Recently I travelled out of the country to visit my brother who is studying abroad at NUIG, Galway. It had been a dream of mine while in college to study abroad in Ireland, and though I never got the chance due to personal reasons, I was ecstatic to have the chance to at least visit while my brother enjoyed his time there. I had an absolute blast, and was able to view the city in a way that was not entirely touristy but not entirely local either. We weren’t able to rent a car, so my brother and I were forced to walk everywhere. It rained a ton, and because of my timing I spent a lot of time accompanying my brother to classes and walking aimlessly around his campus. Some of the highlights included attending an all-Irish language mass at the Galway Cathedral, striking souvenir gold at the Galway Market, and attending a Metallica cover band concert at Kelly’s on a Friday night. I even got to spend one of my brother’s off days hanging out in the National Irish Museum in Dublin, which was super eye-opening on several levels.
I really do enjoy traveling, though I don’t do it too often. I think everyone should travel at least once or twice in their life. Up to now, I’ve gone to a couple of different states (Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Florida and California), and a couple of different countries (Juarez, Mexico, Kakamega and Nairobi, Kenya, Ethiopia, and now Dublin and Galway in Ireland). Each time I’ve gone in to the situation with all of the expectations of the culture, of how things will go, of what I will do, etc. And each time I’ve had my perspective altered, I’ve learned to re-orient myself.
Other benefits of travelling aside, I honestly think that this is probably the number one reason why I think travelling is important. It’s one thing to do the work of learning about different cultures, to research and do one’s best to understand others. It’s an entirely different thing to be alongside said culture, even for a small amount of time. I learned a ton about my heritage that I would have (and have) heard differently through the lens of Irish-American culture and the culture of diaspora. I was able to de-center myself from the culture’s narrative and appreciate it in a more comprehensive light.
As with all other life experiences, I hope that this will make me a better writer. A better person. I am grateful for the experiences I have been blessed enough to have, and hope to use them to their utmost.
What are your thoughts on traveling?