The highlight of every blog is getting to know the person behind the words. Two people could go to the same party, drink the same cocktail, meet the same people, and yet have a totally different experience. So much of what frames our perceptions lay within our past, experiences, current situation.
As I am on my second foray into a grad degree in communications – first, org comm and now interactive media – I consider myself a social scientist. I enjoy nothing more than observing human interaction – especially in an environment different than my own – and hypothesizing about the reason why certain things happen. It is simply so fascinating to me, partly because it’s impossible to find out everyone’s back story.
So, to save you a little bit of uncertainty about me and why I view things a particular way – a little Uncertainty Reduction Theory – I’ll lay some of it out there and give you a bit of my frame.
Recently, I read an article by a woman who was a foreign exchange student who recently stayed with a French family; her article was about how the French lived differently and what it was about that differently that made their lives so much richer than many Americans’s lives. If you’re interested in why, here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/07/travel/five-paris-lessons/index.html?iref=allsearch.
What struck me about this was how we, as Americans, introduce ourselves and otherwise learn more about others. Instead of learning about a person’s character and interests, we start with soliciting the information about his/her CV and then making assumptions and judgments based on that. So, because of this, I’ll attempt to introduce myself without giving you a list of specs.
I consider myself well-versed in the rhythms of travel, although I don’t have any interest in telling you how to get upgrades, or how to stay calm when the child behind you has kicked your seat for the past eight hours and sleep is never going to happen, how to negotiate the best deal in a souk in Morocco. I’m less interested in the mechanics and more in how it feels to be immersed within somewhere. My travel style is not to go on a trip and see all of the sights – although I have done that, especially when traveling with my husband – but more to settle in one place and live like a local. This explains why I’ve been to Madrid five times for over six weeks combined and never set foot inside the Prado.
Work has me on the road a lot, but my greatest experiences are when I’m in a new city and I’m forced to move around, learn the customs and get by when the language isn’t understandable to me. I enjoy traveling for business, but I regret that it gives me only limited time in a place. Often, I’ll return to that place for a future trip. This has been the case with Frankfurt, Punta Cana (DR), Madrid and Barcelona, and Miami.
My first flight was at 22, which was 11 years ago. I got my first passport at 24, just before my wedding in 2003. I’m now on my second passport, not because I had too many stamps, but because my dog ate my original and I had to send the chewed-up version back to the State Department for a new one. :-/
This blog is going to share with you my experience as a participant in a travel writing course, hosted by Brown University, in July 2011. I haven’t written this story yet – I did begin, but life got in the way and I never got beyond the flight to Spain. For this blog, I’ll still start at the beginning, trying to give you a more sensory experience. I’ll stretch my technical skills to learn a bit more about Web production and also share some photos to make it a richer story to tell.
The stories I’m about to share are from my notes and my memory. I’m going to try to write less about the chronological experience, and more about sharing various scenes from the trip. There were days that were unremarkable, and others that were filled with experiences that are too many to put into one day.
And once I finish chronicling this trip, I’ll share stories from some others.
While I hope you’ll be entertained by what I write, I also hope that you’ll gain insights about the culture that I experienced and perhaps a wanderlust to explore the world for yourself.