The Initiations

            There are many initiations / rites of passages associated with being in a foreign country on a study abroad trip. Some of these initiations may not be apparent to the student until after they have taken place. There are exchange programs available in almost every country in the world. In these programs there are certain objectives or purposes for having the programs in a particular place. Students who participate in these programs gain new perspectives on world affairs, career enhancement, as well as unmistakable personal growth. A couple of students that have participated in exchange programs have provided some insight that helps explain these initiations.

             There are many countries in the world that have very different cultures and ways of life. Most Americans have no idea how life goes on in different places. Some don't know about life in a different state, much less another country. Foreign exchange students enter a different country and are usually surprised by the things they see. It might take a while to adjust to the new style of living that the exchange student will experience during the time that he/ she is abroad. This adjustment could definitely be described as a rite of passage. The American way of life represents the symbolic death, and the rebirth is the acceptance of a new and different way of life. Learning to absorb the culture rather than looking strangely upon it is something that may be difficult to do for quite some time. Once an eye-opening initiation has taken place a person will most likely view things in the world differently for the rest of his/ her life.

             If a different language is spoken in the country that a student studies in, communicating efficiently can be a problem. A rite of passage takes place when the student gains the ability to speak and understand the language fluently. Even if the student speaks a bit of the language, it can be very difficult to understand when natives to the foreign country speak it because of their slang or accents.

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