Tourists are Idiots

Erin Biesecker
July 25, 2018

Sometimes, I just look back on some idiot thing I did, and it’s like, who am I??? There’s so much I don’t know about myself. I start to think I can kind of see my pattern of behavior and understand it, but I really can’t. People are so unpredictable. This occurred this weekend when a couple of my friends and I got the address wrong for our bus tour meant to explore the Great Ocean Road outside of Melbourne. We found ourselves 40 minutes outside the city, with 10 minutes to go before the bus was supposed to leave. Now, if you know me at all, I would be a panicky, sweaty mess at this point. This is the kind of thing that busts my buttons—being late to something and making other people inconvenienced because of my being unprepared. But then I surprised myself again! I was totally calm. I told myself that if we missed it, I was sure we would have another amazing day exploring Melbourne. Mistakes happen. It’s a given. So I only ended up being minorly sweaty (score). Oh, and we did end up making it to the bus! 22 minutes late, but they were nice enough to wait. We some hateful looks on our way to the back of the bus, but I was still so shocked by my calmness that I didn’t really care.

So, what the french fries happened?? What triggered my sudden gain of perspective that kept me from losing my shoes? I’m really not sure. I can’t tell if it’s a sign that I’m learning how to manage my anxiety, or if I’m just kinda all over the place and will never really know how I’ll react to things. Or maybe I was just being completely normal and could easily realize that missing the bus wouldn’t be the end of the world. In the words of the brilliant John Mulaney, “Who’s to say?” I guess what matters is that I’ve learned that I don’t need to pigeonhole myself and that finding opportunities to gain perspective usually help me from turning into an anxious mess.

Terry Pratchett introduced me to a wonderful world run by perspective in his children’s fantasy, The Bromeliad Trilogy. In these three stories, tiny nomes struggle to maintain their way of life and are forced to leave the comfort of their department-store home to think big- and rescue their race. Although seemingly basic, the morals of this tale ring as true for me today as they did back when I was pretty sure that chocolate milk could only come from brown cows. Pratchett plays with mind-bending ways to switch between the large and loud perspective of a human and the smaller, more detail-oriented perspective of the nomes. The combination of both points-of-view ends up leading to them succeeding and saving the nomes. Reading this book definitely changed my character and instilled in me my desire to emphasize empathy in my everyday life. It’s made me want to assume as many perspectives as possible so I can understand where anyone could possibly be coming from.

Coming to Australia has definitely been an exercise in my favorite activity: expanding my viewpoint. I found one quote from The Bromeliad Trilogy that sums it up pretty well: “Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant 'idiot'.” Being an outsider makes you new, a baby unfamiliar to all the detailed ins and outs of living life as an insider. Becoming accustomed to this new perspective helps me grow out of that baby stage, and helps me see the world from another point of view. This is what I value most from traveling abroad, and what I hope everyone can experience by letting go a little of our tight hold onto the small differences to see what more of the big picture.

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Erin Biesecker

<p>I have been a rower for seven years, and it has been a large part of my college experience. Rowing has helped me learn&nbsp;teamwork and camaraderie to the extreme- needing to get our bodily actions with little more than centimeters as a&nbsp;buffer. And it's amazing! I witness sunrises and sunsets on a beautiful river with my closest friends and it's everything&nbsp;I ever wanted from a sport without ever having known it before.</p>

2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
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