As I continue to meet travelers venturing solo, I can’t help but 1. be inspired to go it alone, and 2. realize the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that still exists.
From my curious-22-year-old-New-Yorker-study-abroad-college-student-point-of-view,
America, home of the individualistic society, what makes going to a new country any different than going away to college alone? Remember that euphoric feeling once you moved to a new school in a new place without knowing a soul, and 2 weeks later had friends? Yea I get that every time I spend a weekend in a new hostel. It’s like freshman year all over again. People from everywhere on earth high on life, curious, and willing to share and learn and explore our world, who you have at least 2 things in common with because 1.you’re both here and 2.you both came from somewhere else.
Granted, I have been in only 5 countries in my life , 4 in a matter of 3 months, but it seems life is becoming harder to live a sedentary life, and it took me having to leave to realize this. It’s not 1980 anymore America, we’re not our parents. What 22 year old has enough money to put a down payment on a house??? My parents bought my house and already had a kid 2 years older than I am now… I can barely pay off my college loans let alone think of living in my own place or taking care of another being. This is the case in New York at least, and even Spain. When I asked the 15 year girl I tutor English, why she wants to speak at least 5 languages, she replied to me “We’re in Crisis, we will probably have to leave the country to find work, so we should know the language.” At 15, I was just starting my first job at a bakery working and going to school to get good grades for nearby college in hopes of a career.
[Students don’t work in Spain- college is their “career” until they graduate and move on to make money]
As a senior in college, I was working about 45 hours a week minimum to take 25 hours of classes and still living at home, with a great chance that that career wont pay more than what I make now. 70+ work hours a week, for a few years will make you crazy when your strongest relationships are with the people you work with and wait on. These people will always have a place in my heart, don’t get me wrong, but 15 repetitive hours a day together sometimes 5 days a week is a bit rough at 21. I was hungry starving to live, to experience, to wake up for something more than being Victoria, that nice waitress who’s good at serving food and pretending to be excited to do it. Survival of the fittest, and I my friend, was dying.
Human instinct: when you’re starving, hunt for nutrition. The semester I decided to study abroad was like milk to a baby. There’s an infinite amount of life styles out there and being surrounded by a new one is euphoric. From raising livestock and growing your own vegetables in green fields behind tiny pueblos, to thousands of shops filled with gremios of artisans selling handmade goods in the oldest Medina in the world, I’ve had the opportunity to time travel back to the 8th century, and see first hand the arabs and berbers I read about in history books. “The school of life”; I learned more about that culture than anyone could have taught me in a book. I learned why the Moroccans speak 5 languages, and that they go to the desert to clear their mind and fantasize as the moon illuminates thousands of grains of sand, one at a time, and riding themselves of negative energy. Inshallah.
Simple conversations with people who are so different yet not, taught me something about my own life that I couldn’t have learned submersed in the life I have lived for 22 years. This is the reason why we travel. You can sit at home and read Freud or history books until your eyes fall out and wonder why we are here, but until you go out and see that continent where ‘humans originated’ or the oldest city in the world for yourself you can’t begin to wrap your mind around it. It is important to know where we came from, like an adopted child looking for it’s birth parents. Coming from a newborn country, going out and finding information from people who carry the culture of their ancient ancestors is like discovering an ancient artifact.
It also made me appreciate where I come from. America isn’t the only materialistic society, it’s not even the culture that spread materialism. In fact, it’s something that has been around since before America was even developing in the womb. I can’t tell you why this way of life exists, but I can tell you ideas and cultures like this have spread like diseases through the air. Be a part of a pack or a lone wolf, whether we wear jilabas or business suits we’ve all got something in common,. We’re all hunting and gathering to survive. Hunting for that nutrition to grow, and gathering to prolong survival.