Julie Ann Blog #7
“Travel is transformational—if the trip shook your ideas up, if the experience changed you, then the journey was a success,” (O’Reilly, 1999).
I wrote this quote down in my journal on the first day that we arrived in Thailand. I wrote about how I want to keep this quote in mind throughout my travels that lay ahead of me. I can say that even the meaning of this quote and how I feel while reading it is different then when reading it for the first time, before traveling to Thailand.
My travels in Thailand have truly been transformational. I especially feel this now that I am back in the United States experiencing the culture here, my daily routine, and reflecting on all that I embarked on in Thailand. Learning about Buddhism and the lifestyle that reflects the Buddhist values and philosophies has transformed my perspective and mentality of my life at home. As I mentioned in previous blogs, Buddhism emphasizes the importance of living in the present, purifying the mind, appreciation, and focusing on the good rather than worrying and suffering. I am graduating at the end of the semester, and I have experienced pressure about where I want to go for graduate school, what I want to do with the rest of my life, what is my “5- year plan,” est. Prior to Thailand, I was feeling a lot of stress when thinking of my answers to these questions. Stepping away from my life at home and spending time experiencing a different type of lifestyle has allowed me to come back home and reevaluate my own mentality on my future. I am able to recognize the beauty of not having a set plan or a “5 year plan.” I had a great conversation with Acharn Cathy during the Mae Kam Pong Homestay about not rushing to the next step in life because it takes away from valuing the present and seeing where life will take you.
While I definitely have more room to develop, I think I have moved from the ethnocentric stages to the ethnorelative stages. Before this trip, I was stuck in the “defense stage.” I found myself polarizing cultural groups of people and thinking that other cultural groups do some things better than my cultural group and my cultural group does some things better than other cultural groups. I now find myself more in the “acceptance stage” and moving into the “adaptation stage.” I am developing cultural sensitivity and appreciation for cultural differences. My worldviews have expanded, and I am able to adapt my own behaviors to the cultural context or environment I am immersed in. I look forward to taking the knowledge and experiences I have gained from this trip to enrich my future global, cultural endeavors.