The First Rule of Travel: Go for it!

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Discovering new places, and new types of places

Bonn, Germany was a beautiful little city, and I only wish I had been able to explore more of it. Unfortunately administrative work had completely caught up with us at that point and we couldn’t waste the perfect internet that the hotel provided. I saw enough of Bonn, though, that I would love to spend some more time there in my life. It is a city with the feel of a town, which would provide me with the opportunities of a city without the overcrowding or smothering feelings that cities usually give me.

The whole time we were there I fantasized about spending some time there during college at an exchange program, and who knows? Maybe I will live there for a while someday. One thing that this trip has done for me is really opened my eyes to how possible travel is. Even something as convenient and universal as hostels was something I knew next to nothing about when I was living in America. Now I can’t see why more people don’t use them- they’re inexpensive, convenient, and can be found almost anywhere. Already I am incorporating them into the trips I would like to take during break at college or later on in life.

A mind freed by travel

Traveling has also shown me how many other people are breaking out of their bubbles by getting out into the world. From the people we meet in hostels to a young man selling hand-painted fans in Rome to pay for his travel, so many of the people we have meet are exploring other countries. And believe it or not, street vendors have lives outside of trying to get my brother to buy laser pointers- I have been completely stunned and fascinated by what we have learned by striking up conversations with them. Outside of the Eiffel Tower we met a man named Barry who was  in South Africa and has now ended up selling discount trinkets in Paris. It is strange to talk to them about the places we are going; it seems like they should feel as displaced as we are sure to when we go to Africa and India, yet they are finding ways to survive. It is also illustrative of how far people can move in their lives, something that I think many people have no concept of because they stay in one  place forever.

But traveling is dangerous! (Expensive! Time consuming! Something I’ll do later on in life!)

Travel can be exhausting, confusing, and aggravating- there are many reasons people list for not doing it. But I think not getting out into the world at least once, for a little bit, is worse for a person than the risks of travel. Travel can be many negative things, but it is also educational, inspirational, life-changing, and healthy. I have found myself challenged by new ideas and introduced to new ways of thought during this trip, and before leaving I had considered myself very open-minded and knowledge-seeking.

So much more than the Travel Channel

One more thing- seeing famous places in real life is almost nothing like seeing them on TV. I can’t count how many times I have seen pictures of the collesium, and on our way to visit it I thought that I wouldn’t be impresses at all. But looking up at it, I was stunned not so much by its size, but by that fact that something so legendary and ancient is still here. It was a similar, though weaker, feeling as when we visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I couldn’t believe that I was walking through the same rooms as Anne actually lived, and seeing the very pictures that she pasted onto her bedroom wall. How this house could be there and still have its wallpaper was incredible to me, no matter how small a fact it was.

Break out of your everyday life. You can do it. There is no limitation that can stop you. Stay in hostels to save money, only go for a week, eat in grocery stores instead of restaurants- it is worth it. See something different from your town and your country and your house and you will be amazed not only by how you can adapt to different ways of life, but the fact that different ways of life really exist at all. It is too easy to think of other cultures as TV shows or news reports or statistics. But they aren’t those things. They are people, just like you, and travel is what allows you to fully realize that.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 | Categories: Germany, How People Travel, looking back - home friends etc, Travel Tips

 

2 comments

  • Jeremy says:

    You have written a very important and insightful e-mail here. My entire life has been shaped by the people I have met and the sights I have seen whilst traveling. I hope that people take it to heart. Thank you for encouraging others!

  • John Keller says:

    Jen, I am glad you are have such a good time and good experience.
    I always like seeing and reacting with the people in each new city and country.
    Will be in Paris next week at the GEC-ICRP 2010 conference.
    Grand Pa


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