The Joys of International Travel

By Daniel Barney

           Welcome, people, to the planet, Earth! The planet where humanity exists. It’s also a planet with many, many places. When there are many places, that mean there are many things to explore in those areas. Some of us want to free ourselves from our comfort zones and explore the world, while others show lack of care about the world. Not many people get the chance to see what’s outside of their own home countries. We all know that many of us, Americans, do not get the chance to venture ourselves and understand the importance of culture, due to some things we have to take care of, personally, professionally, and domestically. That reason is understandable and I’m one of the many who believes this statement. The only sources that give us culture are from books, television, and movies. Well, most of the time, we get culture from the media. The media is such a glorious thing for the mind, isn’t it? It will show us perspectives about the Africans, the Americans, the French, the Irish, the Germans, the Chinese, so on and so forth, thus giving our minds to receive negative stereotypes about these nationalities, or ethnicities. We don’t know if the media is telling the whole story or they’re just trying to make all of us look bad towards each other. It’s funny that people think they know about other people’s culture from what they hear or see, but they have never been in anyone else’s different soil, besides their own. How would we ever get a real perspective on what the world is like? How are we ever going to open our minds and “fly away” from home? “I want to get away, I wanna fly away”, as the great Lenny Kravitz would say in his song. Well, you know what? I’m going to give you some reasons why we all should fly away and travel. After this speech, I hope and pray that the audacity to travel will enlighten you, just as it has enlightened me.

 

           Learning different cultural experiences is one of the reasons why we should appreciate travel. Have you ever seen a group of people who carry traditions that are unique from what you do in everyday life? Sure, the world is a bizarre place, filled with bizarre people, but we may not understand why people with different cultural backgrounds keep their own experiences to themselves. For example, we, Americans, can wave our hands to say hello or goodbye to each other, but if we go to Italy and push that same shtick towards the natives,they will be offended. Once they get offended, they’ll probably flip the bird towards us. We all know what the phrase, flip the bird, mean. The reason why I brought up this example to you all is because we might not comprehend their way of life. Some things we do here in America probably won’t sit well with other nationalities. Each nationality has a way
of life. When you go to Italy, either for a vacation or wedding, you will automatically immerse yourself with the Italian culture. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll probably be approached by some natives, who can speak your language, to tell you what to do and what not to do in their country. Think of it as each country has a code of its own. If you play by their rules, whether if it sounds clumsy or illogical to you, then you’ll be accepted. If you don’t….well, tough break, Jake! There is a movie called, Gran Torino, with Clint Eastwood, as the leading actor. His character, whom was portrayed as this racist, grumpy neighbor to a Vietnamese family, laid his hand on top of a little girl. When the Vietnamese family relatives saw this, they went silent and gave him a death stare. Sure, this scene was darkly comedic, but it showed the viewer the dramatization of culture clash. When you travel, you MUST learn the culture. This is what makes traveling to be fun and engaging. Not many people will follow that golden rule. Hopefully, you, people who I’m talking to, right now, won’t go down that road with them.

           “People whose familial heritage stems from abroad will often choose to explore their ethnicity and ancestry.” This quote leads us to another reason why we need to travel: HERITAGE! We all need to know where we came from so that we will have better respect of ourselves. It’s fine when you go to places like Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, etc., and surround yourself with heritage, but nothing beats the original native countries. Each nationality in America has its own contributions brought into American culture. If you want to go deeper into the rabbit hole, you must do extensive research about the community who you represent. Go to England and you’ll see how much information that they have kept, relating to their heritage. Go to Africa, the motherland, and you’ll understand the African legacy. Go here and go there, and you’ll have a realistic perspective about any heritage you stumble across. In America, we get snippets of different culture from the old countries but enough for us to stand tall and say that I’m proud to be this or that. For example, go to Ireland, and you’ll learn the whole history of ups and downs, in a chronological way. Again, the locals can give brief histories of their own heritage, since you paid your way to get into their country. Like I said, nothing beats the real thing! When you learn about your heritage or someone else’s, you’ll know things that you never knew existed in the textbooks. If you happen to receive the opportunity to go to a foreign country, whether if it’s medieval or exotic, I strongly encourage you to take pride in that and learn as much about that country, as well as the people surrounding it. Heritage is the key to identifying ourselves and where we stand, in today’s society.

           While you’re traveling to different countries, please try your best to learn the language. I’m not telling you to choke it all down to a tee, because you might suffocate and pass out. I’m just telling you to learn some words and phrases in a different language. If you can just say “Domo arigato” to the Japanese, then at least the Japanese will know that you’re showing respect to their culture. Nothing makes us happier than to feel comfortable under someone else’s skin. “There is no better and more effective way to learn a language than to be immersed in a culture that speaks the language you are learning.” When you attempt to speak a different language, try not to feel embarrassed. Practice always makes perfect! You may either sound silly or sound sexy! The only thing that matters, when it comes to speaking bilingual, is respect. It’s just like the ending of the movie, Rush Hour, when Detective James Carter spoke a little bit of Chinese to the flight attendant, which made an impression on Inspector Lee, who originated from Hong Kong, China. What a beautiful scene, it was! All levity aside, try your best to learn different language. If you’re lazy, just try to say hello, good evening, good morning, or good night, in a different language. When you go to a nightclub or a tavern full of foreigners, speaking all sorts of language, they all sound like musical instruments in an orchestra. This is the time, for you, to expand your knowledge in different dialects!

           People, it is time for you to get out of your comfort zones, stand up tall, and do something adventurous in your life! You don’t need a hip-hop band, like Outkast, to tell you to “get up, get out, and do something.” Life is too short! You don’t want to be watching television and letting Rick Steves to have all the fun, do you? We all should have that personality to get lost and see something new and exhilarating. Put away some money on the side for that dream vacation. The world is so vast, people, that there are many hidden treasures to see with your own eyes! I promise you, folks, that if you start traveling in your own terms, then your world view will be undeniably expansive. This is OUR time to broaden horizons of our own! This is OUR time to take everyday life to a whole new level! This is OUR time to turn on our brains and gain knowledge to expand our consciousness! Grab life by the wings and let it take you to places where your dreams come true! Thank you and God Bless!

Works Cited:
Kravitz, L. (1998). Fly Away. On the album, 5 {CD}. Virgin Records America.
Producer: Eastwood, C., & Director: Eastwood, C. (2008). Gran Torino. Warner Bros. Pictures, U.S.A.
10 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad in College – Benefits & Challenges. Bohrer, I.E. 2015. Moneycrashers.com.
10 Reasons Why You Should Study In a Foreign Country. Vistawide.com, 2004.
Producer: Birnbaum, R., & Director: Ratner, B. 1998. Rush Hour. New Line Cinema, U.S.A.
Outkast. (1994). Git Up, Git Out. On the album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik [CD]. Label: RCA Records, LaFace Records, Arista Records.