195 Countries in the World, How Many Have You Seen?
By Kira B.
195 countries, 4,416 cities, 1,000,809 mountains, 117 million lakes, 7 oceans, 6,500 languages and about 7.53 billion people all coexist in this world.
This world has so much to offer, so many things to learn, experience, and discover. It’s imperative that we go outside of our own towns and comfort zones to understand the world we live in.
Ever since I was little, I’ve had a dream to travel the world. I dreamt of becoming fluent in a second language, moving to a foreign country for a year, and immersing myself in a culture completely different than my own. I dreamt of having an understanding of the world that I live in.
I’ve always found myself struggle to find curiosity in the things I learn in school. Going the extra inch on my own to really understand something in depth has never really appealed to me. This planet and its people however, I can’t stop thinking about. I am just so dumbfounded by how different two lives can be due to location.
My life, for instance is completely different than that of a 16-year-old girl living in Jakarta, Indonesia. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we live in the same world, but our opportunities and lifestyles are incomparable.
With technology and the news at my fingertips, daily, I can read about violence and problems in any part of the world. According to The New York Times, on October 21, rebels in Congo killed 15 civilians and abducted 12 children in the center of the latest outbreak of Ebola. On the same day, 55 people were killed in Central Nigeria in a new eruption of communal violence, and a train accident in Taiwan killed 18 and injured about 170.
This information is undoubtedly terrifying, and it turns many people away from having a desire at all to travel to these places. These news stories create a reputation for a city, a country, or even a group of people.
When I think of Guinea or Niger, without a second thought, poverty and famine comes to mind. When I think of Israel or Syria, I think of extreme religious beliefs and violence. I have created an opinion on these countries based on their memorable news stories, and I’m sure many Americans have as well.
Guinea, Niger, Israel and Syria are all so much more than their scary news stories though. They are their people, their culture and their beliefs. They are their beautiful landmarks and their history.
I understand that there are places in this world that I simply can not safely travel to as a woman and as an American. According to www.forbes.com, Mexico, for instance, ranks number one in the most dangerous places for American Tourists, holding 28 travel warnings. Mali, Israel and Pakistan come in close second. Those places, for now, may have to wait until times or circumstances change.
But as for the others, the countries, cities, villages and towns that are out of my comfort zone, but that I can travel to safely, I believe they deserve my trip.
I want to understand what’s past the news and the terrifying headlines. I want to meet the people, experience their days, and live a week or a month or a year in their shoes. And then I want to create my opinion.
How else can we truly understand something without experiencing it ourselves? And how can we truly live without experiencing as much of this planet as we possibly can?
In my opinion, we can’t.
As of today, I’ve only been out of the country four times, having visited Ireland, Canada and the British Virgin Islands twice. I can’t help but wonder what it’s like in Japan, France, Iceland and Morocco, but one day I hope to be able to tell you.
I look forward to travel in college and after and learn how to communicate with people whose lives are completely different than mine.
Travel is so important as a citizen and as a human being. We must immerse ourselves in different cultures and lifestyles when given the opportunity, in hope to understand our world.