I bounce between passionate feelings for two extreme travel-related options:
- Localized societies and economies and bioregionalism are the only sustainable way for society to progress. We need to produce everything we need from food to furniture locally, eliminate fossil fuel guzzling transportation, and invest more in our local communities. Our jobs, family, and societies shouldn’t be something we need to “get away” from and we should find fulfilling leisure activities locally that are not only carbon neutral, but also contribute to the quality of the local ecosystem and society. We need to change our runaway culture, and make our homes and cities places we want to stay.
- Travel is the ultimate teacher. Global understanding and peace is only achievable through meaningful cultural exchange. Study abroad, volunteering on foreign farms, and living with host families gives insight into the diversity of humanity like no other experience. Isolation is dangerous from the individual level to the nation state level. One can learn so much about other cultures, appreciate the natural beauty in the world, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their home culture (cheesey, but I swear to blob it’s true) through travel. Also it’s just so darn fun!
I am of two minds, but today I feel the pull to travel. If you are feeling the same way, and aren’t too crushed by environmentalist guilt to indulge, check out these movies and TV shows that have inspired me to explore the world:
I am obsessed with this show. This is a Netflix original that does not get enough credit for its genius. The premise of this show is that the 8 characters show have become linked psychically and while they are trying to figure out the why’s what’s and how’s of their connection to these strangers across the world, they are also being hunted down by a mysterious organization (in addition to the personal dramas in their lives). There are many reasons love this show, the plausible sci fi, the awesome action, the romances and sexy scenes, the excellent character development and story arcs. But my favorite part of this show is that it is all filmed on site. You see all the countries these people are from and watch them move through their distinct cultures and landscapes. This show is so beautiful because these characters with nothing in common grow to care for each other because they see through each others eyes and feel each others emotions. They provide support and understanding even though stereotypes, geographic divides, and cultural differences would likely tear them apart in any other circumstance. I find it very affirming of the human experience. There are also super cool fight scenes.
I haven’t watched this movie in a while, but I remember it being a right on the nose about what it can be like being an American abroad. You might have seen a cheesey spin-off on American TV several years ago. I’m happy to report this movie is more understated and intelligent than the show (though I did find the show fun when it was on the air). In the film, Midwestern Todd has to move to India to manage a call center. In additional to cultural bumblings and figuring out a new work environment a cute romance ensues with an Indian woman who works in the call center, accompanied with all the cultural baggage you would expect in that situation. As someone who usually despises romantic comedies, I can say this one charmed me. It’s a good film to watch if you’re nervous about studying abroad.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
If Outsourced is subtle and realistic, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the opposite in all the best ways. This movie follows the consistent and some might even say boring Walter Mitty who has fantastic exciting daydreams. Mitty’s life quickly gets more exciting in real life as his job of 16 years starts going through drastic changes that put him on the spot and of course he wants to impress a female coworker. The imagery in this film is very well done and it will make you want to live a more exciting life. The plot is sensational, but it is balanced by the subtle and personal performances from Ben Stiller and Kristie Wig. It’s a fun film.
Sometimes we all have to laugh at ourselves. I wouldn’t say this show is amazing, but Andy Samberg’s character in the first season is priceless. He is the perfect caricature of the world traveling, drug enthusiast, puka shell necklace and headdress wearing hippy you meet (or some of you may even be) in your travels. He is self righteous in all the wisdom he’s gained in his travels, absurd, and living with his new wife’s family in small town UK. He may inspire you to travel, make you laugh about the absurd experiences you’ve had yourself, or might just turn you off from the whole scene.
This post is a bit off topic for my usual farming and research updates, but technically as a Fulbright researcher, I am a student abroad in a foreign country. Cultural exchange baby 😉