A great way to learn about your country is to leave it.
Last week I asked you to recall your first international trip; the responses I got were wonderful! Clearly many of you had interesting and unexpected wake-up calls about life outside the US. And all the reports were positive! For many of you that trip was the beginning of a love affair with the rest of the world.
One friend initiated her passport with a trip to Spain. She still has the menu from the Ritz in Madrid on her desk. It features a Goya painting which appears in the Prado museum next door to the Ritz.
Another friend recalls two impressions from her first trip to England: “Favorite memory: seeing through a window at the train station, the staggering colors of beautiful Wordsworthian daffodils against the city walls of York.
“Runner up: An evening flight to England mid-March when I was shocked to be served a plastic container of 3 -month old food, dated 12.3 — until a voice came over the loudspeaker: “For the benefit of Americans, your fresh dinner was not packed last December…” and then the explanation of British sequencing of day, month, and year.”
The two most enthusiastic replies came from people I have known since we were all in high school together.
One wrote, “Jane, you bring back memories of my junior year studying in Grenoble, France. When I first arrived in Paris, it was disheartening to learn the French people didn’t know the other half of the conversations I had memorized in French classes. But I learned so much that year–including becoming fluent in French and understanding how to view the U.S. and the world from different perspectives. The experiences of travel truly changed my life!”
The other comment came from a friend who is more widely traveled than I am. “I have always LOVED travel and was very fortunate to spend two months traveling in Europe with my college in 1968. We visited sixteen countries (that’s including the Vatican). Besides it being my first visit to my “Mother Country” England, it was eye opening because nearly half the time we were behind the Iron Curtain. We were in Prague with the Russian soldiers and got out of Czechoslovakia two days before the borders were closed! I’ve returned in later years to several of the former Soviet Republics and love to see the remarkable changes. I have not returned to Dresden YET but shall. It was the most depressing place, still so much damage from WW2. Wake Up and Go… at least get out and see your own state/country.”
All told, the comments are best summarized by the friend with the Ritz menu, who concluded with “Thanks for the memories.” Even if my post is the reason you pulled them out, they are your memories. It is never too late to add more memories to the safe deposit box. Call me if I can help you refresh the supply!
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
7 April 2016