By Mary Schrott, For The Miami Student
I’ve been to several countries now, (attempted to) communicate in different languages, made one or two hostel beds, spent more money than expected because of currency exchange, tried and loved new foods, cozied up on train station/airport floors, brushed my teeth in a public bathroom, written a Yelp review and shamelessly taken touristy selfies.
If you know me, you know that I’m not the biggest selfie supporter. A silly picture here or there, sure, but cropping out the top of the Eiffel Tower in order to get your head in the frame seems a little counterintuitive.
With all the travel I’ve been doing this fall I’ve seen a lot of selfies taken, mostly on sticks too. And I’ve watched people arrive at tourist monuments only to immediately turn their back to take a picture of their own face.
Though this makes me slightly uncomfortable, I’m not saying I don’t take pictures when traveling. In fact, I’m all for it, go nuts! Pictures are wonderful to capture the beauty of a place you’ve never seen before, the smile of a friend laughing at an inside joke, the food that may be overpriced but definitely worth it, the street performer you have spent a minute too long looking at, the thing that you think your sister would like to see, the beach where you found a perfectly circular stone, or the joy on your face as you blissfully carpe that diem.
I fully encourage taking your picture in new places, not only to remember the place, but the time in your life that you experienced it. However, I do think there is something to be said of scraping the selfie and asking someone else to take your picture. With technology today we don’t ever have to talk to anyone in person. There’s no need to ask for directions, restaurant recommendations or someone even to take your picture.
The other day in the Dublin airport as I was waiting for my friends to finish getting through security, a man came up to me and asked if I would take his picture. The airport had just put up some Christmas decorations and there was a life-sized Santa Claus you could sit next to on a bench. As I stood there, taking this middle-aged and balding man’s picture next to a giant Santa, I couldn’t help but smile.
I didn’t know anything about him, except that he was traveling alone and obviously loved Christmas. I started to wonder who he would share this picture with, what he would say about it and who else would get to see it and smile.
Touristy areas are full of people, so why not interact with one another and make your new experiences shared ones? Ask someone to take your picture, talk to a stranger, share a smile. If you travel without interacting with the environment around you, don’t you think you’re missing out on one of the best parts of traveling?