So as I was heading home from school today I overheard this guy on the train talk about his summer travelling around Europe. By the sounds of it he managed to visit 4 countries in 2 weeks. What really stood out to me was that he visited 3 countries I had the opportunity to visit during my time abroad earlier this year (Netherlands, Spain, and Croatia). I felt so much pride that I even interrupted him and told him that I actually lived in the Netherlands–of course after he bragged about how much weed he smoked while he was in Amsterdam. Of course, only visit Amsterdam to smoke pot, nothing else. Because who cares about what else the country has to offer, right? Anywho. Then he brought up Croatia. Well if you know me, my husband is from there and I’ve already visited the country twice, and it’s absolutely stunning.
I’m not afraid to tell people that I too have visited those places, because deep down, I’m so proud to have had those opportunities to travel and also live abroad. I’m proud my husband comes from Croatia, and that we are able to share our cultures in everything we do together, especially when it comes to food. Now that I’ve lived in the Netherlands I can tell people, hey, there is more than just pot, Amsterdam, and Heineken beer. There’s people that actually live there and they are the friendliest human beings I have ever met in my life! The Dutch speak perfect English, they make incredible cheese, they have the best public transportation system I have ever experienced in my life, AND they have the biggest flea market in Europe! Not to mention the history–which I have in fact touched on in previous posts.
There is so much in this world than just what we hear about from others, or how we place stigmas on things. Sure you can visit all of those capital cities, but what is that really telling you about the countries culture? That they have a great tourism industry or that they can come up with creative solutions to everyday problems?
Next time you have the opportunity to travel, think outside the box. Do your research and find out which places are the most interesting, not the most touristy. Or if you just want to travel to those cities, great, have at ‘er. Nobody’s stopping you. Sure you can party and have the time of your life drinking away at a sketchy looking hostel (which in fact you can meet incredible people at), but when you come home, what do you want to tell family and friends about your experience? That you observed and integrated with a new culture that opened your eyes to new world experiences, or that you partied with some odd 20-somethings and only remember the days you were hungover?
Give it some thought. Obviously you don’t have to agree with what I’m saying, but I’m encouraging you to make that travel experience worth it and learn from it. Even if it makes you broke–which it has for me. Live through the local perspective and take something home you can share with others because not everyone gets to go abroad.
Stand out from the rest. Don’t worry about others think. Do what makes you happy. – Steph