I’ve spent a lot of time in airports.
From moving to multiple countries, to the recent traveling to and from college, to flying in a plane for the first time (I was less than a year old, so you could say I remember that experience vividly), airports and airplanes have always brought me a sense of comfort.
Other than the familiar feelings of meandering through an airport, there are a few reasons why I love these places so much.
First is the anticipation and excitement that inevitably surges through my being when preparing to climb onto a plane. No matter what my destination may be, just the simple notion that I am leaving my current location and venturing out somewhere different brings me joy.
The busy atmosphere of an airport keeps me alert and aware of the hectic yet satisfying travel process. The constant moving, the frequent sound of announcements, bells, and whistles, the distant roar of planes taking off, the frazzled airport employees hustling people along, the faint scent of delicious food in surrounding restaurants, the feeling of purpose you get when checking the board for flight times and gate numbers, all of these contribute to that wild tension of airports that somehow brings me peace.
Also, sitting in a plane holds a strange serenity. At such a high altitude, you feel isolated in the best way possible. The hum of the engine and the mesmerizing view of the passing clouds almost numbs the mind so you can’t even begin to fathom how far away you are from the earth. It’s an indescribable feeling; you are so lost and so distant yet you feel comfortable and relaxed.
However, one can only enjoy this blissful feeling when the following factors are not present: crying babies, airsick passengers, inconsiderate neighbors that invade your personal space, or obnoxious children that somehow find satisfaction in kicking the seat in front of them. Without these obstacles, plane rides can be quite enjoyable.
Back to the excitement of airports. My eagerness to travel only intensifies when I have stayed in a certain place for a decently long time. For example, as of now I have been in Florida for a little over four months.
Although I adore Tampa, college, and the people that surround me here, I’m starting to feel restless. Tomorrow morning I will board a plane to Boston, and the thought that I will break away from what has become the norm and start a different experience is thrilling.
(I took this sunrise photo while on a morning flight from Tampa to Boston.)
That’s another amazing aspect of airports; planes can transport you anywhere in the world in an incredibly short amount of time. If you are willing to spend money on a plane ticket, you are allowing today’s advanced aviation technology to engulf you into a small flying capsule, and literally ship you to another destination. It is crazy to think about (if you tend to over-think things like I do).
In today’s world, you can easily go anywhere in the world without putting in very much effort. THAT IS AWESOME. Just yesterday, I was talking to my roommate at 10 AM, then a couple hours later she texted me to say that she was in Connecticut. In a matter of hours she had crossed to a different area of our huge country. This baffles me.
The ease of traveling around the globe today acts as a major contributing factor to the supposed “globalization” that is reshaping our world. The idea of globalization covers a wide variety of different topics, but for the sake of this post I am focusing on the social integration aspect of globalization.
Anytime prior to the nineteenth century, most people lived in a specific area and stayed there. Societies were mainly homogeneous, and citizens were only aware of what occurred in their region. If an individual wished to travel, they could do so by the extremely time-consuming methods of sailing, horseback riding, walking, etc.
Today, fortunate people have the ability to buy a plane ticket, and get to the other side of the world in a day. Easy access to travel allows people to venture out in the world and experience different cultures, thus gaining knowledge and insight that they otherwise would not have had. People can travel for business, for leisure, and for education in order to expand their understanding of the world.
In more extreme cases, people travel because their lives depend on it. The immense influx of refugees fleeing Syria has a huge impact on immigration issues in Europe and now in the U.S., but sometimes refugees have no choice but to leave their homes behind and assimilate into a different area.
All throughout history, migration between countries creates culturally diverse cities and forces people to come in contact with different people. Consider all the Irish living in Boston, or all the Indians and Pakistanis living in London. Communities are becoming increasingly blended, and this largely results from the easy access to travel.
Now, in order for this social integration to foster the exchange of culture and knowledge and thus make the world a better place, people must be open-minded, unbiased, and willing to learn and accept cultural differences. (See my previous post about not being an ignorant idiot who discriminates against other humans: The Plague of the “Us” vs. “Them” Mentality).