Monday, September 28, 2009

"Well that's very cosmopolitan of you"

As an avid traveler, and yes I'm saying this because I think it adds to my cosmopolitan mystique, I really enjoyed reading about Bruce Robbins's views of cosmopolitanism in our modern world. Although he covered some serious ground in regards to the current definition of cosmopolitanism and its implications in our global culture, I couldn't help but compare his thoughts about travel to my own experiences abroad and those of my friends. When Robbins states "the word cosmopolitan immediately evokes the image of a privileged person: someone who can claim to be a 'citizen of the world' by virtue of independent means, expensive tastes, and globe-trotting lifestyles." I asked myself- why do many people feel the need to tell others about their foreign exploits? Does it come from a desire to share their personal lives with people they think will appreciate stories of foreign travel? Is it because the price of gas has gone up, thus everyone recognizes that plane tickets have become more expensive, so one must have extra cash in order to travel- boosting the image of economic wealth? Reading Robbins has really helped me to reflect more on this subject, and I do believe that traveling and knowledge of foreign cultures has gained a connotation of sophistication and intellectuality through the constant progress of globalization and multiculturalism, but I argue that this connotation does not apply to the tourist (whose globe-trotting, exotic lifestyle he describes). Many typical tourist vacations involve expensive spa treatments, extravagant meals, getting lei-ed upon arrival, and shelling out hundreds for a room with an ocean view and showing the photographic proof upon return (this, of course, is a generalization). The intellectual stigma of travel can be applied more precisely to the nomad or exotic who choses to roam the globe without any specific destination and writes about his/her escapades upon finally settling in a location. What about those travelers who don't write books about their voyages or create over-the-top blogs complete with pictures taken with the natives and full itineraries and maps? What is their stigma? Do they even have one if they don't vocalize their adventures? Is the concept of adventure the same without the vocalization of a self-reflection upon returning to the homeland? I think the next time I travel, maybe I won't tell anyone. Just to see if it feels any different.

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