I don’t know how much Europe really influenced my zeitgeist (/worldview/opinions/whatever). Europe was a circuit tour where I always felt like my face was up against a pane of (metaphorical) glass. And, honestly, there’s something isolating and experiential in existing in a neutral zone between cultures (yours and your ‘host’s’). It feels as though your walk changes, your eyes scan at a different pace, and one’s soul tenses. I find cities always feel something like this. Yet in a culturally familiar country one is concealed: abroad, this same sensation exposes a person. You feel as though a part of your being is revealed, open, displayed before eyes recreating you with guttural and romantic language systems you can’t hope to intuit. One becomes aware (in both situations) of the existential gaps in understanding, thought, and meaning between any two individuals, and how deep these chasms truly are.
But in the same breath, there’s a comfort in being removed from place. Certain habits of thought, quirks of personality, and routines of action loosen when you can’t hope to expect what the people around you care for or how they consider you. If you can work through the pressure something unwinds from your perspective on reality. The contours of the world relax and the horizon widens. Familiar sights, once a comfort, are like blinds released and you feel as though you can see the world as you ought to. What I’m saying is simple: one becomes more in tune with their place on this planet once they lose the social cues and expectations they’ve thrived upon since birth. Despite the angst, this can be wonderful.