The well-travelled mind is an arbitrary yet omniscient concept that is sought after by the intellectually intrigued individual. It is inversely related to ignorance and entitlement. This is because it is seen as an eye-opener, travelling places you in a situation entirely new and forces you to adapt, which allows you grow, gain confidence, and build your understanding of humanity. Words often can only capture how we have interpreted what we experience while we are here. While some are better than others at writing their emotions down, I would like to believe that anyone that travels and really takes a look at the culture begins to gain the feeling of worldliness. I write to you today having just arrived home from Vienna, which was absolutely stunning to see. You could clearly see the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s influence seeing as it was the central power in Europe and had acquired massive amounts of wealth. The buildings were staggering, ornate, and classic. Having the ability to contrast the two nations, Hungary and Austria based on their capital cities. Vienna clearly had a more western and diverse feel. Being the larger and wealthier of the two, it has attracted a far wider array of individuals, and has a much more accepting feel. This where you can see the economic influence on diversity, people are drawn to where there is opportunity for success and wealth. Budapest, while much better than it was underneath the socialist regime, it still has a lot of growth to do. The immigration to Budapest is largely from its own citizens seeking work; they say that nearly 80% of the business people in Hungary live in the city. In contrast, Vienna clearly had a greater pull that went beyond its own borders to other nations around the world, which led to an air of acceptance that comes from increased diversity. Visibly there were differences in the social norms; there were women in hijabs, gay couples holding hands on the street, Indian shop owners, Asian tourists as well as residents. In large these are things that you will not as commonly see in Budapest. I believe that proximity to other cultures and races drive up acceptance, it is only in isolation that we have created a disdain for one another. Yet it is this exact reason why I believe it is important to travel, and develop the well-travelled mind. You will begin to realize what true tolerance is and get to learn about cultures that you would never see had you stayed home. This could never have been more important in a moment in history than it is right now. One of the largest issues in the world right now is the recent uptick in nationalism and how it contrasts with globalism. We are becoming more and more connected and now it is no longer simply economic drivers that bring us together but technology as well which is rapidly accelerating the diffusion of cultures. At this breakdown is where we see the largest amount of conflict as people try to hold dearly onto what it is that makes them themselves, their culture. As people hold tightly onto their own culture they begin to see others as a threat. Ergo the animosity towards immigrants, believing that somehow there is a difference between one another. What people don’t realize is that the culture that they are a part of is volatile and constantly changing and growing. Often they are influenced by outsiders, but this does not mean that the new conglomeration of cultures has taken away from who you are. While I believe it is important to document and maintain a record of these changes so that we can preserve them in history, it is impossible to completely stop this diffusion. As the global population, communication and travel tech, all continue to grow we are going to move towards less and less individual cultures and rather a melting pot of them. If you want proof of my claim you can go to almost any city in western civilization; New York City, Amsterdam, London. All of which have become a melting pot of cultures, while they still maintain their own unique culture each have influences from around the world. Travelling has personally opened my eyes, and given me a new perspective on cultural diffusion, it is my hope and belief that the world would be a more understanding place if everyone had this opportunity.
Now in my previous entry I mentioned the comparison between the American experience and the experience of someone in a country that is void of human rights violations. Above is how I have come to see the world, which I believe to be a healthy discovery and beneficial to myself. Yet I notice that not everyone has gained this world view, which is understandable we are all unique individuals. Not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions or purpose for studying abroad. This is one of the largest misconceptions about students who study abroad. The assumption that each of us are looking for a worldly growth. This is often the expectation of which ever university you are studying at, your peers, or even your parents. This more likely than not in my experience the reason why most of those that are around me study abroad. Everyone has their own type of growth that they are seeking and because of this they can be misconstrued as selfish. Each individual has his or her own struggle and this is their source of development. To say that someone isn’t well travelled because they do not have this idea of global responsibility imbued upon is simply unfair and undermines what it may have taken to get each individual there and back. Global responsibility is extremely important and the goal of most academically focused students, yet it is not necessarily the goal of most. What defines the American experience I have come to realize is this idea of impressing our values on someone else. We are expected to simply fit this mold, and then be happy. This has been proven throughout history to be a terrible method for achieving happiness, mimicking someone else’s and claiming it as your own. Developing, defining, and achieving your own success and happiness is the only real way to achieve this.