Shattering Misconceptions

Patricia Carrigan
Published on: September 2013
I've been writing about how all of us in different parts of the world have been making assumptions about people in other parts of the world. I'm not talking about great big ones here, but little ones that shape our views about what people in other countries are like. We base them on silly things like what we see on TV or movies, may be even what's printed in media. We all know it's best to go straight to the source, right?

I decided to start with something really small, why people travel or don't and where they go? Why did I pick this? Well! It came up on a radio program I was on. I was informed that Americans were seen as snobbish or insolent by some countries because most Americans don't travel out of country or even out of state. That had to be explained.

Things having to do with vacation or "Holiday time" are done much differently here. There are obstacles to travel abroad that Americans face. Do you want to know? It's simple really, just a few simple things...
1. Time:
While the majority of the world receives mandatory minimum paid vacation time, the USA does not. Our vacation is usually based on position, income and years with the company. The majority of the lower to middle income workers are fortunate to get time off with pay.

2. Money:
Since most Americans have no minimum paid vacation time, most have very little money for vacations. Not only that, travel from the US to let's say, Europe is prohibitively expensive. Many people dream of going, only to keep it on their "bucket list" in hopes of someday being able to finance such a trip. Travel across the USA is not inexpensive and as spread out as families have become, many people opt to visit their loved ones instead of traveling elsewhere. Did you know that if you drive from the top of California to the bottom without stopping at all, never hit traffic and never slow down, it will take you about 12 hours? That's one state. But, I can drive across California from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe at the Nevada State line in about 3 hours and 18 minutes. Do you know how long it would take to drive straight through across the USA? Care to guess? 2906 miles... that's 42 hours nonstop. You want to fly? It'll cost you a pretty penny, but not as much as going overseas. Flights within the US are much cheaper than out. On the East coast, states are much smaller than on the west coast. You can travel from one state to another in no time at all. This creates misunderstandings between East Coast people and West Coast people.

I traveled with People to People Student Ambassador Program. It was an amazing trip. 19 days spent in the British Isles. The trip was not a gift. I earned the right to go, but I still had to pay for it. That trip is the reason I don't have a car and I go to Junior college. It was incredibly expensive. I made the choice to do it anyway for my own reasons. Recently, I mapped out that trip on Google maps and was floored to find that all that running around I did, could be fit in one small piece of the United States. I don't think people realize how incredibly large this place is. Take Spain and put it next to Texas. It's about the same size I bet. You know why else people don't leave America? We haven't seen it all yet! There are so many cool things to see and I want to see them all. I've never seen Mount Rushmore, or Yellowstone National Park, but I'd like to. There are trees here so big you can drive a car right through them! The Grand Canyon takes your breath away! Do I want to see the whole world? You bet I do, but I need a few things first, Time...Money... and to see my country too.

Anyway, like I said this is just one tiny misunderstanding. There are so many on all sides. I would love to break them all down so we could understand each other better. For instance, there are many homeless and poor in America as well. Literacy is still an issue. Hard to believe? Even here we have our children wanting food.

My inspiration was one tiny statement on a radio show, "it's grown into a desire to get to know the World while letting them know us."
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?