Students: You Will Travel Abroad to a Different Culture!

Favorite Streets in Europe – NYTimes.com.

BerlinRudesheimerStrasseGordonWeltersNYTApril2015

Berlin’s Rudesheimer Strasse by Gordon Welters of The New York Times.

The above link to The New York Times is about twelve favorite streets in Europe; the photograph is from Berlin on the Rudesheimer Strasse.  The streets of Europe include England, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and, of course, France.

Traveling to another country — even a different state in the U.S. — broadens a person’s outlook on life as others live it and deepens insight into one’s ability to adapt and to see the limitations and strengths of one’s mother culture.

This is what I have told my students over the forty-seven years of my teaching college and university history and anthropology students:

When you go to another country and you will, you will see different things and be changed.  I do not care if you have to borrow your mother’s credit card and max it out, but go!  Go out of the country as soon as you comfortably can!  And, do not go into another culture and expect them to know YOUR language.  Get a pocket dictionary of Spanish, French, Flemish, Hungarian, Russian, an use it to learn and communicate.  Try to talk their native tongue.  I have never had a bad experience in trying to communicate in a foreign language to order food, shop, ask directions, buy tickets for a train, and get shampoo and conditioner at Galleries Lafayette in Paris.

Travel abroad.  Go even to Mexico, Juarez or Matamoras!  If you immerse yourself in another culture, you will learn strange and wonderful things.  As I said, don’t wait, borrow your mother’s or dad’s credit card, book a flight.

LisbonStreetJoao MarnotoNYT

A street in Lisbon from Marnoto in The New York Times.

A kind of reality check:  Of course, you will have bad experiences, but you will learn to cope with them.  Besides borrowing your family’s credit card (that is what I did when I first traveled to Europe) there are grants and study-abroad programs that finance one’s adventure and education.  You can also work and save money to go.

My admonition, however, to my students was to go as soon as you can.  Do not delay.