Literally the second I was about to write about day 186, I got a comment on another blog post that left me thinking. The post was talking about hanging out with my American friends here in Sydney, which is basically what I was going to maybe write about for day 186 because it was yet another celebration for the Fourth of July (an awesome holiday). So, instead of talking about the taco dip, the bagels, the ping pong and Corona beer that made up my evening — an evening enjoyed by American, Australian and British people all at once — I decided that I would respond more thoroughly to this comment by Zoe.
“Sorry Brooke, but why do you want to travel half way around the world to hang out with people from the country you left? Why not just stay home?”
Wow, okay, where to start? At first I was really taken aback by this comment, like someone was being critical of me choosing to have American friends while living in Australia. After a couple of comments, I found out that the person was focusing on my final statement of the post, made completely in passing in my mind:
“It was at this event that I learned that Sydney is apparently swarming with Americans, so come on down fellow Yanks! You’ll fit right in.”
To this comment, Zoe responds:
“It sounds to me like you are promoting Australia as somewhere that Americans can hang out with other Americans? Thats the equivalent of an Australian travelling to Earl’s Court in London just to hang out with other Australians.
Its just like being at home but with a funny accent and wierd post codes. Where’s the fun, adventure and travel experience in that?”
First off, I would never suggest that someone travel to another country solely to hang out with people from their own country. Never… it’s just not how I roll. I understand now how someone can read into that sentence and come to this conclusion, but I did not mean it like that in the least. I love a good cultural adventure as much as the next person; I’ve had my fair share.
However, I got to thinking about this topic and felt like it was a good one to elaborate on.
Finding your countrymen abroad can actually, in my opinion, add to an overall travel experience.
I have found myself in the circle of an extremely awesome group of Americans here in Sydney, and it has made the holidays (that would be back home) so much more enjoyable. Just because you leave a country doesn’t mean you don’t miss it.
Furthermore, I think that meeting countrymen abroad puts you in touch with people you can really relate to, especially ones you may not meet in your hometown. They are generally going through similar experiences and can give advice, they know what you’re missing from home and they just might end up being a long-time friend. Take Erica. I met Erica in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan back in 2008 of all places in this big world, and now I look forward to seeing her again this November back in Bishkek (ooh secret’s out!). Would I have met her while spending time in Peoria, IL? Probably not.
Does hanging out with my countrymen abroad make my travels less fun, less adventurous and less of a travel experience? No way. It all just depends on how you define adventure and a good travel experience. Adventurous to some might be trying the local cuisine in a local’s house, while others might say adventure is when you’re climbing an active volcano or jumping out of a plane. We all have our own opinions of what travel should be…
But, it doesn’t mean it’s right OR the only way. If I wanted to come to Australia and do nothing but sit on the beach for days on end, not once taking into a conversation with a local, that is totally my prerogative — especially if it makes me happy.
There is no right or wrong. Whether you carry a backpack, lug a suitcase, stay in fancy hotels or jump from couch to couch — while it may be different — there is no right or wrong.