By Cheyenne Roper, News Reporter
Rick Steves visited Elmhurst College to discuss how travel can be used as a political act at his rescheduled lecture on Friday, March 2.
Known for his popular PBS television show, Rick Steves Europe, Steves’ lecture discussed how traveling can have a way of opening one’s eyes to the different ways of life across the world.
“My mission is to inspire and encourage Americans to go beyond Orlando,” joked Steves.
He went on to continue how Orlando should not be a life-time travel destination, but rather recommends branching out to places such as Sweden or Portugal.
Steves, through his many years of traveling to-and-fro Europe, feels that there is so much more than staying at trendy hotels and visiting popular tourist destinations while traveling abroad.
“The pinnacle of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of travel needs is to get out of your comfort zone and gain an empathy for the other ninety-six percent of humanity,” said Steves. “And then you come home with that most beautiful souvenir and that is a broader perspective.”
Americans who “travel as a political act” are capable of having the times of their lives while in an unfamiliar country and can return home with a clearer understanding of the interconnectedness of today’s vast world, according to Steves.
“Another great thing about travel is you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, you get out of your comfort zone, and hang out with people who see things differently. It’s healthy, and to me it carbonates your whole experience,” said Steves.
With many different perspectives under his belt, and observing many various ways of doing things across the nations, Steves notes the similarities and differences between the things he perceives in Europe as compared to back in the U.S.
Steves continued by explaining one of the sights he recently saw in Germany.
“I was recently in the train station of Munich, taking pictures of the trains in the station – specifically what used to be cute little birds, squished on to the windshields. I thought: this is a surreal image, a bird squished to the window of a train,” noted Steves.
“If you interact with people, or come across situations that you normally wouldn’t, it’s definitely something that can broaden your perspective, and you can come back with a better understanding of the world.”
One of his anecdotes included an observation of how one would never see a thing like that in the states. However, in Europe something like a bird being the equivalent of a bug on a car windshield is not uncommon.
The differences between what is noticed abroad as compared to what people are used to back home, even something as small as a “squished bird” on the train, gives a broader understanding of the world live, as Steves points out as one of his main principles for utilizing travel as a political act.
EC Senior Fransisco Jiminez, who will be traveling to Amsterdam for spring break, spoke on how he viewed travel as a political act.
“If you expand your horizons, things seem a lot less scary,” Jiminez said. “If you interact with people, or come across situations that you normally wouldn’t, it’s definitely something that can broaden your perspective, and you can come back with a better understanding of the world.”
Jiminez continued by making the comparison of how he views Rick Steves as “the Bob Ross of traveling” and revealed that Steves’ lecture made him feel more comfortable to step out of his “American bubble” while in Amsterdam, and truly enjoy and absorb the full experience of being in a foreign land.
“When we take home that most beautiful souvenir, a broader perspective, and when we implement that broader perspective here, in this great nation of ours,” Steves concluded, “we’re making travel a political act and that has never been more important.”