Types of Travels
I spent much of my childhood traveling. I was comfortable in the air before I ever thought flying could be scary. Whether I was pulled out of school for a few weeks or just whisked out of town for an impromptu long weekend, I never thought much of traveling. Upon listening to him talk of travels, I was blown away by the outlook a friend of mine shared with me on life and being able to go see different places. He told me how absolutely engrossing discovering how other people live can be—saying, without the slightest amount of pretense, that he would rather sleep on the beach and talk to locals than stay in some ritzy hotel and not truly experience real life as do the indigenous people. I found it really interesting that he was so willing to tear through the façade erected by the tourism industry to see what, as Goffman would have called it, the back-stage really looked like in these cultures. I was thoroughly impressed when, on a service trip together, I noticed him really trying to talk with some villagers even though they knew no English and he knew nothing of their language. I was honestly very surprised to realize that my lingual abilities were trumped by this boy’s genuine desire to communicate. Traveling with my parents was basically the opposite. My “travels” up to that point had only been to touristy areas, staying in touristy hotels, and doing touristy things. I’ve been on more double decker city tour busses than I care to acknowledge. Most recently, when my parents dropped me in Spain, we spent our days on organized tours, not really learning much. We ate familiar foods, frequenting American chains like Burger King. My family wanted “to see” Madrid, but I feel that they were more than willing to accept Madrid’s front-stage, without even the slightest desire to see what was behind the curtain, But the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me—though I hadn’t considered it before maybe I, too, could see the world the way he did—and learn a hell of a lot while I was at it. I think, in large part, that was the driving impetus behind this study abroad adventure. Living here for a whole semester I would put myself in a situation where I constantly had to communicate with the locals. My Spanish may not be the greatest, but I think I’m finding ways to communicate with the Madrilenos I come in contact with!