International Travel Gives You Perspective At Home
After a long flight home and getting out of immigration, I entered the international terminal arrival’s hall at LAX to what amounted as pure chaos. A massive crowd had formed. Security began ushering a small group of people towards limos waiting outside. Teenagers were screaming while trying to take photos with their phones. Paparazzi armed with video and professional cameras were furiously taking shots. Any day it can be a chore getting out of Los Angeles International Airport. On this day it was made nearly impossible by a celebrity. Welcome back to the United States of superficial America.
One of the best and underrated parts of travel is how it changes you. People may go to see certain sights or eat good food, but the experience of seeing other cultures shapes your world view in new and exciting ways.
Each trip has affected me in differently. After spending time in Italy, the biggest takeaway was what I learned in another country. It was seeing my own country in a new light. One that wasn’t so pleasant.
Italy has pretty bad wifi compared to many other countries. It fits in with the entire vibe of Italy being lost in time. Italy’s massive tourism industry relies heavily on its glorious past and appears they have decided to stay looking backward instead of forward. Depending on the study you read, it is estimated that between 30% to 40% of Italians do not use the internet. Even so called modern cities like Milan look trapped decades behind cities in other parts of the world. They are old school and it was refreshing to detach from technology.
After having trouble connecting to the internet the first couple of days, I largely gave up and simply absorbed all that Italy had to offer. Being completely immersed in another time and culture had a profound impact. No checking in on Facebook or seeing what the latest thing had the people back home enraged. Instead, I was simply taking in the peace and serenity of being unplugged from the world.
The Coliseum and Roman Forum are great. The Florence Duomo is one of the most mesmerizing buildings I have ever seen. One of my favorite times ever was hiking the Cinque Terre trails. Walking along a magnificent coastline while visiting tiny villages along the way was eye opening. I instantly fell in love with hiking.
After ignoring every tweet and controversy back home for weeks, I returned to the United States and was reminded of the superficial nature of how much of the U.S. economy functions. There had been several new controversies, reasons for American’s do be upset over this or that while I was gone. Nothing though had really changed.
Controversy and being loud garners attention. Outrageousness sells and people keep trying to outdo each other for who can grab the latest headlines. Anger and controversy makes you famous. It is something I no longer want to feed into or be apart of. Digital detoxing reminded me there was a time where it never existed and you can not only survive but thrive without it. America has become an angry place thanks to social media. This trip made me realize the world is not an angry place. It’s a wonderful and beautiful place if you make the choice to look away from the superficial ugliness.