Many city dwelling Russians, and residents of countries that once made up the Soviet Union (Ukraine, Belarus, etc.) have a dacha, and with it, a green thumb and they take great pride in the quality and composition of their gardens. The shelves of many a dacha are filled with books on horticulture and when the flowers are blooming, you can bet most Russians are eager to have a portrait photo taken in the midst of the blooms. As such, many Russians who have dachas grow their own fruits and vegetables and prefer it that way.
Traveling always gives you an interesting insight into the culture of another country, but an additional benefit of traveling is the ability to reflect back on your own culture and to see it from a different perspective. The observance of holidays, and more specifically the importance placed on some celebrations by the community and society as a whole, is just one of the interesting comparisons you can make after having traveled abroad.
Those of you who travel know that it can result in countless benefits, both tangible and intangible, but it can often be hard to convince those who don’t travel that there is much more to traveling than just taking a break, going on holiday or avoiding reality.
When you travel to a place, you develop a connection with that place and the people who call that place home. Regardless of whether or not one’s personal experiences in a place are positive or negative, a connection is still made, and its often the case that the more random the place and the more unique the experience, the more powerful the connection. Personally, I feel all of these connections are positive, even the negative ones, because they are all learning experiences; it might just take a while for the dust to settle in order for one to find the good in something that was bad. As one continues to travel and continues to make more and more connections, it can become difficult to watch or read the news. The news is often focused on the negative; wars, natural disasters, politics, etc., so when a headline flashes across the television or scrolls across the computer screen and the location of that headline is a place with which you have made a connection, it can be emotional and frustrating and depending on how far away you are from that place you have connected with, can make you feel quite helpless.
At least that’s what Thomas Jefferson once said, although as a consolation for this unhappiness, Jefferson also said that traveling makes you wiser. From the minute I came across Jefferson’s quote; “traveling makes you more wise but less happy,” I’ve been pondering it’s meaning. Personally, I have yet to hear anyone else vocalize specifically that traveling in and of itself makes them unhappy, although I have heard people returning from overseas with a case of Montezuma’s Revenge or absent a camera due to an unfortunate purse snatching grumble about the expereince. Yet the more I continue to think about Jefferson’s words and the more I apply them to my own travels, I’m beginning to see that there might actually be some truth to what the first Secretary of State and the third President of the United States opined about when it came to travel.