America: Introverted Extroverts

Sixty-four percent of Americans have never left the United States. One of the richest and most influential countries in the world contains 204,096,000 people who have never been abroad. Why is it that there are so many of us shut off to the rest of the world? We may have read plenty of books about other places and we may watch television shows about other overseas places but that does not cultivate us or make us more aware of the rest of the world. So what causes some of us to be so reclusive? I’m not saying we should go and live somewhere outside of the US (although that would certainly be more effective than a quick day trip to Mexico or Canada), but to properly become more aware of other cultures and ways of life, one at least needs to visit a place for a week and immerse himself or herself.

Another peculiar thing about the US is that we spread our culture like a plague through social media and other facets of multimedia (film, music, etc.) and yet we rarely reciprocate. Yes, there are plenty of immigrants that brought their separate cultures to this diverse Melting Pot; however, there are still far too many racists, homophobes, and other socially intolerant people to call America culturally accepting. The fact that the States were made based on the idea of diversity and cultural acceptance is being completely flaunted by intolerant people. For example, it seems ridiculous that American Muslims are being attacked simply because of Islamophobes. Think about it: if more Americans traveled and educated themselves about other places rather than relying completely on “scary” American news and how they portray certain races. Of course, not all news broadcasters display current events in this way, but in order to understand what is a more realistic or reliable news source, deeper research or education is necessary. This is why travel is important: deeper education on the real world.


2 thoughts on “America: Introverted Extroverts”

  1. I agree with your thoughts that people in American need to fight ethnocentrism (and racism) by visiting other countries for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, I fall in your statistic that 64% of Americans have never left the US (with the exception of a long weekend in Canada). I would love to have gone abroad, but it was just very unrealistic for my family, jobs and school got in the way. However, this past year my family hosted a high school German foreign exchange student. By bringing in a student from another culture, my family was able to understand and respect other cultures so much more. While she was learning English, we were learning about European culture and incorporating it into our lives as much as possible! And another cool part, we’re all visiting her in Germany for two weeks this summer. Hosting an international student is another great way for Americans to become more globally cultured,especially if traveling doesn’t work in their lives at the moment.


  2. I am also part of the large percentage of Americans who have never traveled abroad, although I am hoping to change that with a study abroad experience during my four years here at Wheaton. With that aside, I feel as though there are several factors contributing to our lack of extensive traveling. Besides individual circumstances that might come into play (money, time, etc.) I think that geography is also a factor that can be considered. For example, it is much easier to visit other countries while living in Europe than it is while living in the United States simply because there are more countries closer together. One could travel to Germany, France, and Italy relatively easily, while I can drive north from my hometown for upwards of ten hours and still be in the United States. Moreover, I think that the fear surrounding global terrorism can also be considered a factor, especially when thinking of recent news of more terrorist attacks. People are less willing to travel to faraway places now, which might help explain why fewer people do it.

    Nevertheless, I’m not trying to completely justify or defend this lack of traveling as a positive thing for Americans. I definitely agree with you that the more people travel, the more we start to break down our social constructs and realize how our culture produces the stereotypes that we live with every day. I am looking forward to experiencing a different culture firsthand and seeing the cultural norms I take for granted every day displaced by the customs of others.


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