Who Will I Be Here?

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 1. Anticipation, Washington DC by DanielaLeave a Comment

Hi everyone, my name is Daniela. I’m a third year student concentrating in Philosophy, Psychology, and Political Science at Gallatin. My interest in politics has brought me to Washington, DC as I strive to make some real world connections and learn about the sector I would like to be a part of one day: government. While I’m here, I hope to learn more about myself and my abilities, what makes me passionate as well as what my limits are and how I function in the workplace. As of this moment, I’m looking for an internship that can provide me with the experience I need to decide what I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life. The task is daunting and may seem impossible at the moment, but eventually we all have to move forward or get swept away by the tide.

I’ve begun to anticipate many things as I near graduation, one of them being what I’m supposed to have achieved by the time I leave NYU and float around for the first time without any attachment to any institution. Once on my own, what is it that I should know? What do adults know? As existential as it may sound, I don’t think a handbook exists for that and it is extremely intimidating. Travel can be an amazing way to learn how to exist without the comforts of home and having spent a semester in Florence and a summer in Paris all within the past year, I’ve felt more uncomfortable and lost than I ever thought I could feel. At times, I also felt alone and undervalued as a citizen of the world and those hits to your ego are hard to shake when you’ve left everyone behind in search of something, whether it’s cultural enrichment or a new landscape.

In my experience, travel is less about love and romance and more about making yourself feel uncomfortable on purpose. There are many different ways you may feel yourself an outsider while traveling to places you’ve never been with people you don’t know very well, which is what my study abroad experience was centered around two semesters ago. While I had some of the best times of my life, they were surrounded by times where I didn’t feel sure of myself or why I had decided to abandon comfort and spend so much time somewhere new.

Pico Iyer seems to think that travel has as many elements as there are places to travel and in that I believe he is correct. Traveling can feel like many different things and can feed different needs in each person that participates in it. Whether you are traveling somewhere near or far, it is an experience contrary to repeating the same patterns day in and day out, the only real opposite to traveling. In this sense, traveling to Washington, DC, although it is remarkably close to my home, is travel nonetheless. I have not left the country but am experiencing a new and unique place, one that doesn’t smell like pee and overcrowding (yet). Physical space is not what is dictating the extent of this travel, but what the spaces contain, in this case: the political hub of the country and in some sense the world at this moment.

Alain de Botton, on the other hand, brings up a good point about what I have experienced on previous trips when one travels for too long. The sparkle and novelty of a location can only last as long as the traveler is willing to cloud themselves in the fog of their new favorite place. As soon as one attempts to see this new location for what it is to those who inhabit it, it becomes just a different version of home that parallels the one they’ve just left.


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