Africa, Azrou, barbary apes, best travel photography, cedar forests, culture, Dar Warda, Fes, food, friendship, Ifrane, Italy, learning, Malgreb, Medina, Mid-Atlas Mountains, Morocco, photography, tea, travel
2011, 2012, adventures, airport, Alpha Chi Omega, architecture, Argentine Tango, art, Art Institute of Chicago, Beartooth Highway, broadcast journalism, Christmas, culture, Europe, experiences, food trucks, France, gelato, Halloween, Italy, KULR-8, learning, love, Montana, Montpellier, Morocco, Nancy Loo, New Year, New Year's Eve, new year's resolutions, photo album, photography, Pic St. Loup, pictures, Project 365, Switzerland, trains, travel, TV, UPS, WGN, wine, Zurich
A year ago today I made the resolution to chronicle my year in pictures. What a year 2011 has been for me.
It was the most drastically different year of my life. New Year’s didn’t include the annual party. Friends and family were rare sightings due to my constant moving. Halloween didn’t involve costumes or parties. Christmas lacked the music and the spirit. Airports and train stations became old friends, and I would be getting freebies at UPS if they had a customer loyalty card.
But 2011 was also the best year of my life. In this year I lived in 5 different cities and traveled to many more. I worked at two TV stations and went to two universities. I had the opportunity for so many new experiences and also reflected on past occasions. I made new friends and lost touch with others. I found and lost love and learned from it. I learned so much about other cultures and my own. I learned to live out of a suitcase but also to appreciate home much more.
2011 has been good to me. I suppose I can always look back on the year I was 21, and say, what a year that was. And of course, now I also have the photographic memory of it (along with thousands of other photos from my travels this year).
I suppose you say this was a Project 365, but unlike others I had no intention of making my album a gallery of great photographs nor making each photograph represent each day. Rather, it was my way of capturing one little thing each day. I admit that on certain days, especially during the latter half of the year, it became a chore to take a picture of something, so sometimes I would just pick something random. And on traveling days, I would often prefer to keep the best photographs for my other albums and leave the second-rate ones for this (sorry). As for keeping the resolution, I missed maybe 3 or 4 days in total.
Thank you, 2011, for everything. Bring it on, 2012.
The full list of cities where the One-A-Day photographs were taken:
Tampa, Chicago, Evanston, Lyndon, Champaign-Urbana, Billings, Laurel, Red Lodge, Huntley, Boyd, Roundup, Crow Agency, Beartooth Highway, Gardiner, Waukegan, Niles, Sacramento, Davis, San Francisco, Houston, Montpellier, Nimes, Carcassonne, Grau-du-Roi, Palavas, Geneva, Lausanne, Luzern, Zurich, Basel, Saint-Jean-de-Vedas, Sete, London, Windsor, Cucugnan, Anduze, Sommiers, Liverpool, Conway, Rome, Florence, Milan, Paris, Fes, Azrou, Avignon, Laverune, Barcelona, Goose Bay
The following present a rough outline was key events of this year. Should you want to see all the photos, they are available in two albums on Facebook.
“The more of the world I see, the better I am as a journalist. … And the more I work as a journalist, the more analytically I view the world as I travel.”
— Bridget O’Brien (1981-2007)
These words describe so well how I feel after these months of intermittent traveling. As I end my four-month sojourn in Europe, I can only express gratitude for having had the opportunity to voyage to so many places and for having changed my life through such an incredible variety of experiences. As Mrs. O’Brien said, my work as journalist prior to my trips here affected how I traveled, and in return, these travels have and will continue to change how I work as a journalist upon my return.
One principle in particular became quite clear to me when I was in Morocco last month. To see the world, one needs only eyes, but to truly comprehend the world, one needs to travel with heart. In short, one needs to be a traveler, not a tourist.
To be a traveler does not mean one must live out of a backpack and a tent and avoid all the landmarks – they are, after all, famous for a reason. It also does not mean that one needs to have the money for opportunities such as swimming with sharks or living among indigenous tribes. It simply means getting off the high horse of being a tourist and experiencing life with the locals, be it striking up a conversation if the language permits, joining in an event or celebration, playing with the local kids, or even starting a dance party in the streets.
People, despite my cynicism at times, are generally good. If only more voyagers would be willing to interact with locals outside of commercial transactions, perhaps locals in tourism cities would be less fatigued by the throngs of people that come and leave their cities, taking away only souvenirs and leaving only trash. Of course, something has to give on both sides. Locals can also be more willing to stop and help, and offer their ideas without trying to sell anything.
Regardless, as visitors, we should bring along our best etiquette to wherever we go. I’ve come up with three little tips, ones that I myself try to follow as well.
1) Language – if you speak the local language, use it. If you don’t, don’t try to force your native language on the locals. It’s one thing if they want to speak to you in your native language and another to arrogantly use your native language and then complain when they don’t understand.
2) Culture – do some research before you go, especially if it’s a place with a culture that’s much different than your own. Keep in mind the cultural differences and adapt to them as much as you can. There’s nothing more offensive than sticking your nose up at other people’s cultures when you’re in their country.
3) Experience – take time to experience life as it is for the locals. Again, this is not to say you have to spend thousands to “imitate” a local’s life, but do venture out of the ordinary tourist areas. Don’t hide behind the tourist wall.
So join me, friends, as travelers, not tourists, and open your eyes and hearts to our wonderfully diverse world.
adaptability, Black Friday, Chipotle, connection, culture, disconnected, family, France, home, Jamba Juice, Michael Buble, Miranda Lambert, Morocco, moving, nomad, peanut butter, roaming, starting over, Tabasco, Thanksgiving, The House That Built Me, travel, United States
It’s a word with which I have struggled with unlike any other. Whenever people ask me where “home” is, I hesitate before answering. On Facebook, I list no hometown.
In the days before I left for Europe, while I was at our new “home,” I listened to Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” with almost obsessive extremity.
That song spoke to me like no other. Perhaps it is a result of my longing for a place to call home, a house that I could one day return to and revisit memories past. (I love Michael Buble’s “Home” as well.)
Many people have told me how jealous they are of me because I get to move to new places all the time and experience new things. While I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the places I’ve lived and all of the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have, especially during this crazy, international year, I can’t help but be jealous of everyone who have a place to call home. A place they know as home without any doubt or hesitations.
I waited until I was in France to write this post because I wanted to see if being abroad would change my mind about where “home.” I still don’t have a clear answer, other than that it is certainly in the United States. I really want to say it is where my family and friends are, but how can I pinpoint that when they are spread out around the country (and indeed, the world)?
Now that Thanksgiving is coming up, I’m heading to a place perhaps as far from home as I’ve ever been in terms of cultural differences. I’ll be having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with other Americans and some Anglophile French, but then heading off to Morocco with friends.
Perhaps it will take that culture shock to make me realize where home is. Until then, I feel connected and disconnected from the world all at the same time. It took me more than a month to realize that the photographs of friends and family I had brought with me to put up were still in their envelope. At that point I figured there was no point. (Today I also found rip-outs of magazine fitness exercises – anyone who’s ever gotten caught up in study abroad craziness knows those were a futile effort.) Beyond friends and family, a lot of people here have also said they miss certain foods and things so terribly much. Many have fallen to buy marked-up jars of peanut butter and miniature bottles of Tabasco sauce. I can’t say I have the same urges. Would I like some Jamba Juice and Chipotle? Yes. Do I absolutely need it? No. Some call it a mark of a person distant and uprooted. I call it a mark of adaptability, passed down through the many generations from my nomadic ancestors.
But I do have to say, I will miss the frenzy that is Black Friday shopping.
Until I find my answers, ciao from your resident nomad on the loose.