Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between… so this is Liminality” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England

The word I keep using to describe my experience in London so far is “surreal”. The dorm/house/apartment building (I’m not quite sure what to call it) that I’m living in is in Notting Hill, a very “posh” part of London, where my neighbor two doors down is designer Stella McCartney, around the corner is Jude Law’s house, and just up the road is Kensington Palace, the home of Prince William, Princess Kate, their children George and Charlotte, and Prince Harry. So far, we’ve been on a few walking tours of the city, and I’ve gotten to see so many historical places and famous monuments and attractions like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and so many more. As I walk down the streets and see how extremely well the old as been preserved and integrated with the new, I can only look on in awe. There have been many moments where I’ve just had to pinch myself. “Is this really happening?” I think to myself. Although I know deep down that everything I am experiencing is 100% real, I am still going through my days with a slightly-numb feeling that comes with the shock of temporarily moving to one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Saying goodbye to my parents at the airport was difficult, but as soon as I was on my own I felt fine. I have been keeping in touch with them through texts, and so far one FaceTime call per parent, but I don’t feel as sad and dependent on them as I did in those initial moments at JFK. Because I have a UK SIM card and Internet acc

ess, I think my separation has been (relatively) painless since I know that I don’t have to constantly be in touch with my parents and talk to them as much as I usually do, but the option is there if I really need them. I have also

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at JFK before departing for London

remained incredibly distracted over the past week with all of the orientation events that have been going on with my program, IFSA-Butler, and with City University.

 

 

In addition to that, I definitely think my transition has been easier because I have been to London before, and culturally it is similar in a lot of ways to the United States, especially my hometown of New York City. I am very used to the hustle and bustle of a large city; being surrounded by many people from many different nationalities, taking public transportation, the large buildings and bright lights, and all the other things that come with city life. While some of the other students in my program are struggling with the London Underground and figuring out how to commute to our school, I feel like I’m back in high school again when I was commuting to and from school every single day. However, I do find myself comparing New York City and London a lot, and I think that’s not always the best thing. In Becoming World Wise, Slimbach quotes “intercultural expert” Janet Bennett (1998). She says, “At one and the same time, we value our old belief system as well as adaptation to the new; we seek a way to survive within our former worldview, and yet recognize the necessity for a new perspective … It is not merely ‘not knowing what to do,’ but it is more a case of not being able to do what one has come to value doing” (p.218). This quote really resonated with me because I think sometimes I am dwelling too much on my old belief system and trying to see London as New York when in reality they are two very different cities and I need to start seeing them that way instead of complaining that the Underground doesn’t run all night like the NYC subway system and that stores close too early. New York may be known as “The City That Never Sleeps” but London is definitely a city that sleeps. So my goal is to try to stop myself from making these comparisons and just enjoying London for what it is and learn how to adapt and not only live, but thrive in my new home with this new perspective.

In our workshop, we defined communitas as the group of people that are your “fellow liminoids”, going through a similar separation process and in a communitas all of the members are there to help get each other through challenges and make their rites of passage be as successful as possible. Slimbach says that communitas is “double-edged” because “Although it may provide vital social support, it can easily lead to stagnation in terms of cultural adjustment and learning”. I think I have found a group of girls in my program that make up my

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my communitas of girls from the IFSA program

communitas, and while I have spent a lot of time with them I haven’t let them hold me back in any way. I think we have found a good balance in the fact that we are all comfortable doing things on our own such as going to the university for meetings or going shopping or just walking around our neighborhood, but at the same time we have also done things together that help us get to know our surroundings better like going out to pubs and clubs. I have always prided myself on the fact that I am very comfortable traveling alone and successfully navigating in unfamiliar places, and that combined with my comfort in big cities has made the transition smooth and my reliance on my communitas not as great. I think I have found myself in a place where I am very happy and comfortable in my new city that I’m worried I will suddenly be overcome with homesickness and have somewhat of a setback. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

 

Slimbach also talks about finding ways to cultivate a network of “close-knit and supportive [international] friends”. I think I am in a unique situation because I am very active on social media and over the years I have made friends with people who live in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe such as France. When they found out about my plans to study abroad, they all offered to make plans to see me, or offered to show me around their home countries if I travel there. In fact, I am making plans for this weekend to see my friend that attends Middlesex University in London, although she is originally from Poland. I am hoping that connections like these will be a way for me to build this network that Slimbach refers to and that they will help me feel more integrated into the London culture.

The picture below was taken while I was on a walk with my friend who also goes to Quinnipiac and is doing the same program as me. It was one of the most memorable moments from my trip so far. We started out in Oxford Circus and walked our way down through Piccadilly Circus, past Buckingham Palace, through narrow streets and a residential area, down to the River Thames and over a bridge that had one of the most amazing views of Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, etc. I had ever seen. Plus, we got to the bridge around sunset, which added to the view’s beauty. This was where my astonishment came in about the integration of the old and new; blocks of old Victorian houses have remained in beautiful condition while just down the road brand new flats are being built, and nothing feels out of place. As I walked down the streets, I looked at all of these old homes, shops, cafes, etc., snuggled up against one another and I couldn’t help but feel like I was being pulled into them, as though they were welcoming me in a way. I have always felt a connection to this city since my first visit four years ago, and now it feels stronger than ever since I will be living here until April.

I think this picture best describes my journey so far because it showcases the beauty of London that has really captured my heart. It is also somewhat of a symbol of my journey because although I have been here before and had the chance to explore a bit in the past week, there is so much of this city that I haven’t seen yet and as I look down the river, I see all of the possibilities in front of me and I become even more excited for the weeks to come. Although I know that I will have to make more adjustments in order to fully become a member of the culture here and that I will most likely face more challenges in the next few weeks, I feel happy and optimistic because I know I will be able to overcome and make the most out of my somewhat short time here.15977370_10206810594657087_8748760816688353434_n

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Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” by: Stephen Sharo Dunedin, New Zealand

Thus far my experience with communitas has been excellent. I have truly indulged in the New Zealand culture. My program provided multiple opportunities to experience traditional Maori society. We spent almost two full days at a traditional Maori marae. During our time we stayed in a long house, learned traditional songs, and took part in many other cultural activities. Personally my openness to other cultures and my genuine interest in traditions and customs made the communitas very worthwhile. However interacting with the communitas was not a simple walk through the park. In all of my excitement I tended to forget some of the smaller customs of the culture. For example food was not permitted in the longhouse and I was so eager to go inside that I forgot to take a granola bar out of my bag. Other students on the trip seemed to share my enthusiasm, we all seemed to want to learn more about the culture and respected the customs of the Maori people.

The challenged we faced as a group were numerous. During our Fiji excursion about half of our group became very ill. About fifty students were throwing up all day and the sicknesss spread for the next couple of days. In addition to the sickness there was also incidents with extreme cases of bed bugs. Students were covered head to toe massive bug bites. Although the challenges seemed disastrous our group looked at the bright side and laughed it off. We were all happy to survive the first week and finally make it our schools. The Kiwis who were with us happily adapted to our situation. They changed plans to accommodate for the illness and helped us in every way possible and demonstrated what the Kiwi culture is like.

As Slimbach states, “While it’s true that the initial decision to uproot is ours, soon afterward, much of our life abroad happens under our feet and without our permission. Cultural quakes happen,” (Slimbach, Kindle Location 2910). This was precisely what happened during our excursion in Fiji. There was no internet or service during our time in Fiji and they operated on what was referred to as Fiji time, which was very loose and laid back. Although the relaxed culture is one reason I picked to study in New Zealand it was overwhelming at times. At certain points it frustrating to not know when things were going to happen. For example everyone was hungry and we would have liked to know how much longer we had until dinner.

The strategies I have used to and plan on using involve talking to everyone I can. The people in New Zealand are very friendly and offer assistance immediately. The people I have met so far are easy going, friendly and are willing to talk to anyone. So far my tactics have been pretty successful, so I plan on continuing to talk to the locals and hopefully foster some more friendships.

I choose this picture to include in my blog because it was a personal experience of mine and also represents how I am currently feeling about study abroad. I took this picture while canyoning in Auckland. In the picture I am inbetween the top and the bottom of the canyon, which is similar to how I am feeling at this point in my study abroad journey. I am not quite settled in Dunedin, but I am also somewhere completely new.

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 2913-2914). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Travel Log 3: Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality, by Abby Spooner, Dunedin, New Zealand

For my blog this week I decided to write about my experience in two parts because I have gone through two gradual but distinct stages of separation so far.:

This first section was written prior to my separation from the group I have been traveling with. I first meet up with about 90 students studying all across New Zealand in Los Angeles California and from there we all traveled together to Fiji for a pre semester trip and then later all stayed in Auckland New Zealand for some exploring and orientation sessions.

Fiji island stay!

Fiji island stay!

 

February 17th : Auckland New Zealand (orientation city)

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Sky tower in the city of Auckland. It is the tallest man made structure in the country!

Halfway House Phase

After a full week of being technically abroad I have yet to feel truly abroad and separated from my own culture. I left Boston on Monday February 7th, crossed the International Date Line (losing a full day) and arrived in Fiji on Wednesday February 9th. After four nights in Fiji I made the move to Auckland, New Zealand for four more nights of New Zealand based orientation.

Getting to know people from all across the United States has been an amazing experience. However, it is not what I came abroad to do. As a result, traveling in such a large group as become a bit of a trickster and has prevented me from moving into a true liminal phase. Sometimes it feels as though we are an American bubble, simply moving through another space and country. However, despite the set backs that accompany group travel I have been able to use the security of this international communitas as a positive support as a liminoid. Neither being here nor there is a thought-provoking occurrence, but also a seemingly universal one. Collectively as a group we are no longer in the US, but we are also not ‘at home’ in New Zealand. As a result I have been able to have some incredible conversations about separation and rites of passage, specifically when we visited a Maori Mari. Maori is the native culture to New Zealand and a Mari is what the call the place they live (similar to what an American would call an Native American Reservation). The Mari is a very sacred place for the Maori people. In order to enter their space we had to go through a traditional rite of passage. They referred to this as a welcome ceremony.

First, the ceremony was explained to us and we were told the significance and purpose of the process. I thought of this stage as preparing for separation, similar to the way we wrote letters and mentally prepared for our physical separation from our home life. The majority of the ceremony was in the Maori’s native language, which turned out to add a sense of authenticity to the true rite of passage experience. The ceremony began with us passing through an archway, symbolizing the separation phase- departing our old status and the beginning the liminal phase. We then walked up a grass-cove

The ceiling of the Maori meeting house. Each detail symbolically represents an aspect of the culture.

The ceiling of the Maori meeting house. Each detail symbolically represents an aspect of the culture.

red pathway to meet the Maori people. This space was very sacred to the culture and only those who were invited could enter. As we approached the people of the Mari a horn was blown and a traditional song was sung.

During the experience I remember feeling a faint sense of change as our two communities temporarily become one. Being welcomed in this manner joined the two communitas with the intention of cultural awareness and learning. The Maori people wanted to learn from us as much as we wanted to learn from them. This rite of passage symbolized two cultures coming together to share life as one global community rather than individuals. Following the ceremony we had officially entered the liminal phase as welcomed into the Maori culture. A farewell ceremony was also held to conclude our time together.

This traditional rite of passage got my whole group talking about the concepts we have discussed. In class we defined a rite as “a ceremony or ritual that accompanies a life transition and brings a community together,” and that is exactly what the Maori welcome ceremony did. Two communities were brought together as once in order to mark the transition from outsider to Maori visitor. As a result everyone felt connected to the culture, something we may not have felt without this rite of passage.

The experience also emphasized the idea of a Global Community. Despite our different cultures and varying beliefs, we were all able to participate in a space where differences were embraced and universal human rights were upheld. In class these ideas were merely concepts that I never truly experienced. After visiting the Mari and physically going through a rite of passage, the idea and existence of a global community is no longer a foreign philosophy but an actual entity that is impossible to fully describe without the physical experience. On page 158 Slimbach asks, “Can our substantial differences be a source of mutual enrichment rather than separation?” Based off of my experience at the Mari, the answer to this question is yes. Cultural differences that appear to separate us can actually bond us through the acceptance of a global community and the mutual sharing of ones culture.

 

February 19th : Dunedin New Zealand (My host city)

Flight into Dunedin

Flight into Dunedin

Two days ago I thought my transition and separation was going well. I had yet to feel truly uncomfortable in my surroundings. One of the many benefits to traveling outside the US with 90 other Americans is that home never seems too far away. After reading Chapter 6 of Becoming World Wise I realized that this is what Slimbach refers to as a “half way house,” a mix between strangeness and familiarity. This was a good way to begin the contact phase of separation. However as I said before, I did not come to the other side of the globe to move around in a bubble of American citizens. Slimbach double-edged sward description of a communitas could no be more true. The group was a good way to find my footing in a new country, but I knew I would not be able to truly experience New Zealand culture without once again separating from the familiar.

I have only been in Dunedin for about 24 hours so far. However, I am now experiencing more of the traditional abroad transition feelings. I am only beginning to enter “phase 3: Disintegration.” Although I may not have a language barrier like many other international students, there remains an abundance of unfamiliar here in New Zealand. This was particularly apparent during my first grocery shopping adventure. Having grown up learning how to grocery shop from my mom I walked into the small store here expecting to be an expert grocery shopper. To my surprise (but probably not yours) this was not the case. No brand names I am familiar with left me wondering which jar of peanut butter is best? Which laundry detergent actually works? And more importantly, how am I going to get this all back to my flat without a car? Although the initial unfamiliarity of the store was shocking, I was able to get lots of new food to try and could not be more excited to experiment in the kitchen!

During my encounters with unfamiliarity I have been able to use the skills and knowledge I gained during our workshop. The strategy that has suck with me throughout my time here has been to really hone in on the ABCs of cultural contact. Although my emotions and thoughts have been centered on unfamiliarity, I have not yet let these emotions affect my actions. As a result my ability to remain calm has been my most valued strength thus far. To date I have been able to recover from the unfamiliar in a healthy way, allowing myself to truly step back and see the full picture. There is still much more unfamiliar to be explored, but I am feeling prepared and ready for the challenges ahead.

 

IMG_6676For my pictures this week I couldn’t choose just one. Taking photos is one of my favorite things to do, so I just had to share as many of them as I could! I think the one that best depicts my transformation to date is the one of my in front of the University of Otago clock tower. It may not be the Quinnipiac clock tower, but I feel the Otago one symbolizes a bit of the unfamiliar but also a bit of the familiar, and that is exactly how I feel right now. I have just begun my transition from half way house to a true liminal status and this picture represents those emotions perfectly!

Travel Log 3 “Betwixt and Between… so this is Liminality” Athena Rine, Seville Spain

There were so many emotions in the car on the way to the airport. Between my parents, my sister, and me we were all excited, nervous, overwhelmed, happy, sad, and everything in between. My flight was delayed an hour and a half, so that made my walk through the gate and official separation a bit harder, but to my surprise, it was not as difficult as I expected. Luckily there were lots of words of encouragement and hugs but only a few tears. I met up with a few girls in my program at the airport, which helped feel less alone and more secure with leaving. When I arrived in Madrid 7 hours later I was a bit nervous about navigating an unfamiliar airport without the help of my parents, but the group of us were able to figure out where to go together and eventually made it to our hotel. Over the past few days we have been exploring different cities in Spain such as Madrid, Toledo, and Córdoba. Living out of a suitcase packed for 4 months has been quite difficult, but the excursions have been nothing shy of amazing. I cannot believe how much I have learned, seen, and explored in such a short period of time. I reached my final destination of Sevilla just 48 hours ago and am so excited to be settled in and living here!

Although I haven’t been in Sevilla for too long, I feel more at home here than any other city simply because I have a room with a closet and a place to call home. I’m living in what is known as a residencia, which is like a big apartment in the heart of the city. There are 20 study abroad students here including myself and we have a family that comes in and cooks, cleans, and does our laundry. Communicating with them is tough considering they only speak about 5 words of English, but the combination of my intermediate level Spanish and hand gestures help to get the point across! As far as the city goes, it’s a great size and there are such nice people here but of course I do feel out of place. People can tell I am an American within seconds of looking at me, even if I don’t open my mouth. I am trying to blend in by following tips about clothing, where to go, what to do, and what to avoid, but unfortunately I still manage to stand out in a crowd. My Spanish is getting better and I am learning new phrases and words every day. I am hoping that breaking the language barrier over the next few weeks here will assist me in my adaption to this new way of life.

Because my study abroad trip is facilitated through a program called API, I have gotten the chance to meet and spend time with tons of other American study abroad students. Going on excursions with all of them has been great because I obviously wouldn’t want to, nor would I know how to, explore all these different places completely on my own. I feel like we are all there for each other and can look to each other when experiencing a new food or gesture or even street sign that we are unfamiliar with. At the same time I feel as if having all of these people around me could hinder my study abroad experience because they are like a comfort zone that I am hesitant to leave. The shy, anxious part of me wants to cling to the American friends I have made, but the courageous and more exploratory part of me knows this isn’t a good idea. I have no doubt that the presence of this security blanket is helping me more than it will hurt me, but I need to be aware of how much time I am spending with people from my home country versus the locals if Sevilla because I don’t want to miss out on cultural involvements and opportunities that may come my way. I have noticed that some students choose to stick very closely to their friends from home and opt to have other students translate for them when they need something rather than attempting to speak Spanish on their own. I view these people as examples of what I do not want to do. They are a good reminder for me about why I came here and how I do not want to look back my time studying abroad and think that I took the easy way out or didn’t get the full cultural experience out of my journey.

I have noticed that things I would consider challenges here are much different than things I would call challenges back home. Based on what I have encountered so far, I would define my challenges here as things I took for granted when I was living in America, or things that I was so used to in America that have changed and that I now need to adapt to here. Some examples include having heat and air conditioning throughout my home, having a car, having a very limited supply of hot shower water, blending in with crowds of people, being able to eat what I want when I want it, altering my sleep and meal schedules, knowing my way around town and feeling secure with my surroundings, being unaware of cultural expectations and manners, and easily being able to communicate using the English language. (I could go on…) Although these seem like complaints, they really aren’t because I knew when I came here that I was signing up for a new life that would not be like what I am used to. Slimbach mentions a quote from Janet Bennett that I think really sums up how I feel about these challenges. “It is not merely ‘not knowing what to do’ but it is more a case of not being able to do what one has come to value doing.” (Slimbach, 154)

The more time I spend here, the more I realize how spoiled I am back home. Compared to what I have seen and experienced in Sevilla so far, I have noticed what luxurious lives most Americans live. Not everyone in Spain has a car, or heat, or air conditioning, and they are definitely way more concerned with saving water, turning off lights, and other things of that nature. I think my time here is helping me to better distinguish between wants and needs. I am definitely learning to “not sweat the small stuff” and becoming a more easygoing individual by letting the little things roll off my back.

I had an orientation for school today at La Universidad Pablo de Olavide. There they presented the many options I have as a study abroad student to get involved with Spanish students and their community. Currently I am considering going to Spanish primary schools and helping to teach young children English, babysitting for some local families, and joining the Flamenco club to take classes! Although the thought of doing these things scares me a bit because my American friends will not be there to hold my hand, I think they are great opportunities and will help to facilitate my entry into the Spanish community. As these and more cultural involvements come my way, I hope to be as open and accepting as possible to new thoughts and ways of doing things. I will try my best to put myself out there and involve myself in these events as they come along, being as flexible and comfortable as possible. (Even if I need to fake it ’till I make it!)

IMG_1713I chose this picture to describe my journey to date because I really feel that it highlights my liminal status. While I am here in Sevilla I am still an outsider, overlooking the happenings of the city but not truly partaking in them firsthand just yet. I feel like I am more a part of this new country than I every was before, but at the same time I am still fully aware that I do not blend in and am always conscious of my actions and how they affect my portrayal to the Spaniards. During my time here one of my goals is to work my way to the inside, so much so that tourists who visit this country are able to stand where I am in this picture and see me as someone that blends and belongs in Sevilla.

TL3:Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality-By: Erin Foley Paris, France

After my flight from Boston Logan International Airport had a mishap with the cargo apparatus, I finally landed at Charles de Gaulle airport, or Roissy (as the locals call it) two hours later than expected. My program’s staff brought us to our respective housing after giving us a brief information session. When I met Maman Bertrand, my host mother, I could not bring myself to even form a French sentence, although I have taken it since middle school. I was extremely overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of my new home. Slimbach flawlessly describes this phenomenon: “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” (152). It was as if I was a shell, my old identity had left, a new one not yet formed. At five o’clock, we were expected to meet back at my program’s center pour “un goûter Normande,” or a Normandy snack, of crepes. While everyone else had a roommate to return with, I was expected to use the metro, for the first time I may add, by myself. Living outside of Boston, I rarely use public transportation and I drive everywhere instead. With the help of my host mother, I successfully traveled there and back by metro.

My communitas of other study abroad students although important, can be very linguistically restrictive at times. Although I have made many American friends, most are comfortable speaking only English with one other. As we are all new to Parisian life, we cling to one another, thereby limiting our French language acquisition. Overall, however, we all respect the culture and use French with locals as much as possible.

Challenges, although often, are to be expected. I have already encountered trouble with the use of metro tickets and choosing the correct line/direction of which I want to go. I treat each challenge not as an adversary, but as a source of learning. Every time I must ask for directions, I am practicing interacting with a local, which has benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages of the challenge. I have already noticed that my French has remarkably improved, even after only one day here! My host mother is very patient and willing to help fix minor grammatical errors whenever they occur. By taking my time to adjust my understanding of the culture, I have found patience within myself that I did not know existed.

After an exciting first few days, the entire group attended a mandatory cultural adaptation workshop. The CEA director presented an eye-opening phenomenon, with origin in Pascal Baudry’s philosophies: Americans are like peaches while the French are more like coconuts. On the surface, this sounds absolutely ridiculous yet makes complete sense. Americans are culturally expected to act friendly towards everyone and offer a warm disposition that seems inviting, yet hide the most personal details the minute someone provokes a sore subject; they are soft and “fuzzy” on the outside, yet completely solid, like a pit, on the inside. The French, conversely, are already closed off to begin. If you are able to penetrate their seemingly cold and private nature, you will be considered a friend for life, having access to their most personal details. In hopes of assimilating to this culture and meeting locals, I will follow this odd philosophy. Another important aspect of integration and assimilation is the use, or at least the attempted use, of the language. The French consider their language of utmost importance, and even with incorrect pronunciation or misplaced adjectives, they still appreciate your perseverance. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I have noticed that many of my American friends do not wish to speak French amongst one another, although most of us are here for language improvement. It is disappointing, to say the least.

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I have included a picture of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower, smiling away. I chose this particular image because regardless of what hurdle I must jump, I must maintain perspective. I have been looking forward to traveling here for years, and I will not let a trivial problem, such as the metro, get in the way of that.

Travel Log 3 “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” by Kari Julien Trice- Barcelona, Spain

When the plane first started to land in Barcelona, I excitedly looked out the window to have a look at the beautiful city that would soon become my new home for the next four months. After landing in Spain from a six-hour flight, grabbing my luggage, and loading all of our belongings into the airport pickup vehicle, I was ready to arrive to my apartment and explore the city. As there were about 10 of us sitting in a large van, we made our departure from the airport and drove around the city to drop off each person to their new home. After driving through the streets of Barcelona and seeing where each person was living, my two friends and I were the last stop.

Once I settled into my apartment I immediately felt the excitement of being in Barcelona. I sent my mom a picture of my room and looked out of the window to my new surroundings. The first week was definitely a bit of an adjustment. In Barcelona they normally do not eat dinner until 10 p.m., and with the time difference my sleep schedule was a little off. But I instantly fell in love with the culture and city. During the first week I walked around the city a lot, visited the Park Guell, and tried different foods. I have been working on learning the language better by speaking Spanish in each store I go into, and I feel that with that I have learned more here.

With the separation process, I feel that I have had a smooth transition. At times it can be a little difficult with the time difference, but with all of today’s technology I am able to keep in contact with my friends and family easily. I have setup a time to FaceTime with my parents each week, and with the surrounding Wi-Fi and WhatsApp, I am able to keep in contact with my friends from home. Although I do miss my family and friends, I have been continuously growing in love with Barcelona so much that I would say I do not feel homesick. There are so many beautiful new things to do and see here that time moves so fast and you start to lose track of the amount of days passing.

In our workshop we discussed communitas as individuals that are facing the same challenges and experiences with one another. As I am living in an apartment with 6 other girls who are studying abroad in the same program as me, I realize that we are all going through the same challenges of being separated from our homes in the U.S., our families, friends, and sense of comfort. I feel that being in this foreign country, my roommates have been a comfort level and have helped me adjust better, as we are all going through the same process. With the idea of communitas I have noticed that many people in this program are open to meeting new people and bonding over the idea that we are all going through this experience together. I think one personal strength I have is that I am always open to meeting and interacting with new people. Within my first week here I have actually met a local student here at the University of Barcelona, and she is hoping that I can help improve her English, while she helps me with my Spanish.

I think the challenges we go through in life are vital for us in order to grow as an individual. We are each diving into a different culture and experiencing the process of liminality. “A first step in this direction is to mentally brace ourselves into the realm of the unknown” (Slimbach 2877). It has been a challenge for me to learn the Spanish language, but each day I push myself to speak to locals in order to grasp more of the language. I have learned that here in Spain, they are more affectionate and up-close with their interactions between each other. Back in the U.S., people usually like to have more personal space.

Some of my friends from Quinnipiac are with me in Barcelona, but I hope during this experience to meet more people and interact with the locals here. I have met a few students in my classes, all from different parts of the U.S., including California, Michigan, and Ohio. Since I have already made a friend that lives here in Barcelona, I am hoping that I will be able to learn even more about the language. This picture here was taken on my fourth day in this beautiful city when my roommates and I decided to explore more of Barcelona. I think this picture portrays my excitement to learn more about Spain’s culture and to embrace my new surroundings. I am looking forward to the journey I have ahead.

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

TL3: Betwixt and between.. so this is liminality – Mitchell Trulli

As I arrived in Barcelona after not sleeping for over 24 hours because of layovers and delays I am in a daze staring out the bus window at the foreign country. After a long night sleep I wake up to look out of the window greeted by a street filled with small cars, skinny streets with people laughing and chatting in bars and shops and a hotel filled with people I was eager to meet. I had not anticipated my excitement to be this high, I was supremely comfortable at first as we spent the first day guided around with English speakers and a hotel filled mostly with Americans. I was not fully immersed in the culture until the next day when we were dropped off at our apartment and left to fend for ourselves. Specifically it was my first interaction with a waiter at a restaurant who did not speak one word of English, this lead to a pointing of fingers and hand gestures trying to order food and then suddenly realizing I am truly not in America anymore. I was not immersed into the Spanish culture (I am still not) and I am not in America, I was officially in the liminoid state I was no longer here nor there.

The communitas or group of people sharing this experience together has bonded together and supported one another over this first week. This struggle to become part of the Spanish culture has crafted some beautiful friendships so far. I have grown closer than I could have imagined with some of the people that I have just met as we struggle through this rite of passage. I have made a lot of progress feeling “at home” although it isn’t home yet. I food shop every other day at the market next door, I am making a lot of progress learning Spanish, I have mastered the metro system and can order food seamlessly at a restaurant. As Slimbach said “Until we’re able to actually risk new ways of thinking and behaving, our general well-being and field learning are likely to hindered.” (Slimbach 160) I can specifically remember the first time I went on the metro by myself, the nervous feelings I had and the heightened sense of anxiety as I tried to figure out where I was. This risk taking has lead me to feel extremely comfortable alone in the city, asking for directions, or navigating the metro by myself. I have learned through this process that their culture is much slower than America, nobody is in a rush and people enjoy the smaller luxuries of life more. For example nobody eats alone, it is considered a social activity and a dinner lasts 2-3x as long as an American meal. Although it can be aggravating when you are in a rush I have slowly begun to learn to accept it and immerse myself in their culture and relax at a meal enjoying the time spent with friends, the food, and surroundings.

Slimbach explains a few examples that I have taken advantage of showing how one can “find imaginative ways to invite the unknown and cultivate a network of close-knit and supportive friends” (171 Slimbach) I have joined a local gym down the street which should help to cultivate some new and local friendships in addition to introducing myself to the owners of the markets that I frequently shop at. I have been looking for some sort of soccer club or perhaps a grappling gym that I can join which were activities I enjoyed back in the US, it should be interesting to see how they engage in these activities and what I could possibly bring to the table.

I chose a picture someone took of me and two friends wandering through Placa de Catalon on our first day. You can see how surrounded by people we are but yet how lost, amazed, and confused we were walking through this foreign city trying to navigate back to our hotel. I believe this picture captures how we felt during the first week, just a couple foreign kids lost in the amazement of this beautiful city and culture which will soon become out home.

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Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” by Aileen Sheluck – London, England

I’ve been in London for a total of 10 days now, and so far, I love it. Everything is so busy and exciting, which is far different from what I’m used to (I live in the middle of the woods in Connecticut). Everything is within walking distance, and, if not in walking distance, it’s probably only 10-20 minutes by tube (London’s underground subway system). On the second day here, I walked around to see all the typical “tourist-y” sights. I wanted to get that over with so that I could really try to fully immerse myself in the culture and function like a true Londoner. I was awestruck at the beauty of Big Ben, Dorm View Spring2016Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, etc. It was so much more amazing in person than I ever could have imagined it to be from pictures. To the left is the view from my dorm room on the 12th floor of the Marylebone Hall of Residence, where I’ll be living for the next 5 months.

In regards to physically separating from home, I found it a lot easier than I anticipated. Surprisingly, I did not cry when my mom left at the airport (I had been emotionally preparing myself to completely embarrass myself with the amount of tears streaming down my face). Luckily, I flew to London with my roommate from Quinnipiac, which helped me a lot to keep calm. After the complete stress of temporarily losing my passport on the plane (probably the hardest part for me about leaving!) I made it into the country very easily. So far, I’ve skyped my family once to update them on my new surroundings and everything I’ve been doing. I’ve been so busy doing a million different things that time hasn’t really allowed me to think about being homesick, which I think is a blessing.

The liminal phase – here I am. I definitely feel the concept of “betwixt and between” strongly now that I’m here. I’m not with my friends from home, but I’ve only lived in my dorm for a few days, and that is not enough time to really make friends. When we talked about communitas during the seminars, we said that these are the people that are going through the same transition as you. For me, these are the people that are also studying abroad here. Communitas have been vital to me since I’ve arrived. I’m living in a dorm with mostly all other study abroad students, so they’re really the only people I’ve encountered. Slimbach stated, “No matter how well prepared, broad minded, or full of good intentions we may be, entering a new culture knocks our cultural props our from under us” (Slimbach 152). Being around a lot of other study abroad students has allowed me to keep on my feet, for the most part. These are people that are experiencing the same differences in culture that I am, the same changes in time zone, the same new surroundings, etc. One of my major weaknesses is that I like comfort. I like being around people I know, in places I know, doing things I know. This made this transition a lot harder for me because everything about it is unknown – the people, the place, and the activities. It’s really comforting to know that you’re not the only one completing a transition like this, which is why I’m very glad to have had communitas with me. Something I’ve noticed with other students interacting with communitas is that it becomes a lot easier to be around strangers when you’re all doing the same thing. People are more apt to say, “Hi, how are you?” or “What floor are you on?” or “Where are you from?” when they know that the other person is going through the same experience that they are, as opposed to simply staying in a hotel on vacation, where you would never dream of speaking to a stranger in an elevator.

Challenges are a part of life, especially when going through a life transition or rite of passage. Nothing like this is going to run absolutely smoothly, but that’s part of the experience. Challenges are important because, “To be transformative, our path must necessarily take turns and present obstacles that are, at times, greater than our ability to navigate them” (Slimbach 155). The biggest challenge for me so far is acclimating to the different practices of the people here. For example, tube rides are silent. No one speaks. If you’re talking on the tube, everyone looks at you with a look of distaste similar to that which would be on your face if you were drinking expired milk. I’m the type of person who loves to talk, and I’m more used to the New York City subway, where sometimes it’s too loud to even hear the person next to you.

Luckily for me, I came to London with a couple friends from Quinnipiac. They are mostly who I’ve been doing things with here. All of my flatmates are American, so that doesn’t really help me make any “international” friends. We start classes on Monday, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make a bunch of new friends from different countries that way. I also hope that I’ll be able to befriend my friends’ flatmates, many of which are from different countries. It’s amazing how easy it is to become friends with someone when you already have a mutual friend!

This picture describes my journey to date because everything so far has been really tourist-y. It describes what I’ve done because we’ve goBig Ben Spring2016ne to all the different sites typical of someone coming on vacation to London. It also describes how I’m feeling because I’m so excited to be here, and everything is so different and so new. I thought about London and going to all the tourist-y sites for months, and it’s unbelievable that I’ve actually done it! I’ve been in this amazing city for a little over a week, and I’m already in love. I can’t wait to continue my stay here and continue to discover more and more about this country and this culture and myself.

Travel Log 3″Betwixt and Between” by Lauren Kantrovitz, Florence Italy. 

My first week abroad… One of the most mentally exhausting, exciting, confusing seven days of my life that I have experienced thus far. To begin, the first few days in Florence, Italy was far from what I expected. I have been to Italy before on a ten day high school trip of which I visited several Italian cities, not including Florence. Although I had been to Italy before, I had many of the same feelings that many study abroad students feel prior to departure: excitation and nerves. Student’s may choose their destination based on the novel surroundings and challenges a country may present, or the newfound ability for one to travel to places with pristine beauty within its culture, environment, and people, in the hopes that it will all lead to self growth. I have been taking part in excessive research since the day I applied to the program, sometimes unable to think of anything else as it had been a dream for so long. Sometimes when one has a dream, it can become just that due to unrealistic expectations that are not always met. When one is finally placed in a scenario where they are able to fulfill a lifelong dream, it can quickly become frustrating when things don’t happen the way one has planned or dreamt them to pan out. On account of my persistent research, mostly consisting of reading blogs about other people’s experiences, I thought I knew every restaurant I would attend and on which night, what gym I would join, or where I would frequent. However to be honest, I think that was detrimental now that I have begun my experience. Although I would never recommend to blindly go into a trip, I would suggest to simply limit oneself to a day or two of research consisting of a few restaurants, museums, and activities that are a must during one’s travels. Just like Slimbach stated, “we eagerly embrace the ‘prospect'” by saying “I just can’t wait to…” (156). This is fine as long as we don’t allow our anticipation to define what our journey should be instead of just letting it be.

When I arrived in Florence, I was shocked at how city-like the outskirts were. I remember thinking how much it looked like parts of New York City that I have visited before. As we approached the heart of Florence, near the Duomo of course, I could not help but pray that the city would become more like what I had envisioned: Italian looking, much like many of the Italian cities I had visited in the past. Then out of no where, the moment I had been waiting for and trying to envision had finally arrived. The cab driver was taking my luggage out of the car and placing it in front of the apartment that I would soon live in for the next four months. Locking hands with my friend Sarah, with extreme excitement and apprehension, we grabbed our bags and began our journey.

We were the last to arrive in a large apartment of eight girls. Our room, the smallest, although the coziest, was empty and cold, quite literally with marble floors and little heat. Immediately, I felt my heart drop and I knew Sarah’s had too when a flood of nerves came over us that were rather evident on both of our faces. However, we tried to smile despite our tiredness knowing our apartment is just one part of this journey. I mean, how bad could it really be?
Of course, we wanted to meet our future roommates that we would be living alongside for the next four months! However we found that all of the bedroom doors were shut, the lights off and the apartment quiet while we were given a tour around our new home. The washing machine next to our stove, a stove of which we had to first turn the gas on and then ignite with a match to work. A living room that looked like a bedroom and was about 20 feet from our ours. Finally, two bathrooms with showers so small I don’t think someone with a frame much larger than my small 5’2″ body could fit into. As Sarah and I were finally left alone in our new bedroom, we looked at each other and knew we had to explore the city, not just because we had been dying to see it for the past three months, but because we both knew deep down how much we were now questioning our choice to go abroad. We were on roughly two hours of sleep, a cappuccino, and two Swiss chocolates from our flight from Zurich. We needed food. Although I would normally advise one not to walk into a restaurant with no one else dining there, we were too hungry otherwise. It was a holiday in Florence so not much was open and we were in Italy for god sakes, so how bad could it be? We each ordered a glass of wine and a margarita pizza. Comically, it was the worst pizza of my entire life. How fitting I thought.
That night, I got an hour of sleep between my hopeless sobs. Prior to bed, Sarah mentioned how she was already homesick and was worried that she may not have made the right decision about studying abroad. She mentioned how hard it was to think about the fact that she would not be able to see her parents for four months. I couldn’t help but agree but I had been looking forward to this trip for so long! At first, when I was consoling her telling her it would be the best four months of our lives and that it will go by so quickly, I was confident in my words. However once the lights were turned off and it was time to spend my first night in Florence, those negative thoughts bombarded my mind and I could not be more frightened towards the journey I had been dreaming about for years. All of these unexpected differences from what I had pictured my experience to be, made me feel more unsure and alone than ever. I never expected myself to feel the way I had the first night at college my freshman year again. The difference being that I was two plane rides and a continent away.
Sarah and I had stayed up all night crying and consoling each other, so unsure of decision to go abroad. But tomorrow would be a new day; The first day to see the city of Florence in the sunlight. The next day, I saw all of my fellow communitas which made me feel extremely better. We went to coffee to start the day with our six other roommates and later saw other students from Quinnipiac at orientation. Although still tired, our first day was great and I felt much better after seeing the city during the day. As the next few days progressed, I felt that I was in an okay place, still tired, yes, but enjoying the ability to venture around the city and begin to plan my weekend trips to come. However Sarah, who had always been the person who had always dreamt of studying abroad, was not being herself. There was clearly tension between the two of us, snapping at each other and acting unlike we normally do toward one another. Each day I knew Sarah was struggling which was not something I had entirely anticipated. There were things that I wish I could have changed about our apartment and the life that I was slowly adjusting towards, however I am the type of person who will often embrace the situation I am placed into. Like most, I also feed off of people’s emotions, even if negative, that surround me. Each day we were walking distances I had never before and eating food that was heavenly. However I could not place my nerves aside about the thought of Sarah being depressed throughout our trip.
About four days in, we decided to finally book our first trip, to Interlaken, Switzerland, of which I am sitting on a bus to as we speak. Immediately after booking the trip and writing down possible dates that we planned to travel to other places, I saw a change in Sarah. She was finally acting like herself again, a talkative and happy girl. Yes, I thought. Things were finally coming together. However both of our emotions were on a roller coaster, going up and down. On the sixth night of our trip, we hit an all time low. We had yet to have a scoop of gelato and I turned to Sarah at 10pm while we were both on our laptops, and told her we should get up and get some late night gelato as it was open until 11pm! She turned to me with tears rolling down her face. “I have to talk to you”, she told me. Despite the fact that we had spoken almost everyday about how hard this trip was thus far, while convincing each other that we would get back to being our go happy selves, I cannot say the conversation that I was about to have with Sarah was one I was expecting. “I think I want to leave and go back to Quinnipiac for the semester”,  she told me. I knew it was coming. I knew how unhappy she was thus far and that there was nothing I could do to help her just as she told me as her and I both knew it was her own internal struggles. Her thoughts reminded me very much of Lena who studied abroad in Lagos, Nigeria in “Becoming World Wise” by Slimbach, as Lena said she was trying not to count down the days until she was scheduled to leave (159). I didn’t want to tell Sarah she wasn’t trying as I knew how hard she wanted to enjoy the city of Florence, however I was having a difficult time conveying to her without her becoming defensive, that she was not giving it enough time as it had only been six days. Additionally, when one yearns for what they don’t have, it can be difficult to appreciate what is in front of you. I began to cry when the entirety of the dream that I had pictured, with Sarah always by my side, was beginning to change. Sarah later told me that night that she was not going home after speaking to her parents and that she knew she needed to give it more time.
Two days later, things were getting much better as we were beginning our exciting weekend trips with our other communitas. However I was surprised to see just how much communitas, whether that be your best friend or not, can affect your well being and experiences. On a positive note, this discovery is a new self-awareness as Slimbach explained, “New self-awareness allows us to recognize not only our own feelings but also how those feelings affect other people” (163). My dad, who always gives me the best advice, told me I am a strong girl and that even if I were on this trip alone, I would find a way to make this journey unforgettable reminding me to do this trip for myself and not allow myself to be held back. If I want to go and see my other friends, I should. If I want to have a pizza alone, I should. If I want to go skydiving, I should; I am (in the next 12 hours!!!)!

I have learned a great deal in the past week due to the challenges that I have faced, which is part of the reason why I know this will be an incredible learning experience. It has allowed me to remind myself that I am a strong, independent person that can travel the world by myself if need be. It has taught me that I cannot plan my future and that I cannot control other people’s emotions, as much as I may want to. It has reminded me how awful I am at directions and that I need to hone in on my map reading skills. It has taught me to love language as I used to dread the idea of learning a new language, yet it now it excites me to be able to speak to the locals.

We have had our entire lives to learn the norms that persist in our culture at home in America, of which can still present us with difficulties. When placed in an entirely new culture and country, you don’t have time to “grow up” nor can you begin your journey like an innocent child holding your mothers hand. You have to jump in with both feet (maybe you can have a walker/cane by your side!). For the first time, I was truly an outsider. I was never taught to deal with that, as I had always lived in a place that embraced equality; a life in which I’ve never had to think about what it feels like to be different.

The challenges I am still facing, which I know I can overcome, includes not allowing how it has rained almost everyday in the city of Florence since my arrival to bring me down and effect my emotions. Our apartment is cold, the shower floods regularly already having been fixed twice in the past week, and we are at least a twenty minute WALK from food, friends, and classes. However the plus side is that I can eat as much pizza and pasta as I want (when in Italy right?)! Finally, Sarah and I did not get very lucky with our roommates as they are a bit caddy and rather inconsiderate of the other people living in the apartment. However this just reminds me how thankful I am for all my wonderful roommates and best friends back at home at Quinnipiac that I can’t wait to eventually come back to in the Fall.
I can’t believe I have already experienced so much in my first week abroad. I look at the pictures I have taken and I can’t believe that all of that occurred in a time period consisting of seven days! Wow, the life experiences that I am about to embark on for the next four months excites me! Although there have many struggles, with more challenges to come, I will conquer them as I will embrace this trip and make it dream worthy even if it isn’t the dream I originally thought up; because this one will be better.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning.” Stylus. Sterling, Virginia. 2010.

Travel Log 3 “Betwixt and Between…so this is Liminality” By Chris Wilner, London, England

“When we discover that things in our destination culture are profoundly different from things at home, our natural tendency is not to move toward them but to flee away from them.” (Slimbach, 159) When I first arrived in London, my first instinct was to ask people the questions that I did not have the answers to. I was a stranger in a strange land; I knew where I needed to go, but I did not know how to get there. The only thing that I thought to do was to ask the locals and hope that someone would be friendly enough to point me in the correct direction. The thing that I was most surprised about when entering into the country was the fact that people were a lot friendlier than they were at home. It may have been the fact that I had a lot of bags with me and people took pity on me or they were genuinely nice, I like to think that it was the latter.

The easy part of the entire endeavor was getting to my hotel, once I got into the country, the hardest part for me was saying goodbye to the people that meant the most to me. When people asked me before if I was ready to leave I was always ready with the answer yes, but when the final day came, I wasn’t ready to leave my loved ones. Goodbyes have never been easy for me so saying goodbye to my mom, brother and girlfriend were extremely difficult because I have never taken on something like this before. I was definitely not anticipating it to be as hard as it was to hug them and say the words goodbye.

When I got to London, I was first introduced to the members of the Arcadia community that would also be going to Queen Mary University of London and I became friends as quickly as I could with them so that I would know some people while here in the city. That was short lived however because as we settled into our rooms everyone started making new friends and building a new community including myself. I soon became very close with my flat mates, as we would be spending quite a lot of time together, cooking our meals and stressing about school as any other student would. We played some games to try to get to know each other and I never felt like an outcast. Once I got to know everyone, I was welcomed in with open arms and I was told that I fulfilled the wish lists of the boys in my flat because they were looking for a fourth guy since they were so out numbered by the women. I think a lot of the reason why I was so welcomed was because I’m not a very shy person so I didn’t let those awkward situations happen as well as the fact that I keep my door open so anyone can pop their head in if they want to speak to me or see what I’m doing.

It was easy for me to become a part of the community that I will be living in for the next couple of months because I am an outgoing person and am willing to make friends. I have two other flat mates that are from the United States and one of them seemed to have a harder time getting to know the rest of the flat because she was on the shyer side of the spectrum. While I was sitting in the kitchen playing Ping-Pong with some of the guys from the flat, my flat mate came in the room and filled her water bottle and proceeded to walk out of the room without saying a word to anyone. This changed when the girls arrived and one of them invited her to play cards against humanity with us. She is still a little standoffish, but she has begun to interact with each member of the flat more and more each day.

Besides the challenge of getting to know people while here in London, the biggest challenge that I am going to face while here is figuring out what to do with my time. There is a lot of room for independent learning while here since classes only commence once a week. The challenge that I am going to face is when to get my work done and when to hang around as well as keeping up with the readings for each class. It is going to be a slight challenge figuring out how to balance everything, but I know that if I have any problems or questions that I can rely on the community that I have immersed myself in. By having the week to get acclimated, I have learned that I quite enjoy being self-sufficient and not having to rely on anyone or anything to tell me what to do and when to do it.

With the amount of free time that I have had since getting here, I think that has allowed me to make friends with my flat mates. Since there are eleven of us, including myself, it has been pretty easy to get to know them. They have invited me to go out to on a couple of occasions, which has allowed for a bond to be built on each of those occasions.IMG_2861

This picture perfectly shows my journey to date because it highlights
some of the most important landmarks in London as well as a journey that I took with my flat mates last weekend in order to get to know them better. This was an experience to see new things for all of us and it also shows the newness of my life in London. This is a magnificent place with so many things that have yet to have been discovered.