"Are Americans allergic to traveling abroad?" I asked Poonam, an immigrant from Nepal, who states that such a notion is "ridiculous." Nepal has suffered lately due to a despotic ruler. The newspapers have recently reported that the king has cut off Nepal from the rest of the world by closing airports and shutting down communication. Poonam's father owns a resort in Nepal, and his family has struggled to keep business open through these tough times. "How do you explain that only 15% of Americans have passports to travel abroad? Is it because we are lazy?" Poonam furthers that Americans are not lazy or allergic to traveling. He points out that Americans do not have the time to travel abroad.
The strength of our economy is based on the working class. He points out that most employees only receive one to two weeks of vacation. In Nepal if he were to take a vacation, his employer would give him one to two months off so that he can travel and enjoy himself. He explains that to travel to Nepal, it takes two days to get there and two takes to get back home (Baltimore). The weary traveler usually needs a day or two after each way to recover from any jet lag or from the pure exhaustion of balancing airplane and other time schedules.
Poonam also points out, the vast land in United States allows Americans the opportunity to take mini-trips that can be very enriching. This is one of his favorite aspects of our country. Poonam who works 72 hour work weeks without overtime, will spend his only day off taking his son and wife to Washington D. C.
or Philadelphia. We both agree that this point is overlooked. Traveling abroad is reserved for those who do not have to work - the independently wealthy. Poonam does not believe that apathy prevents us from travel, but rather our drive to succeed in our careers. I posed the question as to whether or not we work too much? He reminds me of the French government who require mandatory vacations and 35 hours work weeks. I counter with a recent news article that reported a decline in the French economy.
The French government is thinking of reversing the 35 hour work week law. I am definitely very interested in traveling. I have started taking French lessons so that I can travel abroad. I would love to be able to work in the international realm of healthcare or political relations. I have just filled out the paperwork for my passport. I have to go get my picture taken and then I will be ready to submit my application.
My goal is to spend a whole semester abroad during my tenure here at UMBC; although, I would also like to spend some time during the summer volunteering in Indonesia. My pen pal who lives in Southern France states that Americans should not waste time learning another language, for she believes that I should spend more time furthering myself in the sciences. I believe that we should show respect when visiting other countries though. Out of respect, we should try to learn some of their cultures which includes at least learning greetings and other conversational customs..