This summer I’m taking a world literature class, and I will admit that I am quite out of my element. British literature has forever and will always be my passion. It has helped shape my personality and plans for the future. In fact, my travel dreams haven’t typically strayed all that far from my general scope of literature. Europe has been my main focus from the get-go, and England has always been at the center of it all. This class however, pushed me out of my 18th century novels and into a much wider worldview. As I’ve explored new literature, I’ve become much more interested in places that were pretty far down on my “to visit” list.
My family has missionary friends from India, so I’m sure that I could always find a way to travel to New Delhi and the other major cities where they work. Still, I’ve never had an excessive urge to go there until now. Before, I would have been fine if I never set foot in India, but now I want the chance to further explore Hindu culture. The Bhagavad-Gita was such an intriguing work, and it almost reminded me of Beowulf in many aspects. However, I didn’t become emotionally invested in the culture of India until I read Rohinton Mistry’s short story “In a Village by the River”. The differences among castes and varna was so distinct within The Laws of Manu, and it made me wonder how a country that developed trigonometry and calculus could be so backwards (for lack of a better word) socially. I love seeing how things have changed over the past few decades, though, especially for women. Anyhow, I’d love to have the chance to visit such an interesting country and experience first hand their religion and way of life.
Other than wanting to hike the Great Wall of China whilst dressed as Mulan, I haven’t thought much about visiting China. Okay, I lied, teaching English and Spanish via a program through my university has become back backup plan in case grad school in Europe (or America) fails me. It has mostly been an afterthought, though. Like… Oh, China, right. Let’s just throw some clothes in the Patagonia and jump on a plane to teach English in China. Sounds like a plan, but let me fill out Oxford applications first. Sadly, this is how I tend to travel. Anyhow, after reading The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I started to realize that my history books failed at teaching me enough Chinese history. I was fascinated. And when I’m fascinated, I become obsessed and want to know literally everything there is to know about my obsession. I’m a nerd, okay? So that being said, I might be considering a gap year between graduation and grad school to teach Spanish in China. Yep, that could certainly be an adventure.
The Middle East
To be honest, I’m slightly bitter about this one. I had the chance to visit the Holy Land and Jordan this summer, but my dad wasn’t too keen on the idea. Actually, I don’t think he’s too keen on me visiting the Middle East in general. Still, I’m determined to make it there eventually, especially after having read A Thousand Splendid Suns. Khaleo Hosseini ripped my heart out with this novel, so I’m visiting at some point. Currently Kabul is high up on my list due to its colorful history, but considering the recent car bombings and embassy attacks, I likely won’t get to visit anytime soon. Other than that, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Isreal are both high on my list. Then Cairo, Egypt followed by Petra, Jordan and Tehran, Iran.
Basically, I always feel a strong desire to visit a place when its literature has made an emotional impact on me. Somehow through ink and paper, I find myself feeling a connection to the land that inspired the words. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that “everywhere” is now on my list of places to travel.
I hope you have survived my 1:00 AM ramblings, and hopefully tomorrow I don’t wake up to find this riddled with nonsense. Either way, I’d love to hear how literature has inspired your travel plans!
*photography note: all photos open domain taken from PixaBay.