“It’s easier to travel from America to many places. Like to Mexico. Or Canada.”
Living in Israel as an international student, I’ve become acquainted with the perceptions and customs of other cultures. For one thing, everyone here greets each other with a cheek-kiss. Guys, girls- all receive a kiss as familiar and comfortable as a friendly wave.
Being an international student has also, for the first time, brought me in close contact with Europeans. At first, meeting someone from Italy or France would really impress me, until I realized that my reaction was cultural.
Traveling to Europe from the U.S is a pretty big deal for most people. Its far. Really, really far. And unless you were lucky enough to go back when the dollar meant something over there, it’s really, really expensive.
For them, “Europe” is no big deal. They have fast trains and cheap flights and they use the Euro anyway so what do they care. Being European means that you are never far away from Europe. To put it in context, when I drive seven hours from NYC, I get to Buffalo. When my roommate drives seven hours from Budapest, she gets to Venice.
I find my own attitude changing as well. Travel to Europe from Israel is so…doable. With a little extra cash from a summer job, you can extend a stopover flight on your way home from summer vacation, which is how I spent ten really cute hours with my mom in Rome last year. Or, if you have friends studying there you can crash in their dorm, like I did last November when I spent five days in Paris. Next week I am flying to Barcelona for the same purpose (different friend though).
Two years, three European cities. It’s just a drop in the travel bucket, but its good enough for me.