Friday, July 11, 2008

My Experience Abroad

By Nakita Dziegielewski

Now that I am back in the beautiful U.S.A., it is now time for me to reflect on what I have learned and gained from my trip abroad. This self-reflection is necessary in order to see what I have taken away from this trip. This self-reflection is good because it allows me to see what personal view or attitudes, if any, have changed from being away. It is also necessary because self-reflection will allow me to see what I would/could have changed in order to make my Russian adventure and future adventures successful and enjoyable.

One thing that I have most definitely learned about studying abroad is that immersing myself in another culture was a lot harder than it looks. A person cannot just do one thing to become apart of a culture, but many. From what I have experienced, the essentials that are needed in order to be totally immersed include: learning the language (the most important in my opinion), adopting the clothing, hair, etc. style, knowing the cuisine and actually eating it, knowing the traditions, and in the Russia, the superstitions, and knowing the basics of what drives and motivates the culture. All of these aspects are what allows someone to totally become apart of Russian culture.

I realized from my experience that I didn’t have all of these essentials mastered, but I did try to incorporate them into my everyday life in Russia. I tried to communicate to the best of my ability. I tried to shape my clothing style to that of the Russians, but more times than not, I was not terribly successful in that department. I did eat the local cuisine, and I somewhat knew the basics of Russian culture. Even though I didn’t master the essentials, I still feel as though I was able to be a part of Russian culture and I was able to gain insight from a culture so different from my own.

Now when it comes to self-reflection on changed views or attitudes, I would say that only a few views or attitudes have changed. One is that my experience abroad made me appreciate the U.S. even more. I have always valued my country, but I have made judgments on the faults that our country houses. Now, that is not a bad thing by any means, as U.S citizens we need to recognize our countries faults. But after visiting Russia, I have become much more aware about how much our country does do for its citizens, and I have become much more appreciative of the United States of America. While this trip has provided me with new perspectives, overall my views and attitudes have not changed from this trip.

Lastly, when it comes to self-reflection on things that I would have changed in order to make my trip better, my number one answer is language. I never realized how not knowing a culture's language would tremendously influenced the outcome of my trip. I believe that my experience abroad was great, but I know for a fact that it would have been better had I know the language fluently. I knew the basics, but it definitely wasn’t enough. I hated that I couldn’t bargain at the market in Russian and that I couldn’t have full, detailed conversation with the locals. Besides the language there is nothing else I would change.

My month abroad was filled with mostly positive (and some negative) experiences, but it was an amazing experience overall. I have learned so much about Russian culture, and I have learned a lot about myself. Will I ever visit Russia again? I’m not sure, but I do know that my traveling to foreign lands has just begun.

No comments: