For those of you who have never been outside the country, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Other places are just like the place that you’re from, except no one understands you, most of them don’t like you, and you will get the squirts. To be fair, that last one is the only part I can guarantee. It may not happen immediately, but sooner or later, your dinner will come rocketing out the other side. The only real upside to travelling (in my own personal experience) is that it allows me to talk down to people who have not, i.e., you.
Despite everything I just said, you can learn a lot about yourself when you travel. For example, I do not like travelling. I’m way too anxious and sweaty to be in a country where they might as well be speaking Mandarin (and some of them probably were). I basically just volunteered to be a minority for a year. And no, I’m not saying I know what it’s like to be a minority, because as a semi-attractive white person, you never go full mino.* That’s how you end up on the news without a head. You want small doses, like people staring at you because they’ve never seen a white person in person; or being the most illiterate person at McDonald’s–when even children are staring at you like you’re a moron.
My problem is that when chaos ensues, my first instinct is panic, which is not ideal when travelling alone. I thought I left my wallet in a cab in South Korea, and before I had even checked all of my pockets, I started to consider prostitution, as reassurance: “Calm down, Andy. You’re exotic here, bud. Start doing squats now, and that pasty little starfish of yours could feth a nice price. Everything is gonna be fine.”
Aside from panic being my default, I also learned that I don’t need to go places I’ve never been to see things I’ve never seen. That’s what the internet is for. The internet has everything: pictures of volcanoes, people who masturbate for money, harry potter. It’s all there. Do you know what’s not on the internet? The panic you feel when you leave your wallet in a taxi that was covered in a language you cannot read. The surprise of finding out that the young lady you’ve been pumping drink into is not, in fact, a genetic female. Or the confusion in learning that that last piece of information is not necessarily a dealbreaker. So yeah, you’ll ‘discover’ some things about yourself, but are you sure you want to know?
There are things I didn’t learn too (namely, their language). It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just didn’t have to. Because Korean is useless on 98% of the planet. It’s mainly spoken in two countries, and one of them is not a whole lot of fun. By comparison, English is arguably the most useful language in the world, a fact that I’m not sure we truly appreciate. These Korean kids are sacrificing their entire childhood to learn a language into which we put almost no effort. The only things I put less thought into are blinking, breathing, and getting boners. In that order. English is so useful that you could be a toothless yokel from the most illiterate state in the union, go to almost any part of the world, and at least get by. Even if it is just to say “hello”, “thank you”, or “please-don’t-cut-my-head-off” just before they cut your head off.
They’re not going to listen to you, but they’ll get the gist.
*I know…your first instinct is racism. But, while “mino” may sound like a racial slur, it’s actually a statistical term, so I can shorten it as I please…dick.