Self-validation is never enough

Self-validation through travel

A comment.

Lisa and Lukas, two exemplary German students, spent five weeks in India during the semester break. When they return to Germany with tanned skin and airy trousers printed with elephants, they enthusiastically tell their friends about their trip. They report on the humid heat of Delhi, the modern day Bangalore, the hike through the desert near Jaisalmer and the nights in Goa. After Lisa and Lukas have got used to their everyday life in their comparatively deserted hometown, only casual comments, the free space on the scratch map, colorful towels and the frequent consumption of curry bear witness to their trip while the two are back on it Focus on studying.

These young travelers, whose story is invented but not improbable, probably knows every student from his own environment or even recognizes himself in them. You regularly travel the world with large backpacks on 20 to 40-day trips, experience landscapes and cultures and seem to have a really exciting life.

Young, international tourists delight the travel industry with their mass. Their motivation is mostly curiosity and the desire to get to know foreign cultures, different foods and landscapes. However, this often leads to the fact that recommended locations are completely overcrowded after a short time. On the one hand, this means that more German travel trends than gods can be observed in the Indian temple. On the other hand, local traditions and ways of life are sometimes distorted beyond recognition by taking over tourists. What backpackers can do is shown dramatically in the film scenes from Pegi Vail's documentary Gringo trails. Among other things, it tells the story of a paradisiacal beach on the Thai island of Kho Phangan, whose idyll has been overrun by tens of thousands of people every year since the 1980s, getting drunk and burying the sand under their rubbish. Gringo Trails reveals through such, sometimes drastic images, that travel and backpacking in particular, as positive as it is for travelers, always influences the place and the people who live there. The documentation makes it clear how important it is to reflect before a trip, why we want to travel to a place and what our stay there can change in the short and long term.

However, this reflection should not be limited to traveling, but permeate our entire everyday life. This goes hand in hand with the fact that we deal with our own role in the world, but also in our own country and city, and not simply swim with the mostly homogeneous mass of opinions and trends - such as traveling to Southeast Asia. Currently, the desire for the new and the unknown is mainly lived out by many from a distance. This creates an ambivalence of spontaneity and an immovable way of life, of openness and ignorance. Our representative young tourists Lisa and Lukas neither know their 30-year-old neighbors from the apartment on the ground floor, nor do they, apart from their grandparents, maintain contact with pensioners. They fear Trump and the cancellation of the two-euro kebab offer at Lokma. They rave about their vacation in India, during which their short, summery clothes were not adapted to the local culture. They do not know who these people are who voted the CDU in Schleswig-Holstein the election winner. You want student life with a party, free time and then a well-paid career start. In addition to the above-mentioned ambivalence, the question of whether their everyday life may not satisfy them enough or for the long term and therefore they flock to the distance to see new things can be derived from this description of their life.

Few people make full use of the opinions, actions and places available nearby. Because the flight into the exotic validates the self, the own life, the course of an academic year and certifies openness, excitement and curiosity to long-distance travelers. But shouldn't it be our goal to earn these attributes every day of our lives? Not travel pictures on Instagram, the list of the countries visited, the tan and the nice stories of the weird guy from the hostel should determine or justify our value, but the obvious enjoyment of an exciting and fulfilling everyday life.

This should not be understood as a call to cancel all flights, but as an impetus to question why we travel and whether other things or other ways of traveling cannot satisfy us in the long term. In her documentation, Pegi Vail points out the possibilities of culturally and ecologically sustainable tourism. Although this is usually associated with additional costs, it probably creates deeper impressions than chatting superficially with a trader on the beaches of Goa. But even without an exotic travel destination and in a much more casual way, new and, above all, profound experiences can be gained. Regular conversations with people who do not live in the student bubble, who pursue different opinions or subjects, can open up new perspectives and enrich us. Sports, political, social or artistic engagement can also expand the circle of known people and make an escape from everyday life superfluous. A wonderful opportunity to come into contact with the unknown and unknown and to learn new things is, by the way, instead of taking the train home or even instead of a flight to India, Thailand or Canada, hitchhiking - home Friends or in unknown corners of Europe. Because hitchhiking is hardly possible without openness and spontaneity, provides profound impressions and also requires far less planning and financial resources.

The tourism industry has already recognized the power of young travelers and is trying to guide it. Now it is time to become aware of our power and to use it for something that we can and want to represent and guarantee an exciting and joyful everyday life in the long term.

Cover picture: Alba Campus

Studied psychology in Kiel since 2013, and has been indulging in ALBRECHT since the winter semester 2014/15, from 2015 to 2017 as picture editor and from January 2017 to January 2018 as deputy editor-in-chief.