways I can carry the “gems” I have collected forward, I am confident that I will never lose what I have gained during my Education Abroad experience.

While it may seem as though I am prepared to take the necessary steps in order to carry my experience forward, it is true when they say that it is much easier said than done. Regardless of the obvious change in habit and character imperative to the effective continuity of my new identity, I am adamant about never giving up. Being that these travelogues were so helpful in reminding me of the greater meaning of my experience abroad, perhaps I could continue to set time aside to proceed with this exercise. By allowing occasions for purposeful reflective thought, I am positive that I can manage resisting the reemergence of habits, now labeled as negative influences on my global community.

Four months later, my life transition has reached its last step. As Andre Gide once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”. This is the message in which I ultimately hope to spread to anyone who wishes to listen; a world of opportunity anticipates your arrival, once you let go of the comfort that penetrates behind you. I spent three months prior to my departure anxious, worried, and doubtful. I had cold feet, convinced that I was making the wrong decision and far too close to rejecting a life-changing experience. Luckily, with the incalculable support from friends and family, I gained the courage to turn my head and never look back. Despite the immense difficulty I had separating from all that was known, I am forever thankful that I eventually was able to discover wondrous new oceans that I now call my home.

 

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2010).

Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation.” By JonCarlo DeFeudis. Holliston, Massachusetts.

My return back to the states was a grueling 18 hour trek consisting of a two large suitcases, a handful of crumpled plane tickets, a red-eye bus ride, and 3 airports, and 2 flights. I guess that’s why they say you have to go through fire and hell before the skies clear. I wanted to be done and get home more than ever that day, (December 21st, a day I won’t soon forget). Although that evening before I left, all my bags packed and my heart set on a different continent, I drew myself back to the place I had come to call home one last time. It was a surreal sendoff; Christmas music serenaded our last dinner together at the residencia and Rosa was as bittersweet as we all were too. Many of closest friends had already departed and the rest were due to leave the next day. I however, was left in no man’s land leaving at 12AM for a bus to Madrid to catch a flight. It was quite fitting to leave that way, by myself … betwixt and between as I arrived. And before I left I hit the bar one last time and along with friends we picked a few lines from my journal and reminisced of our semester. At that time, I truly felt all the connections I had come so far to make were painfully being severed. Although deep down I knew I wouldn’t ever forget those friends and experiences I had been through. The exhausting journey home abruptly brought the roller coaster to a halt. I stepped forward of the plane in Boston at 4:45pm on Wednesday, I was finally back. My Rite of Passage had just one more step; Reincorporation.

There were many open arms and welcomes waiting for me. As Slimbach warns this can be deceiving because as you attempt to explain all the crazy changes you’ve undergone, a funny thing happens. You realize it’s nearly impossible to put all the experiences of your journey with words. Slimbach speaks volumes on the process of returning back to reality in this passage,

“Returning home is supposed to signal a welcomed end to the force of life ‘in the field’. Home is where familiarity dominates, whether it’s the people, the language, the foods, or the routines of everyday life. It’s where we don’t have to think before we act, where we don’t have to struggle to ‘adjust’. That’s the theory, anyway. And the theory plays lout quite well for many (maybe most) sojourners” (Slimbach, 203).

Nobody can quite connect to you like your communitas and they are away back in their own communities too. I felt this bizarre feeling plague me; I had so much to tell my family and friends, but found it mind-numbing to explain what I had gone through in a profound way. As the days have passed I am only now able to form so well ordered thoughts about what happened.

A part of the reincorporation rite alludes to being acknowledged by peers on one’s return home. That is easy enough, everybody wants to know how it went and discussions with your reacquainted friends and family work to show off what you’ve done and accomplished. Furthermore, giving my Reincorporation Letter to my Mom was a good start to me getting used to back to being home. Although there are so many things to consider again. Jobs, money, friends you haven’t seen in awhile, TV shows you missed, next school semester… But what’s more paramount to the process of Reincorporation I realized was taking that big step to rejoin with your previous American identity. You know… the one you basically abandoned upon entering the foreign culture months ago. Yeah, that one.  Slimbach again mentions that this step of rejoining your home culture can sometimes be more difficult than leaving,

“Coming home can actually take as much getting used to as going abroad ever did, and maybe more. Whereas we anticipate having to adapt ourselves to differences abroad, we don’t expect the same as we set foot back on native soil” (Slimbach, 204).

There are so many things that are different in the culture you learned about and now that you’re back you are questioning the differences, maybe even finding day to day life boring. Well something that stood out to me upon reading the rites of reincorporation chapter was the urge to not ‘close the chapter’ but instead use it as a platform for transformative possibilities. Slimbach relates this to Joseph Campbell’s protagonist in his 1968 novel, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, “[To] Come back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man” (Slimbach 203). My personal process of merging back with my American identity went relatively unperturbed, somehow. I still have an urge to go sit at the café and watch the people pass by for a couple hours, but that is replaced by the rediscovered ability to cook my own breakfast and watch my long-missed morning basketball highlights once again. Replacing my abroad habits with my old habits is doing a fair job of helping me forget about missing Sevilla. Nevertheless, I am not just forgoing all my cherished memories. I am beginning to put them to good work. Getting back to work since I returned, at CVS I’ve adapted my style slow down what I’m doing instead of working at a lightning pace; it’s something I observed in Spain. Now I’m not sure how much my boss likes this, but at least I feel less stress on myself!

I guess all said and done I’m aiming (note that I am still in the process of reincorporation, it’s only been 8 days since my return), for that elusive ‘integrative returnee’ style Slimbach refers to as a form of a reincorporating sojourner. It’s a style Slimbach describes as,

“[Having the] greatest potential for personal change […] [and] When asked the inevitable question, ‘How was your trip?’ their reply moves the conversation beyond a mere travelogue of what they saw and heard and felt. They also speak of new world understandings and self-discoveries- and how both are being synthesized into a revised identity and lifestyle” (Slimbach, 211).

So far, I can see all the gears turning inside my self as the two, new and old identities join together, but still, putting all that into words is something mighty tough. Either way I’m constantly questioning myself and how I could be approaching things as I learn to live at ‘home’ again. In my final analysis, I can say my final step is something I could pondering for long after my return. At the least for now I can say my journey as a sojourner in the culture of Spain sparked something in me that has caused me to have a whole new approach to life. I can’t quite explain this but I know I understand how life is lived over there and somehow, I am trying to apply that to living back in the states. Perhaps I have more journeys ahead of me before I come to see everything in completion… but for now I am content with being back home amongst my friends and family, enjoying the familiarity and old habits I love so much. All along underneath I can still feel my subconscious thinking in a Spanish logarithm it created months ago.

 

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2010).

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Katheryn DeMarey. Hampden, MA

The word ‘home’ once seemed like a safe haven, the spot where we grew up and our parents now reside…but the closer my return flight came, the more daunting the word ‘home’ seemed. Home is a funny term because we all created new ‘homes’ in all of our foreign study abroad countries. Do people have more than one home? Is home where you were born, where you grew up or where you feel the most comfortable? I don’t think ‘home’ is very applicable to where I am in life. The term home for me is technically Hampden, Massachusetts… but when I look further… my heart tells me that home is Firenze, Italy.

Taking a full step back, the saying ‘home is where your heart is’ is scarily accurate. When I was younger, home was with my parents. When I had begun college, home was at Quinnipiac. When I began studying abroad, home was in Firenze. I find that each part of these different ‘homes’ offer me loads of new opportunity. At Quinnipiac subconsciously I would find myself referring to my dorm room as ‘home’ when we all can agree that dorm rooms don’t offer the same things our first homes do. Studying abroad was different…maybe because Florence DID offer me the same things that my first home provided me with. I was able to grow and explore, I had two great friends living in the same house as me, and I was able to still communicate with family to stay a little bit up to date. Right now, my heart is in Firenze but in a few years my heart will be with a new apartment in a different city or maybe even back to the country side. The feeling of happiness is ‘home’… so for right now, Florence is where I belong.

The concept of reincorporation seemed a little odd to me when I was first departed for my trip. I figured that going abroad and coming home would both have smooth transitions. I thought I would be able to appreciate the opportunities I was given but then quickly continue to move forward in my life, but I now understand why this last phase can be challenging. I realized that I found flaws in American society, flaws in my family and friends because it seemed as though they were both very narrow minded. I found myself less contempt with the life I was returning to when I thought I would be much more appreciative. For these reasons, reincorporation is a much more crucial part of returning to life here in the states than I once thought it would be.

After writing and presenting my reincorporation letter to my dad, I found that it was a perfect way to get myself back on track. The reincorporation letter brought my mindset back to America and helped me realize that there are a lot of things to appreciate here in the states. The quote I chose to include in my letter was “It’s better to look back on life and say: ‘I can’t believe I did that’ than to look back and say ‘I wish I did that’”. I decided to include this specific quote because it’s a simple life motto that I tend to make decisions by. When I decided to study abroad I wanted a change of pace, an eye opener and experience I would never forget. After talking to a few dozen people who regretted not studying abroad in college, I knew I had to make the jump. Studying abroad was a great adventure, one that I know I’ll be able to look back on and say “I can’t believe I did that”.

Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation.” by Micaela Buttner. Dedham, Massachusetts.

As my final days in Australia approached, I was still in complete denial that I was leaving. I felt like this was my new home for forever and that I was solely going back to America for the holidays then I would be back. As I stood on my balcony with ten of my friends at 4 a.m. in the morning looking at the ocean for our last hour, it hit me. I had to leave everything that had become so familiar. I had to leave my new best friends. I had to leave such a beautiful country without knowing when I would be able to come back. My heart in that moment at 4 a.m. shattered and tears strolled down my face.

Once I accepted the fact I had to leave, the nerves started to creep in. As excited as I was to see my friends and family, I knew I had changed and didn’t know how much. Also from talking to people back home, it seemed like a lot of things had changed there as well.

Reincorporating back into life at home was starting to sound scary. I did not know whether I would pick up right where I left off with everyone or if I would feel isolated and left out. I have been home a week now and the reincorporation phase is still something I am trying to successfully do. Leaving Australia was harder for me than I thought it would be, so my first week home has been a bit rough. Everyone keeps asking me how excited I am to be home and of course they ask the most difficult question, “what was your favorite part about abroad?” For anyone who has gone abroad, you know that question is almost impossible to answer, and for how excited I am to be back, not as much as they probably hoped I would be. Talking about it when others want to can be quite emotional because it makes me realize it was just a phase of my life and not actually my new home.

In my letter that I shared with my parents, I talked a lot about what abroad has taught me. How I am now more independent, confident and a go-getter. This way when I behave differently, they will know why. For example, I left my house the other day to go grab myself a salad and I look down at my phone to three missed calls from my mom asking where I am and why I didn’t tell her where I was going. The reincorporation phase will definitely be a process for not only me, but my parents as well. I also talked about how I feel about being home, and I was very honest. I have my days where I am quiet and upset, solely because the past four months for me are over and it can be hard to accept. But then other times it is the greatest feeling in the world to be here. My parents responded in such an understanding way and have made it their goal to make sure I continue to travel as much as possible.

When discussing returning home, Slimbach says, “Efforts to reconcile the mundane culture of home with mountaintop experiences in distant lands can prove physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be painfully frustrating.” (207) I have found this to be very accurate in my return home. Life already seems so boring here and sometimes I feel as if I will never have the joy and excitement I did abroad. To avoid this, I plan to keep myself as busy as possible and doing activities I have never done here before, even if they are such simple things. I believe I just need to avoid the boring routine I had before abroad and start looking into everything my home has to offer me.

Going abroad has caused me to lose my lazy habits. Living on your own forces you to clean, do the dishes, cook and pick up after yourself. I now do all of these things and I can tell my mom is quite pleased by it. These new habits I picked up were definitely positive ones to bring home.

“I have two homes, like someone who leaves their hometown and/or parents and then establishes a life elsewhere. They might say that they’re going home when they return to see old friends or parents, but then they go home as well when they go to where they live now. Sarajevo is home, Chicago is home.” – Aleksandar Homer

I chose this quote because it describes exactly how I feel and I think explains why I am having a harder time reincorporating than I expected. I now have two different homes and am so happy when I am in both. The idea of not being back in Australia for years is the reason I am as upset as I am. I never want my friends and family to think I am not happy here, because I am more than they know. Reincorporating takes time and I am sure in a few weeks I will be adjusted.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2010).

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Casey Keohan. Duxbury, MA

I have never been so disappointed to leave somewhere before. Australia has truly become a second home to me, and watching my apartment disappear out of the window of the bus was one of the most difficult goodbyes I have ever experienced. I have now been “home” for five days, and am still a little disoriented by all the changes: $1 bills, driving on the right, and the most difficult one of all—winter temperatures. The separation from my new home is certainly more extreme than the separation I experienced when I first embarked on this journey, partially because of the seasons and partially because I know I will probably never find myself back in Gold Coast with all the same people ever again. So while it may be a “see you later” to the place and the people, the experiences I have had these past four months will never be replicated.

Writing my reincorporation letter was easier than I thought, as I had discussed what this transition was going to be like with a few of my friends from Australia. However, conveying the messages I needed to was not so simple. I am planning to share this letter with my roommates, but want to wait until I can share it in person. I have shared the contents with my family as well, who understand that this experience has provided me with more life lessons than any classroom. I shared in my letter that I have become what is referred to as a “marginal”. Slimbach describes these people as questioners, often asking “why” to things generally accepted. I shared the following quote in my letter in an effort to convey what differences they may be noticing as I transition home: “Despite the perils and conflicts, being suspended between two cultures confers the rare ability to reframe our own sense of “home” by understanding the ways others imagine it. The long, slow, and hard work of acquiring cross-cultural understanding ultimately finds its payoff in our ability to think and live from a hybrid consciousness, and then to use this special aptitude to make a positive difference in the world” (Slimbach 227). My family did their best to understand my message, but there is so much about this experience that I have been unable to put into words. Something just feels different—like the place I have called home for twenty years is no longer my one and only home. So far, this personal growth has not been recognized by anyone in my home community. I understand that this recognition is important to a successful right of passage, so as time passes I will seek to express this change more openly to my friends and family. I hope that they will still be supportive of this change, and that I will be able to find a new place for the new me in my old community.

It has been hard to not become an “alienated returnee” as I sit in the cold missing my life in Australia. But I know these four months have changed my outlook on many things, and I did not embark on the experience to spend another four months moping about being home again. So I am vowing to carry the new things I have learned—the “gems”, as Slimbach calls them—forward so that those around me can also benefit from this past semester. Gold Coast is a very health conscious and environmentally conscious place, so in order to bring this “gem” back with me, I vow to reduce junk food consumption, and to encourage my family and friends to do the same. Junk food is not only detrimental to our health, but to our environment (think of all those plastic wrappers!). I also vow to “discover the joy of less”. With Christmas approaching, I have never been less excited for Christmas morning. I will be happy to spend time with my family, but no longer feel the need to add to my collection of useless and unnecessary gadgets. For the first time in my life, I really truly feel like I have everything I need (except maybe plane tickets back to Australia, but I should give this place more of a chance I guess). So I vow to keep this momentum going, and use my time and resources to better the world around me, instead of my closet. I will turn the heat down a few degrees, and live without air-conditioning whenever possible. I will minimize my time in the car and carpool whenever possible. I have seen first hand this past semester that this world is a beautiful place, and I want the next generations to be able to see this. Some of my current habits have not taken this into account, but I will work on this for the sake of my global community. I hope these four months will still influence my actions for the rest of my life. As Miriam Beard once said: “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”