New Perspectives

April 16, 2011

I just went to an all-day session in Salem so that I can get Core credit at Gordon for studying abroad. We did some readings and reflections beforehand, attempting to give us some frame of reference for what kind of crazy adventure it will be when we actually go to another country for an extended period of time.

It’s incredible, the fact that before I know it, I will be living in another country, where people do NOT speak English as their native language, and at a college where people do NOT assume you are an evangelical Christian or even believe in God at all. They might not have the same basic values as me, and there are going to be problems in communication and in understanding. I have two basic options: I can separate myself from the new culture and retreat into an American bubble, seeking help from my American friends at home or from the other American students in Spain. I can stand on the veranda, so to speak, just watching all the cultural differences from afar and staying far away from getting messy in the middle of it.

But that doesn’t sound like me. No: I, the outrageous person that I am, have chosen the path of most-resistance. I want to get in the middle of it, to experience life the way that a Spaniard does. I want to understand their deeper motivations and what makes them tick. I don’t want to associate with my country, honestly. It’s not that I dislike America; it’s just that America isn’t what I want to define me. I’m not the typical consumerist, pleasure-seeking, American-dream chasing US college student, and I don’t want to come at this new culture with that mindset. It’s almost as if my entire life I’ve been living in this place that, yes, I call home, but I don’t want to be my only home.

I know that when I get to another country, I will have moments where the thing that I want more than anything in the world is to just go back home for a couple of days. I know that I will have moments that make me want to scream and pull my hair out and throw a tantrum like I used to do when I was a child. It’s not easy being immersed in a new culture. But I agree with Donald Miller in his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, when he says that “joy costs pain” (p.100). The best things in this world come out of a conquering of a difficult, painful experience. When we overcome a truly difficult situation, we experience true joy. And we gain a new perspective. You can’t take the easy way out and get these results. So you’ve gotta keep pressing on.

On a slightly unrelated note, I also took the Myers-Briggs test (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm) and got an INFJ score. I love personality tests… such interesting revelations about yourself often result. Perhaps I’ll write more on this later.


One comment

  1. […] much as I want to be someone who is engaged in the culture (just see this silly pre-Spain blog post from ages ago), it’s a simple fact that I’m going to bring American-isms with me, and […]

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