Tourism vs. Adventure

Recently, one of our DUSA Bloggers had a quote that really resonated with me. She wrote, “After living here for 5 months, I don’t really see how people can travel places for only two, three weeks at a time. I don’t see how I’ll be able to do it in the future. There’s no time to build a routine, find the fastest way home because you’ve literally walked every possible route, find your ice cream shop where they start only charging you 75 cents instead of the very steep 80 ‘because you’re so sweet.’ Where is the living?”

I found myself in a very similar situation this past break. For the first time since coming home from study abroad, I found myself outside the United States. I was traveling in Israel on a tour bus with 40 young adults aged 21-26 for 10 days. The trip illuminated some fascinating distinctions for me, and I’ll describe those now.

Max Blog Post
Hiking through the Negev

 

What struck me first were the difficulties in traveling en mass. My entire life, I had never travelled outside of Colorado with more than 10 people. The words “all”, “inclusive”, and “resort” put together sounded like nails on a chalkboard to my family. Going off the beaten path was something we strived to do, so much so that my mother once had a trip agenda to “walk into open courtyards.” That sounded eerily like trespassing to me at the time, but thankfully went off without a hitch and I saw some pretty neat courtyards.

While studying abroad, my desire to explore on foot and without an agenda had a profound impact on my experience. I learned the intricacies of Salamanca, Spain, my host-city, by running aimlessly: a right turn here, a left turn there, until I wandered my way home. Walking in a lemming-like train of 40 people allowed no room for creativity and encouraged a sheltered view of the cities we visited.

What struck me further, however, was my craving for depth. My wanderings in Salamanca led me to my favorite coffee shop, where my friend Ian and I would go to chat and get advice from Beatriz, the shop’s owner. The get-on-the-bus, get-off-the-bus mentality robbed me of my opportunity to find hidden gems, like Beatriz’s coffee shop.

The Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem

This, I feel is the difference between traveling and living. Traveling is like eating the icing off the top of the cake: it’s briefly tasty, a little too sweet, and doesn’t fully satisfy you. The meat, or cake in this analogy, of the experience is finding the richness and density only living in a place will give you.

More importantly, however, I think the trip taught me the difference between tourism and adventure. To me, tourism is scripted. There are assigned places for you to be at certain times. More than just being scripted, it is an experience catered to you through another person’s eyes. Adventuring, on the other hand, is taking traveling into your own hands, exploring at your own pace, and looking at a new place through your own lens. Going on an adventure is an intense, individual experience.

So, in short, here’s what I would recommend. Try to live while you’re studying abroad, and if you don’t have the time to live, adventure. Always be an adventurer.

-Max Spiro, Study Abroad Assistant

6 Things I Learned to Love in Spain

President Obama with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
President Obama with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  1. Two Kisses: a Spanish greeting includes two kisses beginning on the left side then the right. However, these are not real kisses. You either lightly touch each other’s cheeks together or kiss the air (no lips touching cheeks action).
  2. Small Bubbles: space in general is limited in Europe so it makes sense personal space is not as big as it is in the U.S. This was awfully awkward at first but then I found it very efficient; there is a lot less yelling.
  3. Walking: in Spain walking somewhere mean actually going walking speed, not that shuffle awkward thing that Americans do because they are in a hurry. I learned to take the time to greet people, enjoy the weather and take a few minutes to myself.
  4.  Late, Always Late: the concept of time is very different around the world. I had to get used to the fact that my professor or friends may be late and they wouldn’t even apologize for it. This was probably because they were walking slowly (see number 4) or because time is respected differently in Spain.
  5. Manzanilla Tea: chamomile tea is just as common as coffee in Salamanca. This was wonderful for me because people in the U.S.  look at me funny when I say I hate coffee. In Spain, I was able to participate in the cultural norms without having to drink any coffee.
  6. No Tipping: camareros are paid better than they are in the U.S. so nobody needs to tip. You are welcome to give a small tip if you are super impressed, and small only means a couple euros.
Coffee OR Tea
Coffee OR Tea

Going to another country and learning the nitty-gritty details about the culture can be exciting and fun but it can also be very difficult right around the time homesickness hits. The important thing to remember is that these things don’t have to be better or worse than home, they can just be different. As soon as we stop comparing our experiences abroad to home we can enjoy them a lot more. Although all of these things seemed odd at first, now they are what I miss most about Spain.

Adrianna Romero, Peer Advisor