The Travel Paradox
Okay, so you signed up to seekingarrangements.com and found that sugar daddy you always wanted that would pay for your lavish trips. Now what? Congratu-freaking-lations, you just earned yourself a coveted spot in the mile-high club....
Travelling, or vacation for some, goes beyond the shallow waters of open bars, themed discos and three-course buffets with bae. Travel is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with distance or the exotic. It is entirely an inner experience. Weeell, you gon' leaaaarn today.
One thing I've learned - travel is so glamourized and saturated with paradox. It's not as simple as just hopping on a plane and taking a few bikini pics for the Gram.
As students and/or young adults, we have time, but little income, to travel. In college and university, we salivate at the thought of spending "reading week" (who really reads, though) on a tropical beach downing liquid courage and twerking in your new Triangle bikini at a 5 star resort (BASIC if you ask me). Obsessively checking Groupon and Tripadvisor was this year's favourite past time of my roommates and I. We would discuss our Euro2015 trip and act like an indecisive snob, grousing, "But I want to visit 5 countries, not one!" LOL. BUT WHERE'S THE MONEY THOUGH? It was all a dream. As a full time undergraduate student, I knew my part time, Sephora working ass could not afford a Europe trip in the upcoming months. But, I still acted like I could. Yes, we may have the time to travel, but we more than likely do not have the funds. On the other hand, as adults, we may have the money, but do not have the time. I mean, how could one plan a trip while juggling raising children, working full time and paying the bills?
Aren't we supposed to travel to escape our problems? To escape the brain numbing 9-5? To escape the exploitative daily machine? To escape the manipulative "utilitarian" system of Capitalism? If so, everyone would be travelling, right? Wrong. Often, travel perpetuates the capitalist system we try to run away from. Travel feeds both the want and need to work because of it's high cost. Tourism is a BOOMING multimillion dollar industry. It's not rocket science.. you need money to travel.
"Yes boss, of course I'll work overtime every day this week because I love both you and YOUR company so very much."
*Calls the squad*
"Ugh, I can't turnup in the club this weekend 'cuz I gotta work. But don't worry, the way my work schedule is going, I'll be ready for Miami juuuuust now."
So if you want to travel to get away from work, think again. Your prospective trip will have you working those long hours, hating life, for quite some time. My entire summer was basically spent as a full time slave, but I guess it was all worth it. This year, I travelled with friends to Chicago for the first time . After my university graduation this past June, I was able to travel to New York City on two different occasions and, as a birthday gift to myself, spent 2.5 weeks in London, England. My travels taught me I could literally do anything and go anywhere I dream of, with a sacrifice of sleep and a social life. It was an unforgettable inner experience. A feeling of euphoria at it's highest peak. Work hard, swap your kush money for a plane ticket, and thank me later.
THE PARADOX OF OTHERNESS - You know I had to cop that foreign.
In travel, each conceives the "other" to be a foreigner. Or in other words, a stranger. In my personal experiences, otherness can be, somewhat, analogous to disability; A chaos. An unwarranted exhibition with no caption. A canvas left for satirical interpretation. I can best compare the role of the foreigner to that of a docile child. A child is born into a "strange" country and does not understand the language. Although the child already had a language, it has yet to acquire this one. The newborn child is helpless; infantile. This is what the foreigner feels in a strange country. Everything that was once familiar, is quickly stripped away, leaving nothing but a disability.
Why is every Korean staring at me? Welp, probably because of my big curly afro, dark skin and English slang. I'M A FUCKING CANCER OUT HERE. It's both depressive and beautiful. Enlightening and ignorant. The other and the traveller develops a symbiotic relationship. One that will shape both your identity and your entire travelling experience. I gain knowledge from you, the "other", and you gain knowledge from me. If I help someone overcome ignorance and learn about another culture, my job is done. And, with my experience living in one of the most homogenous countries in the world, Korea, and having my students blatantly refuse to believe that I am from Canada, ("No Chelsea teacher, you are from Africa. Why is your skin black?") I've come to realize that some people simply have not been exposed to the "other" and are comfortably living in their familiar ignorant bubble.
Now, let me leave you with this totally unrelated music video to highlight my love for Justin Bieber and inspiration for writing this blog because I want to travel to Iceland now. HOW GOOD IS HIS NEW ALBUM, PURPOSE, THOUGH?