A Travellerspoint blog

March 2015

Reflections on Global Connections

My running thoughts living as "the exotic" in a country I find exotic

This post is a bit different than my previous ones as it provides an update on my thoughts rather than my experiences.

I have been in England for almost two months now and have had countless cross-cultural experiences in this time. It has given me more than enough information to reflect on about my own culture and what things I naturally see as "the norm". I now feel obligated to share some of these thoughts which are, well not completely developed, finally starting to come to some rudimentary conclusions.

We naturally search around us for things that we identify with, things that make us feel comfortable because they are familiar. While this is natural and a good guard for our well being and comfort, it seems to be the greatest challenge to overcome when encountering new things. We want to shun differences as 'exotic' or 'other', yet this prevents us from learning.

It allows us to continue believing our own beliefs to be THE beliefs and everyone else's beliefs to be the WRONG beliefs.

I have been struggling with meeting people from other countries and thinking of them in terms their accent such as “Asian”, “English”, or “Nigerian”. Well this is a good starting point and perhaps a basis for comparing cultural norms, it fails to recognize the person who is more complicated then their culture.

What I often fail to come to grips with is that, to them, I am “American”: equally exotic, equally other. To them, I am probably licentious, probably drink Starbucks, probably say "Oh my Gosh" too much. From this side of the pond, my accent may be adorable, annoying, or strange; either way it is an accent, it is "other".

One thing that has added a coherency to thinking about differences in cultures and the common human experience is going to church in England. It is amazing that how ever many gallons of water separate my home and where I am, I can still go somewhere to worship the same God. I can find people who ask me about my faith journey and whom I can hear theirs. We can learn from each other and that is glorious.

This is my current conclusion:

A whollistic view of the world means that no one accent, one culture, one viewpoint is neutral. We are all “other” and we are all “normal”. It just depends on what side of the line you are standing on. Encountering new cultures with an open mind is the first step to obtaining this whollistic view.

(I have still not determined whether an entirely wholistic view is possible. I doubt it because try as I might, I am not neutral)

"But as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together."

Leslie Marmon Silko

If anyone has any more thoughts to add to my own, please comment with them or send me a message!
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Posted by Kateogan 05:54 Tagged reflections england cultural journey differences cross-cultural Comments (0)

Rievoulx Abbey and Helmsley Castle

Best class trip ever!

On February 21, I went on a class trip to Rievoulx Abbey and the town of Helmsley. It was for my class called "The Visual Past" where we look at ruins of abbeys and castles in order to see what we can learn from the ruins.

Rievoulx was built in by Walter Espec 1132. It was one of the first Cistercian installations in the North of England and therefore pivitol to spreading the order in England. The Abbey run out of money and slowly the dissolution began. In the end, only a few monks lived there. This is what it looks like today:

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This is the chapel. The area behind me is the holiest place in the Abbey. It would have been blocked off for anyone but monks. (Bit of a superiority complex if you ask me)
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You can still see the fireplaces!
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Behind the wall in the back would have been the toliets. Even Monks had to dispose of waste ;)

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This is the basement of what would have been the dining room. I am standing on what would have been the first level. This would have been my favorite building if I were a monk which is probably why I would make a terrible monk :P . This is also the building that ultimately led to the downfall of the abbey because it cost too much to build and left it bankrupt.
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This is the drainage system for the abbey
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So basically, Rievoulx is absolutely stimulating for the imagination. It is beautiful, but it is also amazing to look at what would have been. Today it may seem like just pleasant scenery, but you can see the remains of a lifestyle from hundreds of years ago.

We had the afternoon in Helmsley and my friend, Makenzie, and I went to the castle. It is also now in ruins but absolutely scenic!

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Here you can see the remnants of where a staircase would have been- that lighter stone zig-zag.
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The moat! This castle was designed to be defended.
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Another defense: the Southern gate with a bridge across the moat.
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This is the view of the tower from the house. It is, apparently, symbolic because you can see the defense tower and below and see the town of Helmsely(well you could if I took a better picture) so it affirms the dominance of the castle.
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Posted by Kateogan 07:36 Archived in England Tagged bridges history beautiful castle monks scenic abbey sunshine rievoulx helmsley Comments (0)

Robin Hood's Bay to Whitby: A Coastal Hike

Call me Charlie Bone because I think I lived in a painting for a day

semi-overcast 48 °F

Saturday , February 28, some friends and I caught a a morning train for ridiculously cheap and ended up in Whitby. From Whitby we caught a bus to Robin Hood's Bay. We wandered around Robin Hood's Bay for a while. I suppose the best way to describe Robin Hood's Bay is to say please just go visit. It is a quaint, romantic village situated between two cliffs. The entire village is on a hill. If anyone has seen Wild Child, the date scene was shot here.

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My favorite feature was the doors. They were all bright colors!
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It took a while to find the trail, but when we did it was worth it. We entered into a pasture of sheep and just pranced around with the sheep for a while singing "The hills are alive!" over and over.
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The rest of the trail was 7 miles of glourious scenery, good laughs and new friends (all of them were animals or inanimate objects). The sheep really wanted nothing to do with us, but we still enjoyed seeing them. The dog's name is Lisa. We asked her owners to take a picture and when we sat down she immediately pranced over and plopped frount and center of our picture.
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There were lots of charming features of the hike including shipwrecks, gates that only allowed one person at a time because of a bar preventing it from opening, bridges, cobblestone paths, and stone enclosure fences. Here's some things we saw:

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When we finally made it back to Whitby, we were greeted by the sight of the abbey, then the town. Whitby is a town full of sailboats, red rooftops, and fish and chips. It is another coastal wonder.
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All in all a beautiful day! It was about 55 degrees out, slightly foggy, and absolutely picturesque. Really shows how beautiful creation can be. Thanks for reading!

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Posted by Kateogan 06:41 Archived in England Tagged cliffs hiking countryside hike whitby robin_hood's_bay wild_child Comments (0)

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