To Africa and Back
With three months before the big day, I find myself mentally packing my bags in preparation for the trip. The long list of items I will need to pack leave me feeling a bit anxious at the ever-approaching date, but I feel like I could just throw everything in a bag right this moment and go.
In my head, I have this image of how I want to travel, and I feel the anxiety about meeting this expectation. Something about going overseas makes me want to represent myself as someone different than what people expect from the typical American tourist. In fact, I find myself setting the goal of not being recognized as an American.
In my head – and I’m sure in many non-Americans’ heads – I have this image of this ridiculous person, camera in hand, unprepared and arrogant. Unable or unwilling to adapt to the situation or accept how others live. This image is not at all me, but I don’t want anyone to somehow think that about me just because of the way I look or talk. I’m terrified that if I open my mouth and am identified as an American, the immediate stereotype of an ignorant American tourist will be cast upon me.
I’m probably worrying way too much about this. I’ve traveled overseas before. I’ve never been typecast as that kind of American. I just want so badly for everything to be wonderful. I want to meet locals and experience new culture and try so many new things. I just want to sort of slip into another existence for a while.
So as I mentally prepare, carefully selecting every packable item down to its last detail, I hope that I will leave as lasting an impression on the people I meet as I’m sure they will on me.
Maybe, eventually the American stereotype will be one associated with warm, inquisitive and open-minded individuals.