When was the last time you or your friends visited a foreign country, armed with a map in one hand and a foreign-language phrase-book in the other, as you tried to figure out where the next museum, bridge or mountain peak is?
In my experience asking this question to students at CSUN, the answer is never — they have rarely, if ever, ventured outside the United States, let alone California.
I find that unfortunate as an international student. One of the many reasons I came from Ukraine to the United States for college was to experience a completely different culture and learn from it. Traveling is an important and irreplaceable part of life.
Younger Americans have lost the travel itch compared to their predecessors, according to the New York Times. The March article describes those with this behavior as the “Go-Nowhere Generation,” which includes college educated Americans, as well as those without high-school degrees.
“According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit,” the writers, Todd G. and Victoria Buchholz claimed. “Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.”
Why is our generation so reluctant to get out and go to explore our planet, which has so much to offer?
The article suggests that technological innovations have something to do with it. The writers cite a University of Michigan Transportation Institute study, which found a correlation between a person’s Internet use and his or her likelihood of getting a driver’s license.
“Of particular note was the finding that a higher proportion of Internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate,” stated the study. “This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.”
It is disappointing to know that many young Americans don’t seem to have the desire to explore something new without using their laptops or phones. They have stopped travelling with their feet and surf the net instead, but they are missing out on experiences they could never have in virtual reality.
The world is full of unique things. Nothing can compare to the surreal experience of diving into the Red Sea and swim side-by-side with colorful, exotic tiny fish or the peaceful experience of welcoming the sunrise, while jogging barefoot on a sandy shore on the island of Haiti. There is no replacement for the feeling of greatness and power evoked by the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, designed by genius architect Antonio Gaudi. There are few sights that can compare to the ancient and mystical Giza Pyramids and famous Sphinx in Egypt.
There are plenty of places in America that are also awe-inspiring and perhaps even life-changing. Nothing can match up to a feeling of freedom and closeness to the skies when you are at the top of the mountains somewhere in Yosemite or Grand Canyon. In Times Square, you feel so small in the big concrete jungle of New York, but the moment you get up to the top of the Empire State Building and see the luminous world under your feet, you feel free.
California has plenty to offer, as well, you just need to be open to take it. Each city in the Golden State has its own unique atmosphere and attitude. It only takes six hours to drive north to San Francisco, one of the most unique cities in the country. It is so different that it almost gives you a feeling of visiting a foreign country — tiny streets with a variety of architectural designed houses, a seafront promenade with 40 different piers and of course that iconic golden bridge that shines beautifully at sunset.
Some might defend their sedentary life choices on the poor economy or because they do not have the finances to get out of town. I have been to the places mentioned above, and believe me, I don’t have a hefty income. My parents are not millionaires and will never be, but we love to travel. Our top priorities include getting to see and to know as many places as we can.
Most people I know don’t set aside any money for a travel fund. I always think of the money many spend on coffee every morning or on expensive food, much of which they seem to throw out every week. I am not suggesting that we stop drinking coffee or eating good food — God knows how much I love coffee. I just think that people actually do have money to travel, but they just don’t prioritize it as just as important as other things in their lives.
Some people spends hundreds of dollars on clothes or shoes or video games without a thought, but cringe at the idea of paying the same amount for a place ticket. Do they really think that adding another pair of shoes to their closet will replace traveling experience? No, nothing can.
If it’s necessary, I will sacrifice my desire to buy a new iPhone (not that I have this desire) in order to go to Mexico, because I know it will help my young soul and spirit to grow. It will give me the energy to live through another day and to know that someday I’ll see something new.
No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or chatting and playing games while sitting at home can give you all of that. Virtual reality is not reality at all and pales in comparison to the real world, so turn away from your computers and start living.
— Julia dreams of visiting every single country during her life, but for now the next place she wants to see is Ireland, a place of highlands and stories about eternal life, charms and Druids.