The Tao of Travel

Paul Theroux likes trains; he has roamed the world and ridden trains and written great books with neat names like "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" or "The Old Patagonia Express." In his upcoming book he brings us a spiritual sense of the meaning of travel. To be released in May, Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Roadis a Traveler's Cooperstown, a hall of fame of writings and commentary on travels from writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Freya Stark, Eudora Welty, Anton Chekhov, and Ernest Hemingway. He even includes a chapter on traveler's advice from Sir Francis Galton, who measured and contrasted human abilities and is one of the founders of psychological testing. Theroux's words will inspire the young and rekindle the old:

As a child, yearning to leave home and go far away, the image in my mind was of flight — my little self hurrying off alone. The word 'travel' did not occur to me, nor did the word 'transformation' which was my unspoken but enduring wish. I wanted to find a new self in a distant place, and new things to care about. The importance of elsewhere was something I took on faith. Elsewhere was the place I wanted to be. Too young to go, I read about elsewheres, fantasizing about my freedom. Books were my road. And then, when I was old enough to go, the roads I traveled became the obsessive subject in my own books. Eventually I saw that the most passionate travelers have always also been passionate readers and writers. And that is how this book came about.

Advertisement

The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences. Chekhov said, 'If you're afraid of loneliness, don't marry.' I would say, if yo're afraid of loneliness, don't travel. The literature of travel shows the effects of solitude, sometimes mournful, more often enriching, now and then unexpectedly spiritual.

All my traveling life I have been asked the maddening and oversimplifying question 'What is your favorite travel book?' How to answer it? I have been on the road for almost fifty years and writing about my travels for more than forty years. One of the first books my father read to me at bedtime when I was small was Donn Fendler: Lost on a Mountain in Maine. This 1930s as-told-to account described how a twelve-year-old boy survived eight days on Mount Katahdin. Donn suffered, but he made it out of the Maine woods. The book taught me lessons in wilderness survival, including the basic one: 'Always follow a river or a creek in the direction the water is flowing.' I have read many travel books since, and I have made journeys on every continent except Antarctica, which I have recounted in eight books and hundreds of essays. I have felt renewed inspiration in the thought of little Donn making it safely down the high mountain

The travel narrative is the oldest in the world, the story the wanderer tells to the folk gathered around the fire after his or her return from a journey. 'This is what I saw'; news from the wider world; the odd, the strange, the shocking, tales of beasts or of other people. 'They're just like us!' or 'They're not like us at all!' The traveler's tale is always in the nature of a report. And it is the origin of narrative fiction too, the traveler enlivening a dozing group with invented details, embroidering on experience. It's how the first novel in English got written. Daniel Defoe based Robinson Crusoe on the actual experience of the castaway Alexander Selkirk, though he enlarged the story, turning Selkirk's four and a half years on a remote Pacific Island into twenty-eight years on a Caribbean island, adding Friday, the cannibals, and tropical exotica.

Travel and spirituality are linked in the world's three great religions, recorded in scriptures and recounted lovingly and longingly for generations into the future. Moses led the Jewish people through the desert; people of Islam travel on pilgrimage to Mecca. St. Paul's three missionary journeys took him to places gone but now immortalized--Galatia, Ephesus, Phillipi--and of course, finally to Rome. Paul Theroux brings to mind the unifying value of travel, more than guidebooks collected, passports treasured, or iPhone photos stored: a spiritual dimension or Tao. Perhaps we will start to think about places where we want to go, or be reminded of voyages we have made, and what they meant to us.

William Van Ornum

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Janice Feng
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling allows a person to learn so much about themselves. Whether in a group or alone, experiencing the world and seeing how others live brings things in your own life into light. Travelling isn't just going to a new country and living their for a few days, travelling to me is when you find those experiences and bring yourself to those places that aren't tourist destinations. You seek out what a country/village/place has to really offer not just where the path has been made. It is not always the easiest thing to do and brings the possibility of more danger and uncomfort than the normal path, but the rewards are so much greater and enriching than any can imagine. You see the people, the real people of the country; experience the culture, the real culture; and you learn so much, so incredibly much about yourself that you never knew. My heart belongs to the cultures, the people and the little corners of the world that allow me to experience life that is different than the one I know. Beautiful scenery is one thing, but those kind of experiences and moments are something so different. If I could travel the world and write books about them for the rest of my life or even for a year, that would be a dream. The fullness you feel from experiences like that is the best feeling one could imagine.
Stephanie Waring
6 years 9 months ago
I am definitely very excited to read this book, “Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road”, when it comes out in May.  I find myself to be one very curious person about what the rest of the world has to offer.  This past fall semester, I traveled abroad to Florence, Italy.  Those four months when I was traveling from country to country, and city to city, I can honestly and enthusiastically say were the best four months of my entire life.  In this article, Chekov says “if your afraid of loneliness, don’t travel”.  When I studied abroad, I went with a great group of 50+ Marist students, 15 of which whom I was very close with to begin with.  As soon as we stepped off the plane in Italy, I made lifelong friends that I wasn’t expecting to make for the mere fact that we were all beginning a new life in a new country filled with endless opportunities, possibilities and laughter. Within those long four months, which seemed to fly by quicker than any other semester at Marist College had, we traveled outside of the country to Ibiza Spain, Munich Germany, Dublin Ireland, London England, Paris France, Berlin Germany, Amsterdam Holland and Prague Czech Republic.  Not to mention all of the beautiful sights within the different towns, regions, and cities within Italy such as the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Positano, Venice, Bari, Rome, Capri, and Assisi.  I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was lucky enough to be able to travel to all of those great places and soak in the experience each of them had to offer.  I had never realized how different Europe was from America until I became such a traveler.  To this day, I tell myself that I would love to move to Europe, but then I stop to think if living in Europe is what would really make me happy in life, or whether its just the excitement and mystifying lifestyle of traveling and vacation that I live for. 
As the article quotes in the words of Theorux, “the wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences”.  These words sum up my whole experience abroad, and I find them to be so true.  My life turned upside down, for the better, when I was in Europe for four months.  I made such great friends, that I know will be my friends for a lifetime. I took chances that normally I wouldn’t dare to take if I were here in America.  I laughed and I smiled everyday because everything made me happy.  I basically had no responsibilities or burdens on my mind, which would sometimes hold me back from going all out and giving my 100% when I’m home.  I’ve seen the most amazing sights that have changed my perspective on life, love, friends and family.  I went to Italy knowing that it may be difficult to adjust and make friends; I was a stranger to that country, and once I left and returned to America, I knew I had left a huge piece of my heart there in Italy as well, and I know it won’t be long before I return for a visit to remember my voyages and the life changing experiences that occurred to make me into the person I am today.
Vanessa Adamo
6 years 9 months ago
 
Dianna (#10),
I too have been very fortunate to visit many places and go on many different types of vacation throughout my life. It is very interesting to read that your parents are immigrants from Croatia because although my parents have instilled the importance of travel, they were born and raised in America. However, my grandparents are immigrants of Italy and Portugal and I still have family living in both places and have been able to travel to see them and learn about my family roots as well.  However, your parents being immigrants of Croatia must make the travel experience very different from those of others.
I completely agree with your statement that traveling is an eye-opening experience. I too mention in my post that reading about  a place and actually visiting are so different and the experience is difficult to put into words. I too have witnessed the shacks that people live in in the Dominican Republic and it is a sight that is difficult to see and it makes you appreciate the life that you have.  The stories about the miracles you have heard about and the churches you have visited seem absolutely amazing. It was very interesting to read about your experiences!
Allyse Bamonte
6 years 9 months ago
     Along with the three religious journies that you (Dr.Van Ornum) have mentioned, there are also countless stories of Buddhist monks, Islamic travellers, and other wanderers who encounter a "spiritual awakening" while travelling, sometimes to a specific destination, but most of the time to wherever they are led. In a religious studies course I took here at Marist, my classmates and I were each assigned a different book of this sort, with over three quarters of them dealing with spritual awakenings that occured during a travelling experience. Why is it that travelling brings upon a new overwhelming sense of self, yet still manages to make so many people feel that there must be some higher power in control of this vast world?
     When studying abroad in London this past semester, and travelling to many countries within Europe and the UK, I was given a similar feeling. Not saying that I had become "enlightened" or something of that magnitude, but there was a very calm, spiritual aspect that travelled along beside me. As time went on, I began feeling such a sense of independence and empowerment, especially when exploring on my own (and jumping off cliffs into the ocean in Wales!). Walking in an area where you do not know a single person can be extremely nerve wrecking and lonely, however I began to find it peaceful in a way. I would walk past particular people or families and wonder who they were, sometimes creating little scenarios of where they were going or where they came from. I learned a lot by watching people, and realized how alike we all are.
       There were strangers that I passed, and would never get to know, but there were also people who I became extremely close with. Almost immediately, a few girls and I met three guys about our age who ended up becoming very close friends throughout our stay in London. It didn't hit me as, "These are my friends from London," but rather that these are simply, my friends. I also took part in an internship and made many bonds, a few particular ones that I'll never forget. I am still in contact with these people that I formed strong relationships with, and hope to see them again in the future. It's amazing how we can come from such different places around the world but it all simply comes down to the same things. People are people, seeking friendship and love. Perhaps in a poverty stricken country, friendship is formed over sharing the last bite of food. And in another country, bonds are made over a fresh pizza and a glass of wine. No matter the circumstance, humans are humans, and for the most part we have the same desires and needs. This became overwhelmingly evident to me as I travelled, and made me feel as if the world had shrunk to the size of a small town.
       On the other hand, there were moments that made me feel the complete opposite. When I travelled to places containing so much natural beauty from the landscape, I couldn't help but be overtaken by the feeling that the world was enormous, and that I had seen only such a slight portion of it. Seeing the Earth's immensity firsthand made me feel so small, yet I was not discouraged by this. I felt more confident in my belief that in a place so big and powerful, there had to be a "God" somewhere, guiding me. I felt closer to "God," the Earth itself, and the people within it. As strange as it sounds, I felt a sense of belonging. One in which we are all people under the same magnificent sky, and however big and powerful it is, we are united under it.
       It's incredibly hard to put my travelling experience into words. More than anything, it was a trip filled with many emotions and feelings. There are not enough words, or words with the right meaning to describe most feelings we get. However, my time abroad did make me "feel" more connected with not only myself, but also with the world, its people, and the "God" I believe in.
david power
6 years 9 months ago
@David Smith,

I agree with you David about visiting and staying.I have worked in 15 different countries and it is an entirely different story.
If you stay in a place for a little longer you no longer get the sugar high of being the guest and also the sense of temporary release that travelling for a shorter period gives.
 But you get a chance to digest your experience a lot more and to deepen the understanding of cultural differences. 
I only spent 5 months in California but it was shocking for me to see the differences between the Irish way and what people from Santa Barbara think and how they act etc.
The best thing is being able to pick and choose from what you see in other cultures and what you have from your own.Those who have not lived abroad or travelled usually have to insist on the superiority of their way. But I think that nowadays it is changing rapidly thanks to the blessings of Ryanair etc. 
Alexandra Burgess
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling has been a major component of my life as well. From a young age my family has instilled in me a love for exploring new places and immersing myself in unfamiliar territories. As a child I would spend part of my summer vacation with my aunt and uncle, who were the first to introduce me “to the city that never sleeps-” NYC in fourth grade!
 
Being raised in a small, rural town, this was such as magical experience for myself. Many people dislike the “hustle and bustle,” of the city but to me this fast pace of life was so exciting! As the years went by, we continued to venture off to NYC every summer, where I began to establish a new sense of independence after navigating the streets and subway lines of Manhattan all by myself. As the city is well known for it’s amazing and AUTHENTIC cuisines, my travels have also expanded my tasting palette. If it weren’t for NYC, I may have never developed a love for THAI food! (if you get the chance definitely check out LAND restaurant on Amsterdam between 81st and 82nd- AMAZING!!)
 
This summer as a part of Spring attachment, I will be traveling to Ghana, Africa where a small group of us will be working to help improve community development. This was a major decision for me, as traveling to a third world country is certainly no luxury. I do however embrace this opportunity, for I know being exposed to their culture and ways of life will have a profound impact on myself and the way I lead my life.
 
As many of you have said, traveling is truly an eye-opening experience. Whether studying abroad or just simply vacationing in a foreign land, getting “away” from our normal daily routines always seems to render a perfect remedy. It is my hope through my travels around the world that I can gain a better understanding and appreciation for the things in life I am so fortunate to have.” 
6 years 9 months ago
Dr. van Ornum,


My wife has read most of Theroux's books and some of our travels were due to her readings.  She is always coming up with new places to go.  A couple little tidbits.


Theroux would just up and go to write his books and leave his wife and children behind.  One time he returned from one of his trips and found them gone.


Galton is the cousin of Charles Darwin and the founder of eugenics.  And for that he was knighted.  Your students might want to factor that into his efforts and motivation to develop psychological testing.
Alyssa Cariani
6 years 9 months ago
I always liked to travel. I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to go on amazing vacations with my family throughout my whole life. However, when I made the decision to study abroad for a semester in Italy, I would be on my own. There would be no more directions from Mom or scheduled plans from Dad. My agenda was all up to me and I was absolutely petrified.
I nearly decided against going-I was afraid of getting lost and not being in control of my surroundings. Ignoring my fears, I pushed myself to go and couldn't be happier for doing so.  
Things started off pretty smoothly. If I ever got lost, i was with friends who worked with me to find our way. One day, I got lost all by myself.
I was in Germany for the weekend celebrating Springfest with my friends. They wanted to stay out much later than I did so I told them it would be okay if I went home by myself. Clearly, I didn't pay enough attention to the street signs (i guess they all looked alike) or how I got to the grounds of the festival, because I got miserably lost in the middle of Munich, by myself, at a late hour, and without a map. I began to panic, but then I realized I could do this. I could find my way. I calmed down, trusted my gut, and after MANY failed attempts, I found my way back to our hostel (where my friends greeted me...so much for leaving early). This experience helped me to learn to trust my instincts and to have faith in myself. It seems to small, but it had such a big effect. 
6 years 9 months ago
Also I forgot to include as a comment that the Galatia of St. Paul refers to a group of people who were from Gaul.  So they are relatives of the Celts who also came from Gaul.  The Gauls were travelers.  So us Irish are related to a bunch of the Turks.
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Mr. JR Cosgrove:

Which of your travels have enriched your faith? How?

thanks, bill
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Alyssa,

I am still trusting maps and compasses. No GPS. And like you, my instincts! best, bvo
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
p.s. to Mr. JR Cosgrove

Maybe Mr. Theroux and wife should have taken the FOCCUS at some point? bvo
Kayna Pfeiffer
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling is one of the most eye opening experiences a person can have. Being introduced to a different culture gives us perspective on the world and allows us to see the world outside of ''our world.'' Through our travels we get the opportunity to learn about the things we have only read about in textbooks. It allows for hands on learning and makes us have an appreciation for rituals and customs different than our own.

Last spring semester I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. This was a life changing experience. When I first arrived I stuck out like a sore thumb. I might as well have had American tattooed on my forehead. I felt like a minority and that gave me a true appreciation for others who have felt this way. Over time however, I learned some Italian and made some local friends. This helped to immerse me into the culture and although I probably still looked American, local people seemed to warm up to me a little more. 

Through my travels during this time in Italy, Germany, France, London, Monaco, Greece, and Spain I learned that regardless of where a person comes from we all have similar aspirations and dreams to become successful. I feel that from a young age we are taught that the American culture is superior to all others. By having these encounters with others from around the world, my views started to shift. Although, America has so much to offer, so does other countries and cultures. I learned that you don't have to be wealthy to be happy. Some of the happiest people I met lived in poverty and endured many hardships throughout their lives. It was the simplest things that made them happy. I was told that in Europe ''people work to live'' they don't ''live to work'' as many do here in the U.S. I think this is something for us all to consider. Even if we have the Protestant Work Ethic instilled in us we should take some time off every now and again to travel and get the opportunity to see the world in a new light!
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Kayna,

How important it is to "work to live" and not "live to work." I don't think I've got this one figured out yet.

Maybe focusing on "working to live" is a good thought for those, like you, who will be graduating soon. best, bvo
Margaret Frenzel
6 years 9 months ago
     Having never previously left the United States before, studying abroad in Florence, Italy was the most eye-opening 4 months of my life so far.  Sometimes I look back and wonder how I actually went through with it; I am an only child, extremely close with my parents, and attend Marist College which is approximately 25 minutes from my house.  It was a big move for me simply to live on campus throughout my college career.  I never dreamed I would be flying to Europe to study abroad for a semester.  But thank goodness I did.
     I have watched myself grow more in the past 6 months than ever before.  The independence I developed, the confidence I gained in myself, and the various things I was exposed to have changed my life.  Although I cried many days and nights because I felt so homesick, I never let it get me down and I pushed through the pain and tried to live every single day to its fullest potential.  Now that I am home, I would give anything to go back.  I think about the magical city of Florence every single day.  I even dream about it regularly. 
     Now that I have experienced the wonders of traveling the world I don't think I will ever be able to stop.  Something inside me is pulling at me every day to see more, to explore.  I find it difficult to write this because it is challenging for me to put such a life changing experience into words, especially the right ones.  Not only am I proud of myself for making the decision to study abroad, but I am thankful to myself as well.  I hope that all the students who don't think they can handle going abroad give it at least a little more thought because I was one of those students and it has changed my life immensely for the better.
Diana Sablich
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling is definitely an amazing experience!  I have been fortunate enough to visit many places and go on many different types of vacations throughout my life.  I have experienced cruises and all-inclusive resorts.  Places I have visited include different parts of the Caribbean, Croatia, Italy, and parts of the United States, such as California.  My mom and dad are immigrants from Croatia.  My first time visiting this country was an amazing experience!  I learned about my family’s roots, and got to see where my mom and dad grew up.  It was incredible to meet all the family I had never met before. 
Traveling is such an eye-opening experience! Reading about a place and actually visiting are so different.  By visiting new places, you are exposed to new culture and different ways of life.  You really get a feel for the way of life when you are in a new place with a different way of life.  I have visited the Dominican Republic, and passed through villages in which people live in shacks, but make the most of what they have.  It really makes you appreciate all that you have. 
Faith plays an important role in all of my travels.  I always ask God to watch over me and protect me.  I have always had a fear of planes, but saying a prayer before take-off always puts me at ease.  I have visited churches where people leave crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs because they had been healed by God and given the joy of walking again.  It is amazing how faith can have such an impact in one’s life.  It was a real eye-opening experience for me to hear stories about the miracles that had occurred.
Vanessa Adamo
6 years 9 months ago
Paul Theroux’s book sounds like one that I would be very interested in reading, as I am a huge advocate of traveling. I am from a family who believes that exploring and understanding other cultures is extremely important, and therefore have done immense amounts of travelling. My mother would always tell me, “you started traveling before you were even born”, as she travelled to Europe when she was pregnant with me, therefore, I believe that travel is in my blood.
Every summer since I was young my parents had decided to take my three sisters and I to a different island. We started going to places such as the Bahamas, which was gorgeous, but there was not much culture change to observe. I started to realize culture change when we traveled to places such as Jamaica, Mexico, Haiti, and The Dominican Republic. To see the extreme cultural differences in such places was amazing, however, when I went to The Dominican Republic it was an experience that was difficult to swallow. The summer we arrived in the Dominican Republic we were told that the bus ride would take about two hours. The resort was far from the airport and as we traveled the roads of the Dominican Republic we knew why. The area surrounding the airport was indescribably horrid. I have never seen such poverty and hardship in my entire life. As we drive the roads I witnessed people’s homes being bulldozed down  by government orders. What was even worse was that these people were trying to save their homes, standing in front of the bulldozers holding mattresses; the bulldozers refused to stop. In addition, on our journey to the hotel our bus was stopped and military officials searched the bus for escaping local; each holding a rifle gun; it was a sight that was scary to see and difficult to comprehend.
In addition to the many islands that I had traveled to, my parents took me on a two  week trip to Italy when I was a freshman in high school. I had never been to Europe before and was beyond excited. While in Italy, we visited out family in Milan, where we would attend a cousins wedding. It was amazing to see how my family in Italy lived. We are so often misconceived by others culture through tourist resorts and are therefore unaware of the true culture, however, I was able to witness the true culture through visiting and staying with family. After visiting family we traveled to Venice and the Santa Margarita, which was absolutely breathtaking. Santa Margarita cannot be described with words, it is a sight that needs to be seen with one’s own eyes.
I have traveled to many places around the world with my family and they are all experiences that I will cherish forever. However, when I came to college I decided that I would study abroad and travel to Europe on my own. My Junior year of college I decided to study abroad in London. It was a surprisingly easy decision for me to make, however after the decision was finalized, I realized that I would be completely alone, far away from those I relied on. However, I found this fear to disappear as this experience began.  It is very cliché to hear someone who has traveled abroad to state that it was an experience of a lifetime, however, there is no other words to explain it. Many believe that traveling to London would not come with many cultural differences; I used to be one of those people. However, I came to find that their culture indeed was very different, but one that I enjoyed immensely. Of course while I was in London I had o travel Europe and therefore decided to travel to Italy to the Amalfi Coast, which consisted of Pompeii, Positano, Sorrento, and  Capri, to Ireland, Greece, and Paris. All were such different experiences but equally amazing.
I have found that travelling while helping me create bonds and friendship, has created independence. There was much that I had to do on my own while in London; things that I would have normally relied on others for if I were home. I gained a sense of independence and of confidence. Even more however, travel helps us to know other culture rather than read about them. What you read about in books can never compare to what you see and experience first- hand. I have learned so much about so many different cultures and have hoped to adopt some of these cultural ways. I believe that everyone should travel if they receive the opportunity. My parents have instilled the importance of travel in me since I was a little girl and I plan on continuing my tradition of travel through the entirety of my life.
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Annie,

I hope to make it to Florence sometime! tx bvo
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Diana,

I am touched by your description of the role of faith in your travels. Thanks for your story. bvo
we vnornm
6 years 9 months ago
Vanessa,

Your description of your travel is Theroux-like for me. tx. bvo

Joseph Komorowski
6 years 9 months ago
I have been travelling ever since I was a baby.  Although most of my travelling has been around the United States, I have been fortunate enough to leave the United States multiple times.  The greatest trip that I’ve ever been on was when I studied abroad to Madrid.  While living in Madrid for 4 months, I was able to learn so much about the Spanish culture, as well as other countries’ cultures because I travelled so often in Europe.  I was also able to become more mature and independent because I was able to travel on my own and do what I wanted to do.
I think everyone should take the time to travel outside of the United States.  Even if you only have time to travel for only a week, you can learn so much about another culture through seeing it through your own eyes.  It is much better to visit another country to learn about culture than it is to read about it or listening about other country’s cultures from other people because travelling makes the culture seem more tangible. 
After studying abroad in Europe, I realized that I want to travel more of the world and experience other cultures.  I think learning about other cultures helps you to appreciate not only your culture, but others’ cultures.  There is so much outside of the United States to explore, and I was fortunate to find that out after travelling around Europe.
6 years 9 months ago
Growing up in a small Midwest farming community, I used to listen to the train whistles at night and dream about travelling to "big" cities and foreign countries.  My parents, of Bohemian ethnicity laughingly called themselves "gypsies", so I think the travel bug is genetic  :-)      When I was 11yrs old, my family began spending summers on Lake of the Woods in Canada.  We lived next to a Chipewa Indian Reserve which was an eye opener for all of us.  My dad flew us into many remote areas in his float plane.  The urge to explore was nurtured at an early age!  But, it wasn't until I was in middle age that I began travelling in earnest and I've subsequently visited many countries and had great learning experiences.  Of all the trips, the "trip of a lifetime" was the pilgrimage I went on  in 2008.  It was a time of re-conversion for me, a renewal of commitment to our Faith.  Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, Mary, the apostles and martyrs is awe-inspiring.  Now during Lent I'm recalling walking on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and meditating again on the meaning of Christ's passion, death and resurrection.
Jaclyn Greiner
6 years 9 months ago
       In my opinion the want to travel is a natural human instinct that most people have within. The want to explore the world, learn new things, meet new people and go somewhere outside of you comfort zone is to me a common desire of many people. Throughout my life I have mainly only traveled along the east coast of the United States and have been to two resorts in Jamaica and Cancun. Although I have been to two other countries I really did not feel as though I got a sense of the history or culture of either place since I mainly stayed at the resorts and nearby beaches. In order to really learn a culture I believe you have to submerse yourself in it and take full advantage of everything around you. To be able to escape your normal life and go somewhere completely different and unfamiliar is probably an eye-opening and enlightening experience.
       This is why next semester I have chosen to study abroad in Florence Italy. Studying abroad was a tough decision for me to make since I am a very highly family oriented person and have never been away from my family for that long a period of time. Although this aspect makes me somewhat nervous I know the experience is worth it. Reading people’s comments on this blog about studying abroad has made me very excited and relieved. I have never heard of someone having a bad experience abroad. Everyone I have spoken to or heard from that has gone abroad enjoyed every minute of it and wishes they could go back. Since in my eyes, this is going to be my first time really traveling I am going to take full advantage of it. I want to travel all over Europe and learn about all different kinds of cultures and ways of life. I am hoping this traveling experience will help me become more independent, confident, and well rounded. I believe it will teach me to be open minded and to know more about different cultures around the world. I am extremely excited and cannot wait to begin on my journey. As St.Augustine once said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”, I plan on reading as many pages as I can.
Desiree Desaulniers
6 years 9 months ago


   Although I have never been out of the country, I have many dreams to visit places all over the world. Like the travel narrative of Theroux, I am a full believer in traveling as it provides a link to one’s spirituality and is also an enriching experience that can provide a perspective on life that nothing else can offer. While my experience with traveling is limited to visiting other states within the United States, I know that even in those traveling trips, I always left feeling more in tune with my inner-self, my surrounding family members, and my home. There is something about culture shock that leaves you feeling more connected to what you know, longing to be within reach of it. However, once the traveling experience ends, most people are ready to experience it again—the simple beauty of traveling.
   In the future, I hope to visit places that relate directly to my heritage and to places that are so far opposite from what I know and represent. Understanding the world by visiting foreign places that may feel close to home while also remaining unfamiliar in every way, will hopefully give me spiritual insight that can help me lead my life in the most positive and energy-driven way. I continue to be excited for the future for these reasons. 
Shannon Mckenna
6 years 9 months ago
My family and I have been going on vacations ever since I can remember.  Living in New Jersey, we’ve traveled to many places along the northeast coast including North and South Carolina, New York, Vermont and Florida.  We’ve also been to Canada, Mexico, The Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos and The Bahamas.  All of these vacations I’ve been on have only been for a few weeks at most and with my entire family. However, this coming fall I am going on a journey unlike any I have ever experienced. 
I will be going to Florence, Italy at the end of August to spend an entire semester abroad studying in the country – and this time I will not have my family there with me.  I’ve never even been to Europe or anywhere besides the North American region for that matter.  Going to Italy with my friends this fall with certainly be a new experience for me.  I feel that once I am there and traveling around to neighboring countries, I will have a deeper understanding of what different cultures are like around the world.  By actually visiting, I will gain a one-on-one experience of the traditions and customs in Europe and I cannot wait!
Erin Graetzer
6 years 9 months ago
   Luckily, I've been fortunate enough to travel fairly extensively in my life. Each experience has been truly remarkable to me and has added something special to my life. As much as I enjoy exploring new places I also appreciate the tradition of traveling to the same place year after year. It acts as an escape for me and my family to truly value the time we have together. Vacation is the one time of year where you can truly let go of all the work and stress in your life and take time to enjoy the people that make you life what it is. You can reflect on how precious every moment is and honestly, just come back refreshed.
   Like I said, I really enjoy the traditions of vacationing to the same places with my family year after year. It allows my family to have a connection to bond over. However, being able to explore new places is an eye opening experience like no other. This way you can see other cultures and explore other ways of life. 
  The bottom line is that vacationing and traveling is a way to appreciate other ways of life, expand your horizons in life and simply live! 
Alyssa Moirano
6 years 9 months ago
As I sit and read comments which describe months alone abroad, I am sad to say I do not have an experience to share.  Although I agree that traveling can be a very eye-opening and life-changing experience, I also believe it is not for everyone.  I often hear my friends say, “I would love to move to Italy for a year” or other familiar phrases, however, I can’t say I share the same point of view.  I agree with the statement that traveling brings opportunities such as: “the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences,” however, I do not believe that traveling is the only way to nurture these feelings.  I do not think that I need a foreign country to find myself, reach a level of independence, or grow up.  No matter the location, I believe that I can do all of this and more.  I am able to find myself through prayer and become independent through school and work. 
 
To me, travel has always been a recreational part of my life.  I have, and probably always will, associate travel with spending time with my family and close friends.  For example, every summer all of my family goes on a vacation.  When my siblings and cousins were younger, we would travel to destinations such as Disneyland and Hershey Park.  As the years continued and we began to grow older, our trips extended to places such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.  Although we are all older now, we still find ourselves, year after year together for a week during the summer away from home. I also have traveled with my friends.  In my junior year of high school I traveled to Italy and France for 10 days; it was an extremely educational trip. I do enjoy traveling.  I enjoy a break from my hectic everyday life.  I enjoy the change of scenery for a few days.  I enjoy being able to relax and spend time with my family.  However, I have never had a life-changing experience while traveling.  I have never had that one moment where I said “I could see myself living here.”
 
After reading the article and the comments of others, and reflecting on my own ideas, I have concluded that traveling means different things for different people.  For some it may be a form of relaxation.  For others it may be to experience new cultures and ways of life.  Some may travel to spread their faith.  A few, to gain knowledge.  However, I think most would agree, that no matter the reasons behind it, traveling is an important part of our culture and our lives.
Margaret Frenzel
6 years 9 months ago
    Like many others I, too, have had a fear of flying my entire life.  I think the main reason for this was because I hadn't had too many experiences with it.  Studying abroad certainly changed that.  While studying in Florence, I traveled as much as I could.  It was exhausting, but well worth it.  Sometimes I was able to stay on land to get where I wanted to go, but I flew to London and Barcelona via Ryanair.  (I'm sure anybody who has studied abroad knows this airline.)  Even though the flight from NYC to Italy was lenghty, at least it was semi-comfortable. I cannot say the same for Ryanair.  (But nothing beats the price!)  I learned to hold a friends hand on take off, think positively, and say a little prayer.  I learned to accept things that are outside of my control.  And I am no longer afraid of flying.
Nicole Weir
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling is, when truly thought about, indescribable. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled many places throughout my life, in many different situations. I have witnessed new cultures, met new people, seen new things.
I am traveling abroad in Italy next semester and I beyond excited because I know that is an experience of a lifetime. I have never traveled somewhere so new and far by myself so although I have been to many places, I know this will be even more of a new experience.
As you have mentioned, there is nothing that can relive the experience fully. No pictures, videos, journals; nothing can bring back the experience to the fullest. When I was younger, I would always get upset upon returning home because everything I had just witnessed and experienced was done. Even looking at pictures and talking  about my travels with family and friends can not bring back the reality of the trip, proving that traveling does indeed have a spiritual sense to it, which makes me want to read Theroux's book!
Dana Shea
6 years 9 months ago
I like the idea of travelling being linked to spirituality. Whenever I travel with my family or friends to a new place, I always have a feeling of excitement and wonder that cannot quite be described. New places are thrilling and I really enjoy exploring the unknown. Whenever I am in a new place I try to immerse myself in the culture in order to get the full experience of my travelling. My favorite thing about new places is the food. I make it a point to try the local food in every place I visit. I think that food is such a large part of the culture in many places and eating in small, locally-owned restaurants is a great way to get to know a place. When I visited Belize a few years ago I went cave tubing and afterwards our tour guide made us lunch. He made barbeque chicken along with many other delicious sides. That meal was one of the best parts of my trip; we were able to eat some authentic Belizean food with some really interesting local residents that shared a lot with us about their lives and culture.
I also always try to visit local churches while I am travelling. One of the most beautiful churches I visited was in the Dominican Republic. It was a very open space with no walls on 3 of the 4 sides. Although I did not understand the mass because it was delivered in Spanish, it was a beautiful ceremony that I really felt a part of. I think that is important to share experiences such as these with local people when visiting different places to fully immerse yourself in the culture. 

Ryan Mead
6 years 9 months ago
                 I would classify myself as a wanderer or an explorer more than a traveler. I tend to explore state parks all around New York during some of my free time. These minor trips are usually the most I travel since I don’t have the money to reach anywhere significant and haven’t most of my life. These parks are my sanctuaries away from home, a place of self-reflection and discovery. I usually won’t end up leaving a park till I’ve walked all the trails and even then, I tend to walk some of my favorite paths often. It provides me with a sense of relaxation and gives me a quiet, peaceful place to self-reflect.
                Traveling to a new park and hiking beaten down paths undiscovered to me is surprisingly one of my most enjoyable activates. A few months back I got the pleasure of driving over to Minnewaska State Park and hiking some amazing mountains and even taking park in some free hand cliff climbing and I have to say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When you get to the top of the mountain you can see 50 miles in every direction and it is an amazing feeling that I would have never had without my desire to explore and discover new places.
                I feel as though even if you can’t travel to distant exotic lands it’s worth it to explore the beauty that is around you whether it is the bright lights of New York City or the country side of the Hudson valley. It’s hard to not learn something about yourself or someone else when you travel and it is an experience I think everyone should have, no matter how small the trip is.
Stacey Alley
6 years 9 months ago
            As I read the sentence “The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend…” I thought of leaving home for my first semester of college. I had such “big” plans for myself. See, in high school, I was more shy, and quiet, and was not the girl that walked down the hallway saying ‘hi’ to everyone that passed her. I had a few close friends, and that was that. Although I enjoyed my high school years, I wanted more and I thought that going away to school, and leaving my past behind, was going to change everything for me. I was going to start fresh. I was going to change myself; I’d be more outgoing, and fun and as a result meet lots of new people, start new relationships, and have the most wonderful college experience ever. Well, long story short, I was wrong and I ended up transferring back home.
            Because of my schedule, I do not have the time to study abroad, however, I was playing with the idea of taking part in the Hawaii spring attachment offered at Marist. I had originally thought of going this upcoming summer, but when my friend who was supposed to go with me told me she couldn’t, I backed out. As Theroux suggested, “if you're afraid of loneliness, don't travel.” I was afraid to go on my own. I was afraid to be alone. The only traveling I’ve done in my life has been with my family, and it’s only been along the east coast of the United States. My parents and family joke that I live in a bubble. So, after lots of recent thinking I have decided to reapply for the following spring attachment, whether I have someone going with me or not, because I believe it is something I need to do for myself. I need to expand my world.
                Especially after reading all of the above comments, I realize what an impact travel can have on someone’s life. Traveling is a time to gain new experiences, perspective and insight, a time to view the world through a different set of eyes. If we all live in “bubbles” our whole lives, we’ll be missing out. This brings to mind a new TV show called Secret Millionaire on ABC. Millionaires spend time in some of OUR country’s poorest areas and their lives are forever changed by their experiences. So, similarly to what Alyssa (22) stated above, you don’t always have to travel far for your journey to greatly influence your life.
Kailee Mcevoy
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling is something I have always been interested in, and have been fortunate to have done some traveling in the past.  My family took vacations every summer throughout my childhood, some more exciting than others. Each trip brought us closer together as a family, and left us with many memories that will last us all forever. In the fall I will be studying abroad in London and I absolutely cannot wait.  I am so excited to see a continent I've never seen and explore the history and culture of Europe.  Traveling opens your eyes to so many new things and it is such an amazing way to bond with people or to get to know yourself.
Kerri Smith
6 years 9 months ago
I have never read Theroux, but this excerpt really has great meaning to me, and I am intrigued to read more. When I was growing up, my family moved around a lot - mostly not by choice but for financial reasons, moving to accommodate new jobs. I was born in California and lived there for six years before moving to New Jersey. At the time I did not realize it, but this is an incredible change. For the first ten years of my life, we did not live in one house for more than two years at a time. Having moved around so much, and having visited family in California every year or two, I belived myself to be quite the expert on traveling.

However, I believe there is a significant difference between moving around with your family and traveling. When you move from home to home with your family, your core remains the same. You still return home to the same people, and not much really changes, especially in my case, where I still lived in the United States, in all very suburban areas. It was not until the middle of high school that I realized there is much more to traveling than just moving from one home to another. During high school, I took part in two community service programs, one that went to Costa Rica for a week, and another that went to India for 17 days. These two experiences were monumental in my life. I had never before witnessed any form of lifestyle outside of the U.S., and especially seeing the poverty yet happiness of those in the mountains of India was truly a humbling experience.

My travels to Costa Rica and India left me hungering for more. And thus last spring I studied abroad in England. Unlike many of my friends, I chose to study abroad at an actual university (UEA) two hours north of London, in the small old town of Norwich. The experience was life-changing. During my time abroad, I traveled to Greece, Florence, Rome, Paris, Milan, Switzerland, and all over Southern Ireland. I met so many people from all over the world, and I experienced so many different and unique lifestyles. It was incredible to me how different we all were, yet how innately similar we all were. Our lives were completely different, but we all had the same core instincts, if you will.

I truly agree with the passage by Theroux. The desire to travel is such a large part of our beings, just like the desire to live. Those who travel become grounded and humbled in unbelievable ways. 
Sabrina Scanga
6 years 9 months ago
To travel is to go, move, or journey through or across an area or region. I have had some wonderful experiences with travel in my life thus far. Some travels were short and relatively closer, while others long and farther away from my home. To me travel is a beauty of life. It is something very appealing to me, something I wish to continue doing for the rest of my life. 

When i was very young I visited Italy with my family. We went to Calabria, where my parents are originally from and Rome. Although  i was still young and cannot remember all of my thoughts and experiences there I am so glad that my parents took me. To travel so far and to a place where my culture and family lies is amazing. Although i have not been back there yet my family and I are planning a trip in the up coming year and for that, i cannot wait!

Just last summer I went on a trip to London. I remember all of my experiences and often wish i was back there! I had an absolutely wonderful time, and it seems like i cannot pick just one favorite location/experience to share because all mean so much to me. I went on this trip with my two sisters and we stayed with family. We had wonderful tour guides (my aunt and uncle) and got to see every little piece of London. When I was there i found lots of differences. Most were things that amazed me.   

I remember trips my family and I or my friends and I have taken to other states, and although they are not too far from home they too add to my awareness and experiences of life. Going to Florida, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine and Pennsylvania all add to my wonderful memories of family, friendship, and culture. 


To travel is a series of journeys. For me travel has not ended in my life. The journey will go on and I cannot wait until i venture off to another new place. It is a gift to be able to go around the world to experience differences, similarities and cultures. Friendships will be made or made stronger and   independence will be embraced. While one can see the world through the tv, photos, the internet, or read about them, it will never be as great as seeing it with your own eyes!
Sabrina Scanga
6 years 9 months ago
Vanessa, (comment #11)

Your comment was a pleasure to read! i enjoyed it and agree with you that travel truly does  create independence. Although you studied abroad and I only traveled to London for a short time, I shared the same feeling of being away from those whom we relied on. As you said, independence was gained for me as well. You are very fortunate to have traveled to so many beautiful places around the world! I hope i can make it to some of those places one day!

-Sabrina 
Sabrina Scanga
6 years 9 months ago
Joey, (comment #16)
You said, "I think everyone should take the time to travel outside of the United States.  Even if you only have time to travel for only a week, you can learn so much about another culture through seeing it through your own eyes " and i could not agree with you more! It seems like you took the words right out of my mouth. I enjoyed reading your comment about your time in Madrid. I hope that one day I too can make it to visit!

-Sabrina 
Lauren Palmiere
6 years 9 months ago
Traveling opens people’s minds to a whole new type of world they would never have experienced otherwise. I think that traveling is something that all humans desire to experience and I hope everyone gets the chance to. Traveling allows people to learn more about themselves and a new culture.
I agree with the idea that travel and spirituality are linked because many people travel to connect with their religion. I went to Italy with my high school a few years ago and I was able to go to many churches while I was there. This trip allowed me to connect with my religion because I got to see many famous churches and understand more. I will be studying in Florence this fall and I hope to experience more spirituality there. I am excited to live in a new place for a few months and learn more about my culture. By relating a trip to spirituality I think that people are able to take more from it. If people are able to gain new insight from a place they travel, I think they will remember the trip more.
Although it is nice to save items from trips, the memories are the most important. Memories allow people to relive their experiences over and over again. I love to look back on all my memories I have from traveling along the east coast, Italy, and Mexico. I hope to be able to travel back to all these places in the future, but I hope I am able to explore even more places around the world. Traveling is very important to me and I hope everyone will get a chance to experience something out of his or her comfort zone.
 
Danielle Molins
6 years 9 months ago
I have been truly blessed and have had the privilege to travel throughout my life. I have vacationed in Canada, Greece, Mexico, London and various states in the United States. Each experience has had a profound effect on my life and given me different perspectives of each culture. I have developed profound respects for each country or place in which I have visited and the people that live there. Each vacation has been special to me and created amazing memories. Naturally, I enjoy my time on vacation, but in various instances, upon my arrival back home, I grow more appreciative of where I live and all the blessings in my life.
The vacation that had the most impact upon my life was visiting Mexico. I went with my best friend and her family to the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. This resort was more luxurious and exquisite than I could ever describe or have imagined. However, the part of the vacation that impacted me the most was the drive from the airport to the resort. We had to pass miles and miles of homes and towns of the citizens. The poor state of the shacks and shops was a pain to see, especially when my destination was a five star ritzy hotel just miles away from all the poverty. I felt guilty for having such an indulgent vacation when these citizens were living in a way that I could never fathom. Traveling truly opens up one’s eyes and puts into perspective the lives of oneself. The vacation may have come and gone, but the appreciation and awakening experience will stay with me forever. 
Chelsea Unger
6 years 9 months ago
I have not been exposed to many different cultures, having been out of the country only once. Despite having only a single experience I still feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica on a family vacation. The island was beautiful and culture very different than I had seen in the United States. I remember being shocked about driving on the left side of the road while a shuttle transported me and my family from the airport to the hotel. It was a short commute however, along the way we saw the poverty of the country. Small huts were built along the main road and children were selling fruit from baskets. I distinctly remember my father giving me a squeeze, despite the uncomfortable heat, and rhetorically asked “see how fortunate we are?” Of course I was aware of people who were far less fortunate, but actually seeing them in the flesh and not in a picture or hearing about them on the news made it so much more memorable and made me so much more appreciative.  
While swimming, the team went to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the training trip. We were given one day to explore Old San Juan. The culture of the area was incredible. The fort was magnificent and the architecture of the city was so colorful. I made a friend at Marist who is from San Juan. After expressing how much I loved the city, the people, and that I wanted to work on my Spanish speaking skills, he invited me to stay with him in Puerto Rico whenever I could make the trip. Needless to say, the fact that I traveled to San Juan was a gateway to a friendship. I have a better understanding of him and he feels that he can talk to me about home; he appreciates the time because he does not return until summer vacation.
Certainly reading about these places would have been informative but traveling and having my own experiences is what left an impression.  I hope to travel to Europe, Greece, Australia and China in the future. Traveling to these places can give me a better understanding and appreciation for the cultures of the areas and possibly shed more light onto my own family culture.
Daniela Pereira
6 years 9 months ago
Ever since I could remember, my family has always loved to travel and discover new places. I think it has a lot to do with my culture and the way my parents perceive life. Both my parents were born in Uruguay and came to the U.S when they were kids. For my mom the United States was her first experience of travel, besides within her own country. And for my dad, he first lived in Australia before moving to America. For these reasons, I believe they enjoy traveling for the main purpose of experiencing new cultures, values and traditions (like most people). My parents were able to adapt and learn about new places at a very young age (mainly because they were forced). Yet, they were lucky enough to be exposed to such different customs.
When my brother and I were born, they in stilled in us the same passion to learn new things and understand different ways of life. Our first experience of travel was to Uruguay when we were babies. I cannot say I remember these first trips since I was only 10 months old, however I do think it has helped make me the person I am today. My parents made it a point to travel to different countries throughout the years, which exposed my brother and me to a variety of new situations. Being exposed to the different cultures at a young age has not only taught me about countries, but has allowed me to be opened minded and better understand people of different races and nationalities.
Another great thing about traveling to new places in many people’s case, is being able to step away from the chaos and stress from home and being able to REALLY spend time with your family and friends. I feel the purpose of traveling does not lie in how many pretty pictures one can take or the number of stamps one can collect in their passport. It can help develop deeper and more personal relationships with the company you are with, or even make you realize what you may be missing. Regardless of the different feelings that come with traveling, the main idea it to be able to take something out of the experience; whether it be a 30 minute train ride or a 3,000 mile flight.
Crystal Watson
6 years 9 months ago
Like so many who have already commented, I started traveling when I was a kid.  My  parents divorced when I was about 3 and we moved here to California where my grandparents lived.  After a couple of years we moved to Bermuda with my new stepfather.  We moved back to CA when I was about 10 with stepfather #2.  As I grew up we went on  family vacations to New York, Hawaii, and most fun, to Europe just after college where we experienced serious culture shock  :)
david power
6 years 9 months ago
Annie @23

Your last words reminded me of my father. I asked him why he was afraid of flying and he responded "Im not afraid of flying ,I am afraid of crashing" 
6 years 9 months ago
David (#37) makes a very good point.  "People are people".  I think that it is extremely important for the traveller in other countries and different cultures to always honor the humanity of the people they encounter.  An attitude of humility, sensitivity and compassion is necessary especially for the more affluent travellers.  I learned this as a child while living next to a Chippewa Indian Reserve in Ontario and attending the Mission Church.  When you have made friends with people of another culture you suffer alongside them in their poverty and troubles.  I've lived many years now in a city bordering Mexico and I worked a number of years in the south region of the county with Hispanic clients and supervised Hispanic social workers.  I learned again and again the necessity of deep humility in working with people of another culture.  I also experienced the strengths of the Hispanic culture, the living out of "La Familia" and the devotion to Christ and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In my travels I've encountered the "Ugly American" time after time.  (I could add the"Ugly European"). Some examples are just awful.  Women flaunting their jewels and expensive clothes in areas of poverty.  Critical and judmental remarks lacking charity and understanding of differences.  Expecting people of other countries to speak English and criticizing them when they don't.  Just plain old arrogance and snobbishness.  Not having a clue as to what the tao of travel might mean.
6 years 9 months ago
David (#37) makes a very good point.  "People are people".  I think that it is extremely important for the traveller in other countries and different cultures to always honor the humanity of the people they encounter.  An attitude of humility, sensitivity and compassion is necessary especially for the more affluent travellers.  I learned this as a child while living next to a Chippewa Indian Reserve in Ontario and attending the Mission Church.  When you have made friends with people of another culture you suffer alongside them in their poverty and troubles.  I've lived many years now in a city bordering Mexico and I worked a number of years in the south region of the county with Hispanic clients and supervised Hispanic social workers.  I learned again and again the necessity of deep humility in working with people of another culture.  I also experienced the strengths of the Hispanic culture, the living out of "La Familia" and the devotion to Christ and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In my travels I've encountered the "Ugly American" time after time.  (I could add the"Ugly European"). Some examples are just awful.  Women flaunting their jewels and expensive clothes in areas of poverty.  Critical and judmental remarks lacking charity and understanding of differences.  Expecting people of other countries to speak English and criticizing them when they don't.  Just plain old arrogance and snobbishness.  Not having a clue as to what the tao of travel might mean.
Stephanie Schwarz
6 years 9 months ago
Dr. Van Ornum,
 
I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to travel on multiple occasions. As a child, family vacations were nothing more than engaging in fun-filled activities such as experiencing Disney World and having fun with my sisters. As I have grown older, however, I have realized that there is a new dimension to traveling and this is the spiritual dimension. Two specific trips have really proven this to be true. Studying abroad in Australia was by far the most enriching experience I have ever had. Coming from a family where my parents have rarely traveled, the thought of me traveling across the world was a mind-boggling thought. As I arrived in Australia, I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces and places. After four short months, the unfamiliarity of this country became my home. The people I had met and the places I had traveled to helped me become the person I am today. I learned invaluable information about myself and surprised myself on how well I adapted to my new surrounding. I came back to America with a new mindset for this experience gave me a clear vision as to what it means to leave the familiar for the unfamiliar.
         Another trip that has proven to me that there is a new dimension to travelling was my recent trip to Mexico for Global Outreach. A group of us from Campus Ministry set off to Mexico over spring break to immerse ourselves into the culture of Merida, Mexico to do community service. We stayed at the community service center in one of the poorest areas of Merida. This trip was like anything I had ever experienced. I got the chance to help others through hard labor and giving children a rare peace of mind through playing with them. The funny thing is that this act was reciprocal, for I learned more from these individuals than they learned from me. These individuals had such beautiful and positive mindsets although they lived in unfortunate conditions and in unfortunate situations. I came back to American with a completely enriched state of mind and I now live my life with these individuals in my mind. I now do not take anything for granted and I take pleasure in the simple things in life. This, along with my independence that I found in Australia, would never have been possible if I did not have the opportunity to travel.
Bill Collier
6 years 9 months ago
After reading the very enjoyable posts that precede mine, I reached two conclusions. First, Florence seems to be the hot spot for study abroad, (Not surprising! :)) Second, I'd recommend for those adventurous posters/travelers who really want to get to know a culture through and through that they seriously consider the Peace Corps, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Approximately 200,000 Americans (including me...and Paul Theroux) have experienced "The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love" and are much the better for it. 

There are many, many things I could say about the benefits of living in a foreign culture for an extended period of time, but since Dr. Van Ornum has mentioned travel and sprituality, I'll limit my comments to that. I was posted to an isolated area where a missionary priest would come but once a month. Consequently, Sunday Mass was a very big deal. It was always preceded by confessions, and the service itself would last about two hours because of the cultural extras that were part of the Mass, including the most beautiful a capella singing of hymns in the native language that I've ever heard. And no one would rush off when Mass was over. People traveled from far and wide to get to the church, and they ate together and socialized for hours after the service was completed. In short, Sunday Mass was an event in and of itself that people looked forward to and cherished for both spiritual and social reasons. Though there are likely places in the U.S. where Sunday Mass remains such an event, I think for the most part that we have lost the perspective that Mass should be the central focus of our Sundays. The simple but very real faith of the local people that I lived, worked, and prayed with (people who Westerners would pigeonhole as "poor") certainly made a lasting impression on me.    
Kristen Kannengeiser
6 years 9 months ago
#34 Danielle
I completely agree with what you said, it is always great to go on vacations and explore new areas, but I agree with Danielle this traveling can sometimes help you appreciate where you come from. There may be new experiences you enjoyed and learned from but they cannot replace the experiences of your own life. 
Kristen Kannengeiser
6 years 9 months ago
#44 Stephanie
I really enjoyed reading your post! I am a member of Campus Ministry and I am always interested to see pictures and hear about experiences from that trip to Merida. I think it’s great that both groups learned from each other and the experience was something positive that you can always remember. I hope to have an experience like that in the future. Also, wow you are quite the traveler!
Kristen Kannengeiser
6 years 9 months ago
I think this article sparked a great discussion about the importance of travel and the impact it can have on our lives and our spirituality. I found this quote by Mark Twain which I think sums things up nicely, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”. It may not always be easy to step outside your comfort zone and travel or study abroad but it will be something you regret if you don’t. Traveling is essential to understand other people, including their culture and their problems. So many political problems arise in the world today because different people do not understand each other. By spending some time together in each other’s environment maybe we can help bridge the gap of understanding among different nations.
I have had the opportunity to take many trips in my life and I have appreciated them all. Sometimes you can meet the most interesting people just in the airport. It is such a bustling place full of all different types of people heading to all different places for different reasons. One memory from a vacation that shocked me was an experience in Mexico. I was staying at a resort and there was news that a hurricane was coming within the next few days. I was amazed by the courtesy and willingness to help displayed by everyone. Not just the staff members of the hotel, but the local people we met in the local towns. Store and restaurant owners were securing their property and people passing by would offer their help. I felt such a sense of community in that area, no one was just looking out for themselves it was like they were all in the situation together. It was great to see this type of camaraderie even in a time when everyone was nervous.  

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A President Donald Trump supporter is see seen at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office.
Catholic News ServiceJanuary 18, 2018
Pope Francis greets the crowd before celebrating Mass at Lobito beach in Iquique, Chile, Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
“There is no Christian joy when doors are closed; there is no Christian joy when others are made to feel unwanted,” the pope said.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 18, 2018
Men carry a replica of Peru's most revered religious icon, the "Lord of Miracles," during an Oct. 18, 2017 procession in Lima. Each year thousands of Catholics gather to commemorate the image's survival in a 17th-century earthquake that destroyed Lima. (CNS photo/Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
Father Ernesto Cavassa was provincial of the Jesuits in Peru from 1998 to 2004, and president of the Conference of Latin American Jesuit Provincials from 2005 to 2012.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 18, 2018
For over 45 years, Feminists for Life has been committed to ending the practice and legality of abortion and promoting the feminism of Susan B. Anthony.
Serrin M. FosterJanuary 18, 2018