Written by ashleyjennings June 12, 2023
If I ask you what makes humans similar or different, what would your answer be? Your answer could be scientific through the use of water, shelter, and good rest. It could also be answered in a less fact-based way like how we all have our own versions of right and wrong. Through this program, I have had the privilege to experience the raw moments of joy traveling brings to newcomers.
Some of my favorite activities traveling abroad includes people watching. If you don’t stop and look around, there are things you might miss. Humanity can do the purist things; you just have to watch. I have experienced moments of genuine joy through other people, and through the group in which I have traveled.
Some of my favorite authentic experiences I have witnessed throughout this trip includes the plane ride. We all know that airports, security, customs can all be a headache but when people finally sit in their chosen seat and release the deep breath they were holding, you can see the tension and stress leave their bodies; they start getting excited for the adventure to come. I love to experience the takeoff. Everyone collectively looks out the window as we take off, wanting to soak up every second and stare so intently so they can memorize the little frame and every detail. No matter where that person is in life whether they are stressed, have problems at home, or are just excited to see where they land, all those thoughts slip away to show the pure curiosity we as humans all share.
Another one of these raw experiences you get to witness as a people watcher, is the unfiltered reaction of seeing a landmark. We had the privilege of traveling to Paris, France the third weekend. Of course, the first thing you think of when you think of Paris is the Eiffel Tower. You walk up to the huge tower to see people taking pictures because they never want to forget the huge landmark they are standing in front of. The picture could be for bragging rights, checking something else off your bucket list, or for me, sending to my family group chat to keep them in touch with my travels. Nevertheless, when the phone comes down you see the slacked jaw, half smiles because you can’t believe you are experiencing something so renowned and I can confirm, it is as cool as it looks in pictures.
Another location we experienced this phenomenon is Florence. Florence has lots of tourist attractions but a huge one is the statue of David. Standing at 17 feet high, he is a sight to behold. The detail and respect you gain from the artist is incredible that the phone doesn’t do it justice- but people sure like to try. Surrounding with people looking up at a masterpiece, it is interesting to look around you and interpret what they are thinking. I also find it funny to compare the two events and how different they are to how people react to them because they are very similar in that aspect.
Encountering these “awe” moments has been one of my very favorite recollections of this trip. Knowing and understanding that a group of people all feel the same way about attractions or even as simple as a plane taking off makes me feel content with the people around me. We all encounter different experiences throughout our lives but are all united for one purpose.