Most students have set rituals and timetables throughout the year. The very nature of taking classes is one reason for a timetable, and the daily rat race of jobs, errands and trying to keep one’s house presentable (at least to the eyes of peers) makes up for the remainder of these rituals. The winter break, though, is one of those few exceptions when nearly all students leave campus to return home or try to spend some time with good friends and break out of their monotonous routine.
This winter break, I was especially lucky. My wife got vacation time over Christmas, and for the first time in two years, she joined me on my trek to Germany to visit family and friends I hadn’t seen in months, and in some cases, years.
I had been looking forward to the trip for months, but it wasn’t until I spent four hours waiting for my connection flight in Newark, N.J., when I realized even how much of a routine this yearly journey had become.
It’s always been the time of the year when I take stock of what has happened in the previous one. Having 20 hours with nothing to do but sit gives me ample time to do this.
But this time I was sitting in a restaurant munching on a vegetarian burger just like I had done on a trip last summer, a trip last Christmas and at least on two other such trips. It seemed almost comical that an international trip of several thousand miles would become routine so quickly.
I’ve always liked to travel and almost always do so in a relaxed fashion.
Some find traveling stressful because so many things can go wrong. To me it’s usually a quite calming experience because it’s one of those few times in your life when you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
To me packing the luggage is the stressful part. Once I’m on the way, it’s not that daunting anymore. Admittedly, frequent flyer miles that garner the occasional traveling upgrade make it even more enjoyable. So does an iPod with a 20-hour battery. And if something goes wrong, screaming and yelling usually is the worst thing one can do, so why even bother?
That the New Jersey airport is boring is not the problem. The whitewash of globalization has made all airports look alike a long time ago anyway. But once I contemplated the year 2005, very few things stuck out and most of it seemed routine.
I find this a bit troubling. I am, after all, still in college, a time when being exposed to new and hopefully intriguing ideas shouldn’t be the odd exception.
By the time this column will hit the newsstands I will have returned to Tampa and (barring my luggage being sent to Kinshasa again) will be ready to settle into the daily routine of going to classes and cramming for exams. But this time I’ll try harder not to fall into the routine that much.
And if that fails, there is always another trip to look forward to next summer.
Sebastian Meyer is a senior majoring in political geography.