Archive for May 7th, 2007

TDT’s Why We Travel: Reason #3

Reason #3: People

Seattle-based hip hop group Blue Scholars lyricizes in their track ‘Sagaba’ that “we hardly know ourselves if we know nobody else.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Against the backdrop of family and old friends, it’s easy for us to settle into an idea of who we really are. But it is in meeting people from other places, who perhaps hold entirely different values and whose life experiences resemble nothing of our own, that we are forced to flesh out a new understanding of self and develop our own philosophy.

At a pre-study abroad seminar I attended, a speaker likened this process to the putting together of two triangles – in order to become close, we must sometimes flip ourselves upside down.

But another aspect of meeting people in this world is learning that beyond the superficial, at the core we are perhaps not so different. Sometimes, this truth is expressed in the simplest of ways.

When I was living in Seoul, I once heard my Korean neighbor playing electric guitar. A few days later, we got to talking while he was in the hall (he had heard me playing acoustic), and he invited me to check out his CD collection; I was stunned to see one of my favorite bands – Hi Standard – among the albums. A few nights later we went out for drinks and chatted about music, girls, and politics. Though we struggled a bit with non-native tongues (it seemed to get easier the more we drank) our conversation felt entirely familiar, like one I might have with an old friend in a Seattle coffee shop.

My as of yet limited travels have wonderfully entangled me with networks of new friends, some of whom I know I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. It’s mind-blowing to think that I would have never met many of the people who are so valuable in my life had I never thrown myself out into the world.

I imagine it’s this drive to meet people that pushes many of us to travel on – after all, the beauty of earth’s destinations truly rests not in marvelous buildings or unfamiliar streets, but within the stories and cultures of their inhabitants.

Happy Travels!


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