Studying Abroad - The Feeling of bahok

Mar 02, 2010

"In a moment of crisis, everybody must come together no matter what the language and culture." - Akram Khan

Speaking from my own study abroad experiences, it's thrilling to have the opportunity to go to an event that appeases and entertains lingering reverse culture shock. Akram Khan, a British choreographer, loads on the diversity with dancers from China, Spain, Slovakia, India, South Korea, Taiwan and South Africa. The piece, bahok, is all about creating a universal concept of home based on the cultural memories of the world-spanning dancers. If you've been abroad at all, you can appreciate the subtle nuances and identities of every country that, brought together, defines an idea applicable to the world as a whole in its human simplicity. 

Inspired by communication in airports, bahok will appeal to study abroad students who appreciate the fragility of the travelers' states of mind. They are trying to say something to each other in a new way, attempting to relay a sense of their home to each other. When I got to Fiumicino airport in Rome, the school staff rushed us onto a bus to take us to Perugia. All the students looked slightly harried from an eight hour flight on edgy nerves and excitement, and we all sat quietly during the bus ride to Perugia. But at dinner that night, after a shower, a cat nap, and some delicious Italian gnocchi, we were ready to chiacchierare, to chat. The dining hall was roaring with conversations between students from all over, trying to find a common thread to connect with. The dancers carry their homes with them, just as a student abroad carries about their notions of home and their physical comforts in their suitcases and memories. Through words and the weeks together, you begin to see what each other are all about. In bahok, this is done through the language of movement.

Another battle during study abroad is homesickness. However, I found in my experience, the longer you stay, the more you re-define your sense of home, taking a little of this culture and little of that culture, and putting down your own unique welcome sign at your stoop. When I left Italy, I was just getting to the point where I didn't want to leave.  I was there just long enough to want to include it in my new definition of home. I have a feeling bahok will be the same way.


-Melissa Wray
Marketing Intern & U of M Senior
Studied abroad in Perugia, Italy 



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