Several months ago, someone you probably all know and love in a sort of a lukewarm way asked me to write this column, as he was giving up his post for the less important job of being editor. After months of procrastinating on my 800 character limit, here it is. I’m Stephanie. I’m a junior English and Theology major. Everyone knows mentioning your age isn’t important unless you’re 21, so I won’t. I live in Pittsburgh, just like all of you who live in the suburbs 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh say you do. I like cats, and not people. I volunteer at the Humane Society so that I can spend time around these superior beings, and not people. Oh, and I had a summer. I spent a month in India over break. You know, that place that everyone pretends to want to visit but ends up going to England or Australia or something instead. You know, those countries that are exactly like the United States. Anyway, I was set to stay there until the beginning of August. Given that this was my very first trip out of the country, I was wildly excited. I bought a few overpriced travel guides from Barnes & Noble, a new suitcase and a camera, so I could take all these candid photos of myself and all my new friends. And so I could post of them internet, and people could go, “Whoa. She’s popular. Look at all the fun she’s having! My life pales in comparison.”
My grand adventure began with one of the things that I hate most: flying. I absolutely hate airplane travel, even for short periods of time. My flight to Paris was just short of eight hours; my flight from Paris to India, just under ten. Between upgraded seating to first class, my heated blanket, complimentary beverages and TV screens with hundreds of movies and TV shows, getting comfortable was impossible, and things were really terrible for a while. I did, however, meet a nice Iranian man on the flight to India. He told me he came to live in the United States because his country was incredibly repressive and dangerous (hopefully a joke) but that he was returning because he missed his homeland and his people (probably a joke). He was wearing an Ed Hardy shirt, which was definitely a joke. He spent the next few hours rattling off the names of every exotic beach he’d been to.
Meeting him was a reminder of how overrated world travel can be. Don’t get me wrong—traveling is a wonderful, and at times necessary, tool for expanding one’s mind and worldview. I don’t know where we would be today if Snoop Dogg (or should I say Snoop Lion, as he is now called) hadn’t spent 35 days in Jamaica convincing himself that he is the reincarnation of a musician known for smoking marijuana and becoming the Dane Cook of college posters. (We all have that one Bob Marley poster to go along with that one song we know.) I mean, those 35 days have just changed music forever— the forever changed Snoop Lion and his smash single “No Guns Allowed” will surely convince everyone that, indeed, no guns are allowed. But when you start talking about how “the beaches of Oman are just to die for,” I start wondering if you can name a single fact about that country or point to it on a map. (Let’s be honest, none of you could find Uganda on a map either. Kony 2012 really accomplished its goal.) Traveling should be about opening your eyes to new ways of life and all that good stuff, not about spouting off the names of all the places that you’ve been—which, by the way, is a great way of showcasing your budding insecurity.
My Iranian friend asked if I had enjoyed the layover in Paris. Given that I don’t speak croissant, I expressed my indifference, which nearly shocked his Ed Hardy shirt back into some other pretentious guy’s closet. When he asked about trips I’d been on in the past, I mentioned my 2004 trip to Sea World. He didn’t seem that impressed.