May 18, 2006

why travel?

Note: This entry was originally posted to an old blog of mine called Go Out and See the World. It can be seen in its original here, including all comments, which were not imported. The entries are separate from Sunny Day Happy Face, but were imported for posterity! Enjoy!

Today I was thinking, "Why travel?" Some people choose to stay in one place their entire lives and have no interest in venturing outside of their bubble. Some people spend every possible moment away from home. So, why do this? For me, there are many reasons.

I find it impossible not to care about the world and the different places, sights and people that exist within it. My huge desire is to find out how other people live. This partially explains why, when I go away, I don't spend my time in museums, because I rather walk, shop, talk and eat, things I do on a regular basis at home and not as a tourist, to try to experience real life wherever I am. I want to know how people dress, where they go, what conversations they have, what jobs they have, why they live there -- there are so many things to want to know about someone who lives in a different city, country and continent than I do.

Second, I do want to see the sights to find out why tourists flock to these locations, what makes it important and to see it with my own eyes. I don't think it's possible to ever be satisfied by seeing a picture of say, the great pyramids, and not want to see them for real.

As I get older, becoming aware of the United States, politically and otherwise, has led to my wanting to travel, too. I wonder, there are so many people living in other countries who don't choose to be in America, so why should I? Most of the time, I don't see the benefits of this country and a reason to travel is to find out whether or not I would like to stay here as an adult.
Also, there is a certain comfortable feeling I get when I'm in the U.S. I understand the little things everywhere I go: What street and highway sign mean, how to act at a restaurant... Plus, everyone speaks English. But everything from the clothes to the attitude to the air is different all over the world, or, within my scope, in Europe.

Mostly, there is nothing like exploration. The language barrier alone gives me a rush. It's a constant challenge. And, not knowing a city makes it more difficult to navigate. Every corner is new; every face is unfamiliar. There is no feeling like not knowing your way, but finding fun and knowledge everywhere.

I am not the intellectual type. I will never be content reading books and looking at pictures of these cities and countries or learning about their histories. I learn by doing, so traveling is the ultimate experience. Travel is my addiction. I never knew that when I casually signed up to tour Europe last summer that my life would change so profoundly: That I would never be able to spend a school break at home again, that I would spend nights researching places I want to visit, that I can imagine leaving home for months or years at a time, or forever. But now that I have seen the light of travel, I will always desire to be on the move.

So, as another summer flies by, I will again be six hours ahead of New York time in Europe, the continent that I am determined to conquer (as far as visiting goes). This summer is the first time I will be traveling completely alone, which gives me the most extreme form of independence, and also the first that I will be studying during travel, too (though I hope to do as little of that as possible).

This is my travelog. I will update it as often as I can from internet cafes in the cities I visit. My sorry attempts at keeping a written journal in the past lead to nothing memorable for myself. So, I created this blog in hopes that not only will my friends and family be able to keep up with me as I move around, but maybe that other people can learn about or be inspired by where I go, as well.

So, check back often and follow me as I travel (mostly) in Italy (and the Czech Republic). Feel free to post comments to my entries, I would love to hear from friends, family and other visitors while I'm away (and sometimes it's easier than e-mail). Thanks for stopping by.

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