A note from the Editor

One goal of higher education is to provide new experiences for students. What better way to do this than travelling internationally?

Growing up in this country, I think it’s hard not to notice the strange countervailing messages our culture inculcates in us about the rest of the world. Our rather sudden transformation into the world’s dominant military and economic power forced a form of cosmopolitanism upon us, out of necessity. Beneath that, however, we still retain a vestigial egoist and almost introverted attitude that characterized our culture prior to the world wars.

This obviously isn’t helped by the fact that we’ve been exporting our culture around the world for many decades now. An American traveling to any major foreign city is going to see a lot of familiar cultural artifacts, and perhaps we take that for granted. As that iconic Rammstein song goes, “Coca-Cola, Wonderbra, we’re all living in America.” Our culture precedes us, in other words.

That’s why it’s so important when traveling abroad to venture beyond the solipsistic tourist destinations and toward the true heart of a foreign culture. The real goal should be to wrap our minds around the distinct perspective formed by the people living there. That perspective has a lot to offer us, if only we take the time to experience it on the native culture’s terms and not our own.

It’s pretty great that the Vermont State Colleges offer so many different opportunities for international travel. Not only are there a multitude of different destinations on offer to choose from, but we also generally get to visit these places along with faculty who have been previously. This helps us students economize our time and energy so that we get the most out of the experience. What would otherwise merely be a vacation is transformed into something that’s educational as well.

While these higher ideals are important, travelling is also simply a lot of fun. Meeting new people, trying new cuisine, seeing new sights, and seeing famous sights with your own eyes are all fine reasons to journey beyond our borders.

The critical objective is that we use our opportunity for travel abroad as a means of expanding our horizons and our minds. Don’t go to a place with your head full of preconceptions of what it will be like; allow yourself to make those judgments. Hollywood is fantastic for entertainment, but it often imposes its artificial image over the real state of things.

There’s a whole world out there. Go forth and explore, but travel lightly and bring back more than just material souvenirs!

–Sam Hartley, Editor-in-Chief