Thursday, January 31, 2013

Re-entry: Bringing It Home After Studying Abroad

In one of my last posts, I talked about what you should do when you come home from study abroad.  We often refer to this as "re-entry," which makes me think of spacecraft falling back to earth on a turbulent cushion of superheated air.  Exhilarating, terrifying, and hard to explain to those who haven't gone through it, I imagine.

Now let me offer one more step that will make re-entry even more valuable for you.  As you journal and reflect on what you saw while you were abroad, take time to look over your journal entries, and ask yourself, What do I want to bring home?

What will you bring home?

Charles Peirce once wrote, "An American who has never been abroad fails to perceive the characteristics of Americans." Now you've been abroad, and you see things differently.  Make your new vision matter.  Is there one lesson you can incorporate into your life? One thing you saw abroad that you wish you could have here?

When I've lived in Europe, I've never needed a car, but here in the U.S. I often feel I need to drive even when I'm not going very far.  So I've decided to try to walk or bike whenever I can, and to use public transit.  It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference for my health, and it might make a difference in the lives of others around me.  This is one thing I've brought home.  

So how about you?  What did you learn?  What do you see differently?  And what will you bring home?

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