I am not one for traveling. Well, let me rephrase that.
I am not one for change.
I enjoy the comforts of home. Whether it is waking up with the assurance that there is a decent cup of coffee waiting for me, or the knowledge that my parents, brother or sister are just a phone call away. These things among others give me ample reasons to feel safe and out of harms way. Because of my love for being within the norms of my everyday life, this coming trip to South East Asia has me feeling a bit of anxiety.
I was not anticipating my pre-trip classes to prepare me mentally as much as they already have, seeing as we have only been in class for a little under a week. However, they are getting me excited about learning in a new place, with new and interesting people. I am anticipating that my cultural anthropology course will prepare me the most for dealing with the concept of culture shock as I prepare for this coming trip, and that gives my mind ease when reflecting on this new endeavor of traveling thousands of miles away from everything I seemingly know.
Other than the obvious anxiety of traveling to a destination away from the common comforts I have become accustomed to, there is one other thing I am nervous about.
St. Stephen’s University does a wonderfully excellent job of preparing their students to embrace other’s worldviews, and doing that is a part of the curriculum for our travels abroad. One thing I worry about is that a person, any person, can cater too much to other’s concepts or ways of life, and in doing so lose the ability to embrace their own.
One example of this has to do with the theoretical South East Asian perception of what it is to be a Christian. I come from the opinion that done under the right circumstances (not for the sake of mutilating one’s body in a morose way), body piercing and tattoo’s are not a problem in the eyes of God. This is important to me for the fact that I have two tattoos and a facial piercing, all of which in my opinion are tasteful and not overwhelming.
I am in no way opposed to upholding the social code of covering up or taking out such things while studying in Asia, if there even exists such a code. I do wonder though if doing so will only add fuel to the fire of, in my opinion, poor theology and untrue cultural exchange?
Despite my probably common worries about this coming trip, I am more than excited. Classes have started, soon to end, and the next thing you know I will be flying high until my peers and I reach our first destination. My greatest hope is that God will teach me to let go of my fears and fall freely into His hands of trust for this trip.