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Narrowed or Broadened?

“Travel broadens the mind.” It’s a quote that has entered our world more or less as a truism. But is it? Theologian Malcolm Muggeridge has a quote stating the opposite, “travel, of course, narrows the mind.”

When looking up these quotes, I came across articles and message boards espousing both. My experience. Both are true.

Recently, I had the experience of spending a week in Milan working in our office there. I’m the only American working with a team of Italians. Interestingly, of the eight of us, only two are men, which is common for teams in my company.

Why “travel broadens the mind” is true. This was a work trip, so it was 8-6 in the office each day. At home, I telework and before that had a 15-minute, 5-mile drive to our office. In Milan, I took the tube and took a bus. Some of the time, I walked to the tube station since it was only about half a mile in a safe area. Travel time was maybe 25 minutes. Honestly, I’m not sure how long it was because I enjoyed it so much.

The same went for the hotel breakfast. Cold cuts, cheese, bread, and Nutella. Italians have something superior to all other cultures (my beloved U.S. included). The default is either coffee (espresso to Americans) or cappuccino. Heaven will have this arrangement. There is a reason Italy doesn’t have (or need) Starbuck’s. Not when I could get a cappuccino and Nutella croissant for about $2.50. In general, the food was one of the biggest pluses. Not having to drive was another. I loved taking public transportation and easily reaching 10,000 steps per day.

My mind was also narrowed as I thought about things that I preferred in the U.S. like almost everything being less expensive to the exchange rate of the Euro (about 10-15% higher prices in Italy). Another are the cumbersome direct current plugs and outlets. Although, this has improved since my last trip across the Atlantic. Many of the plugs are more streamlined. The newer type outlets look like Dracula bit the wall (two holes).

This past week I played tour guide for one of my Italian colleagues as we spent the week working together. Traveling around one of my favorite cities offered an entirely different perspective. But that’s another post…

Have you ever traveled to another country? If so, where and what were the things you loved or loathed about it?

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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