There’s no place like home- travel teaching you more about the place you know best

vegesHi again Globetrotters and I hope you all in the Northern hemisphere are enjoying the great thaw as we bring out our long Johns down South. Well it may have occurred to many of you as it occurred to your GTG that you might speak the same language, eat some of the same food, listen to the same pop and classical music, have identical jobs, drive identical cars and all pay your bills with Visa or MasterCard but chances are there will be something you notice when travelling internationally that isn’t quite the same as where you come from. This week I plan to counter the kind of patriotism that rambles on for hours about the virtues of a particular place with no knowledge of what might be the same around the world.

The examples below are all statements that could be equally true about any number of places (and of course have been heard said by globetrotters all over the world);

  • “The people are so friendly”
  • “The food was amazing”
  • “They had such beautiful beaches”
  • “There was so much culture and history there”
  • “We stayed in a small village with the locals”
  • “It was as if we were the only foreigners around”
  • “The landscape was incredible”
  • “It was so easy to get around”

and so on. The next list is a bunch of expressions I have heard people use to distinguish what they love about their own countries that your GTG believes could also be said about many different countries;

  • “People are just nice here”
  • “The weather here is perfect”
  • “The life is the best”
  • “we don’t discriminate against different groups of people”
  • “We have one of the oldest cultures in the world”
  • “We make the best wine”

I think you all get the point. The confusion of discourse here is that people are expressing an emotion or a sentiment rather than describing an actual difference. The most educational exercise in this case is to focus specifically on what is different. This last list of statements could be examples of how this might sound;

  • We have a great political system that’s fair because voting is compulsory’voluntary (whichever you believe and is applicable)
  • We have a lovely collection of historical pagan sites
  • We pride ourselves on our indigenous culture(s)
  • Our people have shown great resilience after such recent civil conflict
  • Spirituality is a part of our daily lives
  • We are world leaders in technological innovation
  • We were one of the earliest countries to ban smoking in restaurants and I’m an asthmatic
  • Our rail system is really efficient

In the case at hand, travel becomes a means through which to see for yourself how things change. Coming back to Australia from Western Europe and Japan I found the busses and trains respectively to be slow and tardy. On the other hand, there was a noticeable difference in how quickly I was able to save money back in Australia where the cost of living is higher but the hourly wage is significantly more. Culturally I could say I thoroughly enjoy the insight of living in cultures with a much longer-reaching historical tradition but I feel most at home long term in ‘new world’ cultures and the freedom they offer from the restrictions of tradition. On that note I will bid you a short farewell, I have just begun travelling in South America so I will continue to show your GTG and yourselves some love whenever possile. Untill then. Nos vamos!!!!