Today's post inspiration comes from Hannah's post on traveling.
It seems like...
- whenever I hear about someone's big life goals, they inevitably include world travel.
- whenever somebody quits their job to "follow their dreams," they decide to travel the world.
- whenever people discuss what they would do with unlimited time and money, it involves traveling the world.
Maybe it would be different if I hadn't already had the privilege of making multiple trips outside the United States. I've traveled to Germany, Austria, and France on school trips, and to Japan, England, and Ireland with my family. And I've concluded that, yeah, I like being at home.
Certainly, Mike and I have visited many other states together (let's see if I can count them... 15), but with the exception of our honeymoon, they've been to visit family and friends. (And the best part of our honeymoon cruise, for me, was not seeing Alaska as much as it was the hours we spent drinking tea and doing crossword puzzles together. For real. I'm a nerd.) When I think about traveling somewhere, it's always to see people, not to "see the sights." If all of our friends and family lived around us, I'd be super happy.
(Actually, one correction: Mike and I went on a service trip together in college to inner-city Trenton, New Jersey. That wasn't for the purpose of "seeing the sights," either, I can assure you.)
Many of my trips outside the U.S. involved tours of various sorts, and most definitely, I love learning new things. However, I've decided that I love learning things from home equally as much as learning things while standing in the place about which I'm learning. And going to museums is cool, but I would almost always take an interactive museum like Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry over an art or history museum, regardless of where it is or how famous it might be.
One experience I had while my school trip in Paris really hit this home for me. We had just gone through a small museum that primarily contained paintings and other art. We were standing around, waiting to be herded off to whatever was next on our itinerary, when I saw a man and woman come out of the museum. The woman was clearly blind -- she had a stick and dark glasses and was being carefully guided by the man. And I wondered: What is the purpose of coming to an art museum if you are blind? Is it just for the experience of having physically been there?
I think, for some people, that is important; not so much for me. A few months later I was working Summer Staff for Group Workcamps and my crew took one of our free days to go to the Four Corners, which is the only place in the U.S. that you can be in four states at once: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Normally they charge admission, but we came right before they closed and they let us in for free. The whole thing seemed so weird to me. Paying so that you can lay down in a man-made circle that indicates intersection of some man-made borders? Just to say that you've been there?
Maybe my confusion just stems from my lack of desire to do things to impress other people.
Anyway, obviously that's not the only reason people travel. That's just the reason I don't understand.
If there's one thing I have enjoyed about traveling, it's the food. Some of the best things I've ever eaten were sushi in Tokyo, escargot in Paris, and some sort of noodle and dumpling dish somewhere in Austria. Mmmmmmm delicious. But I can't really justify flying 19 hours and paying who-knows-how-much money to eat sushi that is slightly more delicious than the sushi I can get here.
I also really liked seeing how things are done in other countries, particularly in Japan, where everything they do, from the streets to the subways, seems so much more logical than the the way things are done in America. But I probably could have learned all of that from reading about other people's experiences, if I'd had the motivation to do so. And, as with learning about healthcare in Europe, all it really accomplishes is making me annoyed that things aren't like that here.
I would say that, in general, I've enjoyed my travels to other countries, but they haven't left me wanting more. If I never left the U.S. again for the rest of my life, I'd be perfectly OK with that.
Come to think of it, that's probably why I'm not really drawn to international adoption...
How about you? Have you traveled outside your home country? Do you want to?