Take notice

It’s good to remember there are people different from ourselves in the world. Even though I’ve been surrounded by an international crowd for so long, it’s still surprising to encounter someone so different from myself and whose world view is so different. What’s familiar to them is so ‘foreign’, so new to me… It’s been a while since it has happened, which is why I was caught off guard.

At the hostel in Kyoto, I met another Canadian – from Saskatoon. He spoke of -40 degree weather, winter tires, driving six hours to the nearest city with over a million people… all so different from my existence in populated Southern Ontario and later, downtown Toronto. It makes me realize that despite all the places I’ve been to and all the places I’ve wandered, we all still live in bubbles. Maybe not bubbles with such clear boundaries, but bubbles nonetheless.

Did I sound arrogant when I spoke to him? Do I assume too much? How do I appear to these people around me, whom I’ve never met before, but whose opinions I care about nonetheless? How would I react if I saw my own actions, heard my own words? What experiences and ideas brought them here? What are they looking for while traveling? What do they like for breakfast? Questions, questions, questions…

Now, the table has changed. Germany, Argentina, Japan, USA, Greece and me. I wonder why it’s easier remembering nationalities. Discussions of bars and relaxing and taking vacations and going back to work. And scholarships and looking for work as a farmer… and jokes and speaking so many different languages… I’m in front of my computer, partially listening, gathering thoughts. Maybe that’s one of the benefits, one of those things we can learn only when facing something, someone different from the familiar. To travel is to encounter those who lets us notice and remember the differences.

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