My last post focused on the differences I was experiencing on my trip, for the second installment, I’ve gathered a couple of things that seem to ring true in all the places I’ve been. I use the term “universal-ish” because this is a sample from 5 countries in relatively close proximity to one another, so in no way are these actually universal truths.
1. Everyone Loves Taylor Swift
Whether you’re on a crowded bus in Portugal, a cab in Glasgow, or in a pub in Dublin, when a Taylor swift song comes on there is a general head bobbing that begins and people acknowledge how catchy it is. I read something recently about T-Swizzle being compared to this generation’s Michael Jackson. Not that she is as talented or will have as long of a staying power, but the fact that she can bridge age and cultural gaps. She isn’t as offensive as Miley, is more accessible than Beyoncé, and encompasses what most people hope all American girls are like: tall and blonde with an affinity for red lipstick.
(Starbucks didn't make the list but I appreciate the Scottish twist on the place)
2. They Also Love Harry Potter
The book has been translated into 63 different languages so this one might have some truth to it, but this is a biased opinion because I’ve been travelling to countries with HP history everywhere. Though must say there is something special about walking around Edinburgh whistling “Hedwig’s Theme,” with your friend, taking in the city JK Rowling used as inspiration for her novels. Almost everyone on the trip could readily present which house they’ve been sorted in via online quizzes (Full disclosure, I’m a Slytherin). That detail alone explains why I was too lazy to wait in the Platform 9 ¾ s line at King’s Cross Station. Instead I chose to take a picture of a tourist taking a picture in front of it.
3. Young People Just Want To Move On
I’ve been in a class learning about the history of Ireland and after the first few classes, I found myself being sort of mad at England. I was filled with a pseudo-nationalistic anger; I watched the “Iron Lady” and channeled my frustration in trying to understand Margaret Thatcher. But when I asked my Irish friends about the history, they seemed indifferent. When I quizzed them about their thoughts on the oppression from England they replied, “Well didn’t they do the same to you?” This hadn’t even crossed my mind. The situations are wildly different, due to time and space they feel from the conflict, but just like in the States, young people generally want to move on.
This also goes for very young children, in a more literal sense. It does not matter what historical site, museum, or castle you are trying to tour, kids do not care. It does not matter what battle was won on this site, who was buried there, they just want their Ipad and they want to go home. I cannot say I do not identify with these desires. After traveling for 48 hours and somehow finding myself sleep deprived staring at a really old building, there is a large part of me that wants to throw a tantrum then have a nap.
(Children ignoring history in Lisbon, Portugal)
- Anna Aiello