EDITORIAL: Wanderlust versus the world

Jemma Wolfe
September 26, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

As anyone who knows me well can attest to, I have an inexhaustible, uninhibited, all-consuming desire to travel. And while my modest means can’t currently match my wanderlust, I am determined to see the world – sooner rather than later.

So when I read about the recent tragedy in New Zealand, it hit close to home. As you can read in detail on A5, recent Mac grad Joanna Lam and her boyfriend Connor Hayes lost their lives in a freak accident on a beautiful Fox Glacier highway, when it appears that a sudden landslide sent their rented car over a cliff into a river, and their vacation prior to starting new jobs to a horrible end. So far, only Ms. Lam’s body has been found.

It’s stories like that that make me wonder. Make me anxious to travel, to explore, to go on adventures.

It’s not just sudden natural disasters; it’s Kenyan mall shootings and London bus bombings and Boston Marathon terrorism that make it easier and easier to find excuses to retreat back into the comfort of home and the safety of the familiar.

Contrast that with the international study/volunteer abroad fair held in the student centre atrium on Monday. There’s a wealth of opportunity at McMaster students’ fingertips, be it in the form of eight-month exchanges to summer abroad research scholarships to even part-time campus jobs to put towards a post-grad travel fund. I have yet to meet a person who has said their travels were time and money ill-spent.

It is through travelling that we learn the most about other people, other places, and most importantly, ourselves.

If I had never gone to Europe, I wouldn’t know what it feels like to sip beer in a real German biergarten (table dancing and all), or to sit spellbound as Judi Dench commands the London stage, or to lay in wonder in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

I also wouldn’t know that I’m capable of taking planes and trains in foreign countries on my own; of getting lost where no one speaks English and finding my way; of realizing that if I save and plan and just go, I don’t have to wait for anybody - I can make my own adventures.

Like Joanna Lam, I’m a recent Mac grad. I’m also in my early twenties. And I have often talked with my own boyfriend (who patiently humours my itch to travel) about spending time in Australia and New Zealand, and seeing all the wonders of that amazing corner of the world. In some ways, that couple could have - or could be - us.

But thinking like that is no way to live. Certainly, travel requires one to be savvy, street-smart and to plan for the unexpected. Travel also requires one to let go of the fear of fate.

While I cannot speak for Ms. Lam, I would bet that she wouldn’t advise her McMaster peers to stay home and let the world pass them by.

Neither would I.

 

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