A well organised tourist carries a ‘hit list,’ with them every where they go. This list usually comprises of other peoples ideas of the things they must see to make their trip worthwhile. Think Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Leaning Tower of Pisa, you get the picture-the big stuff!
Unfortunately as I’ve found on my trips when you become focused on seeing only these spectacles, you are left feeling like a strange witness. You are simply another tourist, in another line, in another city, just like the other thousands before you. I soon realised that for me it took more than just seeing a landmark to feel connected to where I was.
It was only when I walked off the main streets and away from the tourist spots that I felt present. When I sat in a coffee shop, ate local bread, sipped local wine, listened to live music, saw what people were wearing, heard what they were saying-that’s when I felt I stopped being a witness and became a part of the place I was in.
I believe this is the reason exchange is so clever. When you are living in a new city like London for half a semester, after a week or so you have completed that hit list and you have to move on. Its at this point that you really start to experience a city, and properly see your surroundings for their good and their bad.
I’m not saying go and burn your hit list-those main attractions are still so incredible, they are definitely famous for a reason!! However every now and again it may be good to accidently leave the list at home, as I did when I found this quaint little street in the picture I’ve shown.
Of course the success rate of this method is not always 100% sometimes you’ll stumble upon something great, sometimes you’ll find a dark alley with an odd drunken man and his cat. Either way, exchange gives you the chance and the time to put that hit list in your pocket and actually become a part of something!!
Alana Flood 11027315