As classes end and summer starts, travel is on everyone's mind. Trips local and abroad are incredible and are much deserved after months of hard work. But in one of my classes, we talked about orientalism. And after being part of the discussion, I realized that we are all guilty of this at times.
Orientalism is defined as the "representation of Asia, especially the Middle East, in a stereotyped way that is regarded as embodying a colonialist attitude." (Thank you Google.) And although Asia is where this term comes from, this isn’t just about Asia.
A lot of us have orientalist thoughts, sayings, ideas, etc. And it's not always our fault. A lot of us, who were born in the United States, have come to take so many things for granted. So when we visit some place new, our expectation that the new place will be like our own comfort zone is shattered.
We all fall into the trap of giving into the stereotypes of what we think people should be like. Whether it's about the people next door or the people that live in a different place than us, we tend to stick people into a box and expecting them to fit into it.
So as you prepare to go travel and visit all the wonderful places that you are going to visit, keep an open mind.
Hang up your thoughts and expectations about the place that you are visiting. And don't forget to leave your judgments and comparisons behind. The best way to travel is with an open mind and open heart; both will lead you to an experience that you will not forget.