Advice to Globetrotters

Unless travellers are willing to leave national prejudices behind them, and ready to see whatever is characteristic and excellent in a foreign country, without finding fault because it is unfamiliar, they had better remain at home. … Americans are among the worst offenders in this regard.

– Mary Cadwalader Jones, European Travels for Women: Notes and Suggestions (1900)

I came across this quote last year while reading Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World (which, incidentally, I would recommend to just about all readers). Despite its age, I think the quote is just as relevant now – maybe even more so, despite our global interconnectedness.

This quote perfectly encompasses the kind of ethnocentric American I try not to be: the one who says, “that’s weird” instead of “that’s different”; the one who is constantly comparing her host country to her home country in a way that implies the latter is superior.

If you’re going to make the effort to go to a new country, learn to adapt. Not only will it not kill you, but it will make your experiences richer in the long run.


About Andrea Nicole

NZ enthusiast in the PNW. Internationally published writer, educator, grammar nerd, genealogist, and all-around storyteller. Recovering homebody. @Whitworth and @WGU alumna. #edchat
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