Monday, May 6, 2013

Not the Who, What, Where, or When

I like to think myself an experienced travel.  Though I have only traveled internationally to about three other countries, I have flown probably more times than I can remember.  Each of those times with my family, usually because my parents needed to do some kind of site visit for one of their annual incentive trips, or because they earned a trip for setting yet another record with the company they work with.  But this time it's a little different: no training wheels, no family, no (annoying but lovable) little brothers.  Just me, and my German classmates.  I get to go out there and take another step in becoming an adult!  It's time for me to spread my wings and "FLY" (Wow, that was a terrible pun)!

But before the trip commences, Janet asked us to read a small excerpt from "The Art of Travel" which may hopefully inspire us and give us an idea for something to write in our pre-Deutschland post.  What stuck out to me the most was the following:

"If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest. . .than our travels. . .Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems. . .We are inundated with advice on where to travel, but we hear little of why"

The first part made sense to me; when you travel you see other parts of the world and how they live.  Some of their traditions, some of their cuisine, hear their language, and a variety of other things.  You see what makes those natives happy, and that in itself can be quite an interesting experience.  But de Botton is right, travels don't normally create a philosophical problem.

As I said, my travels were mainly with my parents, and these trips have mainly been for leisure (and a little work for my parents).  We would, for the most part, stay on the hotel grounds and soak up the sun and swim in the pool.  This trip is entirely different.  I am traveling to Berlin to explore the city and German culture within the context of the country and German language itself.  This will be the first time I travel to a country where I can, for the most part, express myself in the native tongue.  That in itself is an incredible, albeit slightly nerve racking, experience!

Who knows what I will see and experience while in Berlin.  Perhaps this trip will help me discover who I am and who I will become.  I can barely even guess as to how this adventure will influence my "human flourishing" as de Botton mentions.  But no matter what, I will embrace all of these events with open arms and joy, no matter how "foreign" (another pun, really?) they may feel to me.  I mean, that's the "Why" at the heart of any "studying abroad experience" and other travels; learning and growing in a global community!

Regardless of how this trip impacts my life, I know I am going to have a great time, filled with fun people, great memories, and incredible experiences.  So Deutschland, bis bald!  And to my deutsche Leute, bis morgen! Ich sehe euch in Detroit!