Things People Don’t Tell You About Travel

If you look to travel bloggers and the internet, you would be under the assumption that travel is rejuvenating, filled with adventure and picturesque sunsets. That you’re so lucky and you’re going to have the best time of your life. Whilst I agree that people who get the chance to travel are incredibly luck and will definitely have an experience of a lifetime – when you’re in a dark alleyway in the back streets of Rome, no charge left on your phone and there’s creepy people lurking around, it’s hard to say that you are having the best time of your life.

I’m 100% guilty of creating this illusion that travelling is so amazing and every second is simply unforgettable. However, when I stop and really think back on it, I think this wanderlust magical illusion has altered my memory. In life, it’s only natural to remember the good times so when people ask you ‘how was your trip?’ it’s only natural to think back to those beautiful sunsets over the ocean, the wonderful people you met and the breathtaking sight of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.

Travelling looking as appealing as ever
Travelling looking as appealing as ever

But as the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. So, here’s my list of things that people don’t tell you about travelling, because in order to truly have the adventure of a lifetime, you need to know what to do when travelling turns out to be less than perfect.

*Obviously everyone’s experiences are different, but these are things that I encountered whilst travelling and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.

On your first few nights away, you will cry

You’ve just spent a whole 24 hours on a plane, you’re wearing dirty clothes, you’re over tired, confused and trying to decipher out how to get to your hostel. Life is difficult to navigate when you’re tired when you’re at home, let alone in a strange city. And when you finally lay your head down on a strange pillow, it kind of sinks in that you’re on your own. You get these strange feelings over being overwhelmed with your decision to embark on a journey so bold. On my first night in London I remember crying because I arrived late at night, got the train from the airport to the station (it wasn’t a pleasant train ride either) and then having no idea where to go from the station. Then when I finally made it to my hotel, I couldn’t sleep because of jetlag and there were sirens all night long.

What to do?

Accept these feelings. If you feel like crying. Just let it out. Personally, if I try and hold some tears in, I get all worked up about nothing. To get over nights like this, make sure you’ve got a few good movies or TV series loaded onto your laptop. I find it so settling to just switch off and watch some mindless TV to fall asleep to. On that note, make sure you get a good sleep. Adjusting to jetlag is a bit of a bitch but try and wake up at a ‘normal’ time and go to sleep at a ‘normal’ time. That’s the quickest way to adjust.

Sometimes, it's ok to have sad days. Source
Sometimes, it’s ok to have sad days. Source

Places, Sites and Cities will not be what you expect

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to go to Paris. I couldn’t wait to set foot in that city and follow the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel and Victor Hugo. Paris… the City of Light… of the city of dog sh*t, ghettos, uncomfortable metro rides and gypsies. I was utterly repulsed by the Eiffel Tower as well. I just didn’t get it and everything about it just felt off. THEN, there were numerous incidents where I nearly got pickpocketed and many times where I was followed and harassed on the metro. Let’s just say, Paris was not in my good books. I remember being so internally upset that Paris didn’t live up to my expectations. I just didn’t understand it.

What to do?

There was just something in me that yearned to love Paris. So when I got the opportunity to return, I had to take it. The second time I was there – it felt like I’d lived there my whole life. I stayed with a dear friend of mine that lived in the Bastille arrondissement. I met lots of locals and explored hidden treasures. And then, I saw the Eiffel Tower from the hills of Montmartre and that is the moment that I fell in love with Paris. The point is, not everyone is going to like every city or place. We all have different experiences and that’s what make our stories worth listening to. It’s just important to not be disappointed by your first encounter of a place, and to try and immerse yourself in the local way of life to get a true feel for what a place is like. If I had never given Paris a second shot, I would’ve regretted it so much.

Enjoying Paris as you should. With coffee, bread, croissants, good friends and locals.
Enjoying Paris as you should. With coffee, bread, croissants, good friends and locals.
Getting lost in beautiful neighbourhoods
Getting lost in beautiful neighbourhoods
When I fell in love. Source
When I fell in love. Source

You will get sick, and when you do, you’ll want to press the SOS button

You get sick when you’re at home, so of course you’re going to get sick when you’re travelling. And trust me, being sick whilst in a foreign country is THE WORST!!! I call my experience, the Prague experience. Let’s just say I was there around Christmas New Years time, I ate a lot of street food, and drank a lot of beer (beer is cheaper than water, I was just trying to save money!). Anyway, my body was pretty damn mad at me because I vomited for 24hours straight and couldn’t even keep water down. The next day I was booked in to go to Vienna and then off to Berlin, but I honestly couldn’t even keep my head up without feeling dizzy and throwing up. I don’t really remember it all, but I called my Dad, crying saying how sick I was. I had a random French couple trying to give me medicine that I couldn’t read what it was and an old Polish man telling me that I was poisoned. Let’s just say, I wanted to press eject and get out of there.

What to do?

Firstly, make sure you have travel insurance! I did have it, however honestly didn’t know what to do and didn’t know if I was sick enough to go to the hospital. In hindsight, I probably should have. Don’t hesitate to contact home for comfort, but maybe do so after you’ve had a few hours to think about what’s going on. Listen to your body! I was so tempted to push on the next day to Vienna, my mind was screaming at me to get off my ass and onto that bus. But I physically knew that I was incapable of doing so. Don’t be afraid to relax and let your body and mind heal itself. There’s no point pushing yourself where you won’t even be able to enjoy a new city. I wish I could’ve gone to Vienna and Berlin, but now they’re just on my to do list again!

Always read. Source
Always read. Source

It will be hard, but it will be worth it

Sure all of the jetlag, getting lost, food poisoning, nights spent on airport floors, trying to decipher Hungarian road signs and fending off weird metro goers kind of sucks… but you know what… it’s those stories which will turn out to be some of your best. Each set back you experience is just preparing you to overcome the next. I know that sometimes it’s hard, but trust me it will be worth it!

 

 

The Importance of An Insider’s Perspective

We keep what we have, by giving it away.” – Eric Lassiter – humanity

So now that we have a general understanding of ethnographic research, why is it so important? What’s the big deal? Personally, I believe many of the world’s problems stem from a lack of genuine understanding or misinterpretation of a situation.  Everyone’s culture, beliefs, outlook, perspecitves, values and way of understanding life are different, so it only makes sense when we try to fix a problem, that we consult directly with the people it affects.

An example of this misunderstanding and lack of effective communication is the Live Aid and Make Poverty History campaigns led by Bono and Bob Geldof. The whole initiative started when Bob Geldof saw confronting images on TV of malnourished children living in poverty on the brink of death in Africa. So their solution was to raise money. Awesome… Or is it?

Left to right: Prime Minsiter of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi,  US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and Bono.
Left to right: Prime Minsiter of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil and Bono.

Their campaigning created awareness in the public, who then urged politicians to jump on board, to change legislation, and donate more foreign aid, and that money would be given directly to Ethiopia….’s President, Meles Zenawi’s pocket, who stole the election and who’s governmet is corrupt. Whilst this issue is a huge one and I’m not offering a single solution to poverty itself, Bono and Bob probably could’ve made a lot more of a significant impact if they discussed issues of poverty, development, agriculture and livlihood with Ethiopian people.

Collaborative research is research based on a ‘greater and deeper relationship between the researcher and the people being researched’ (Clerke & Hopwood, 2014) and implies ‘constant mutual engagement at every step of the process.’ (Lassiter, 2005). If the work you’re researching is hoping to make changes to a community, it should completely benefit the community and not be influenced by corporation power. Instead of contantly asking what you can gain from this research, you should be asking what the community wants and needs to change. This may direct your research in a different yet more rewarding and impactful way.

Source
Source

So how can we relate all of this back to TV and the media space? Well thinking of my Grandparents and listening to them talk about when they first received a TV. There’s so many side stories and aspects that we could’ve discussed. What were the rules in front of the TV? Who got to sit on the lounge and who sat on the floor? Where did the children sit? Did they still play and talk whilst the TV was on? How much did it cost? Did you have to sacrifice other things to have a TV? Did you still listen to the radio? So many questions that arise from a simple conversation, and this is probably the biggest deterent from participating in collaborative ethnographic research, it takes a lot of time.

However, if we are willing to sacrifice our time, patience and understanding, like the quote above says ‘we keep what we have, by giving it away,’ what is it? I think it’s our compassion, empathy and understanding, and it’s important to hold onto it in order to make the world a better place and learn more about people from an insider’s perspective.

References

Clerke. T & Hopwood. N 2014, Doing Ethnography in Teams, Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-05618-0_2

Lassiter. E 2005, The Chicago guide to collaborative ethnography, University of Chicago Press

Where do I belong in the Media Space?

“Getting lost is a good way to find yourself” – Anonymous

Well then I guess I’m happy that I’m a little lost in life and especially the blogosphere. I’m one person, behind one laptop, my blog, with a coffee in hand, with a whole bunch of ideas that I happen to share with my friends and family and anyone (un)lucky enough to stumble across my blog. And after our first BCM240 lecture and asking myself the questions ‘where do I belong in this space called, the media?’ I was left feeling a little lost, confused and contemplating my life. And I’ve been reflecting on this and come to some interesting conclusions on finding yourself and your space in the blogosphere.

Source
Source

1. Stay true to your voice. Everyone has a unique voice and it’s important to stick to yours. Like I said, there’s milions of blogs out there, but people want to read something fresh, offering them new perspectives and insights to things they wouldn’t normally experience.

2. Stick to your motives. Ask yourself why you’re blogging, what you’re hoping to achieve, who your audience is, what goals do you have and what’s your dream? You can never go wrong it you abide by your values.

3. Network, network, network. I always say that blogging is 50% writing and the other 50% is liking, reading, commenting and exploring other people’s blogs and posts. You need to establish a network in the blogging community… and then this can lead to…

4. Opportunities! I was lucky enough to meet an established travel blogger, World of Wanderlust last month. She’s one of my personal idols, especially when it comes to blogging. From that meeting, she instagrammed photos of us, shared a link to my blog, and I got thousands of views and a few extra followers overnight. It was such an incredible opportunity to meet someone as successful in the blogosphere as Brooke, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my blogging ‘career.’ (You can read about my experience meeting World of Wanderlust here).

5. Eat. Sleep. Blog. Repeat. The key to success (especially in the blogosphere) is persistance and determination.  I love blogging. It’s as simple as that. I’m not expecting to make millions of dollars or get paid to travel the world from it (but if anyone out there is willing to pay me for that I’m available). I’m doing it because it’s something I’m proud of and thouroughly enjoy.

In my happy place
In my happy place

So… where does that lead me in the media space? I’m surrounded by all forms of media in my life, but I’d say the most influential and valued is my blog. And as the quote at the beginning of this post says ‘getting lost is a good way to find yourself.’ And that’s why I’m incredibly excited to be taking BCM240: Media, Audience and Place, to find myself a little more in this crazy space that we call, the media.

xxx A