Sunday, 1 January 2006

Cybertrack 5

Transitions Abroad

There’s an important distinction between the tourist and the traveller, one that the people who call themselves travellers like to make. Tourists go to see. Travellers go to experience, to learn. Or, to put it another way: “Tourists are those who bring their homes with them wherever they go, and apply them to whatever they see. They are closed to experiences outside of the superficial. Travelers, however, leave home at home, bringing only themselves and a desire to learn.” That quote, from Transition Abroad’s first issue, way back in 1977, sums it all up. Waitaminute, 1977? Heck, there wasn’t an internet then, let alone travellers’ portals. Ah, the story starts with a magazine. One aimed at the reader who aspired to genuinely travel, to immerse themselves in other cultures and be the richer for the experience. It’s not a concept that has ever taken off in this country, with our habit of demanding home food wherever we go, or carting along our own food - or even a cook. Anyway. The site is an extension of the magazine, and aims to eventually bring online the huge bank of information it has built up. You will find tips and essays on travel and work opportunities, studying abroad, teaching abroad, or just plain “going native,” as they used to say in less politically correct times. It’s an American magazine, so the slant of most of the pieces is predictable (you’ll find that “teaching English in [country name]” is pretty much the most repeated theme), but it doesn’t condescend, and the effort to understand rather than judge is transparent. Worth a bookmark. Worth thinking about.

Published in the January 2006 edition of Outlook Traveller, in a column called Cybertrack

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