We Need To Get Out More…

Blog entry created by: Meagan

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US vs Everyone else…

How many of you have ever traveled abroad?  Chances are that if you are American you have never been anywhere but stateside, and most likely never will be.  As a matter of fact, only 15-25% (depending on who you ask) of Americans even own a passport!  Comparatively, 60-70% of Australians have passports, while Germans spend the most money on international travel every year, and you can find a large bus of Japanese people just about anywhere (based on personal experience).  Why is this? It’s not that we (as Americans) don’t want to travel- on the contrary the first response I get upon telling anybody about this yearlong-worldwide-trip is one of jealous awe.  So why don’t more of us get out there and go for it?  And what kind of problems could it cause for us in the future?

We're going through a tough time…

Cost is the main turn off for most people.  And that excuse, though overused, is understandable- it is much more expensive to fly to Europe than it is to Florida.  Meanwhile, it’s fairly cheap to take a train from London to Paris, or to drive from Munich to Salzburg (making it easier for Europeans to travel abroad).

Too big for our own good?

You say you aren’t in the mood for Florida? Well, how about skiing in Colorado? No? Well, than how about a trip to the Big Apple?  Or a crazy weekend in Vegas?  Another reason why Americans do not travel abroad as much as other nationalities: we are a big country, with plenty of things to see and do.  As an Australian man that we met in Siem Reap put it: “the American’s have everything they need over there.”  Say you are trying to decide between a weeklong ski trip in the Alps or Colorado.  You get a good ski trip either way, but Colorado is cheaper, you spend less time on a plane (which means more time on the slopes), there is no currency exchange required, and everyone speaks your language!  All the comforts of home for a cheaper price? Colorado here we come!

Studying Abroad and the New Zealand OE

Another reason that Americans don’t travel abroad (as if we needed another excuse): it’s not really part of our culture.  For example, studying abroad is an incredible experience to learn about another culture before you get caught up with life (I want to do a year in Spain, personally) and yet only 1% of American students do it!  Sure, it can be expensive, but so is college, so is a house, a car, and a family…  And yet most of us do/have those things!  On doing research for this post, I came across a New Zealand tradition that really interested me because it is so opposite of our thinking.  In their culture, almost everybody does something that they call an OE (Oversea Experience) when they are about 20.  In short, they go on an international trip (not just over to Australia) for some period of time.  But this isn’t just a 2-week vacation- the OE can go on for years, as the individual works abroad wherever they can and travels where they will. The goal of this trip?  To travel and see the world!  The result?  A population of people who are globally aware, and who have real world experiences that go beyond the spectrum of their own culture.

I know everyone says this, but… that's because it's TRUE!

Now, I know that most people that travel (especially the way we have) say this, and I don’t mean to sing the same tune, but this experience really has changed my life.  Being submersed in different cultures, meeting (and befriending) people from all walks of life, and even just traveling and constantly readjusting to new situations, have all changed the way I see the world and my role in it.  My definitions of “happiness” and “success” have changed, for starters :)

Leave Already!

Learning about other cultures first hand is an incredible experience that I believe everyone should have at some point.  It is a learning experience that you really can’t afford to pass up (like college!).  So get a passport (it’s worth it!), start saving (you can do it!), and get out there! You won’t regret it!

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 | Categories: entertainment, Fun Facts - Cultures and Countries, Germany, How People Travel, New Zealand, Traditions, USA, What travel has taught us

 

5 comments

  • Julie says:

    Great post Meagan! I am an American living in New Zealand and I’ve been following your journey. I meet so many interesting Kiwis that have been on some amazing OEs. I wish young people in the US would do the same but you list all the major reasons why people don’t travel abroad. But maybe with more young people like you getting excited about travel and encouraging others it will change.

  • Meagan says:

    Thanks Julie! It must be amazing living abroad, especially in a country where travel is such a big part of life! I also really hope that American culture changes so that travel is more common- it’s such life-enriching experience!

  • Jarred says:

    Well stated Meg! The world is an amazing place! I certainly wish it was more feasible to visit all the wonders it holds. I am grateful to Doug and Teresa for providing you with such a life altering, eye opening, thought provoking experience! Stepping outside of your comfort zone is usually scary but almost always rewarding. Keep it up!

  • Jarred says:

    (and yes, I am a member of the 15-25%)

  • Aunt Lori says:

    Amazing blog, Meagan. I live vicariously through your experiences so don’t stop blogging now that your return home date is approaching.
    As an American with an expired passport, I am looking forward to my trip to exotic Alabama tomorrow. Opportunity and experience provide us in the US to visit places we wouldn’t normally have on a bucket list. Far flung family members can provide us with travel opportunities we wouldn’t normally relish. I am grateful for the sites to see in my homeland and miss the eye opening opportunites which are considered “common” in foreign countries.
    I want you to blog about Japan! Tell me what you think.
    I miss you and can’t wait to hear more. BBQ at Liberty Park? One block away.
    Life presents all of us with incredible experiences.

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