I usually wander around Europe with someone who knows where they are going. My sense of direction is terrible and my map skills questionable, so wandering around an unfamiliar city today, alone with just a map, taught me something useful: you need to know where you are in order to know how to get to your destination. AND suddenly finding you present position on a city map may be difficult if you haven’t been paying attention to where you are going. This new piece of information struck a chord with my thoughts on the specifically academic side of the trip. In the middle of all the “experiential learning,” which is key to our travel term, we are encountering information and ideas – anywhere from WWI political history to surrealism in art. These silently ask us to responsibly consider what influence they have on the world and humankind – their effectual destination. This in itself is challenging, both personally, and as a group where opinions vary greatly, but in looking for the thought or event’s destination on the map of human existence you begin to realize that you first need to find your own position on that map – your own point of view. And so, consciously or not, the question turns inward. This self-reflective understanding becomes like knowing your spot on the map; it gives you a lighter mind and freer step in heading toward your destination – be it the bus station, or a political opinion.

Kate

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