Finding a Guide (Vámonos Vol. 13)

Experience cuts both ways. People often say they travel to “try something new” or “break out of a routine.” Novel and different things excite us.  Dr. David Eagleman said in an article in Current Opinion in NeuroBiology  “perceived durations can be distorted by… an oddball in a sequence,” put simply, doing something different can change the way we experience time.

On other hand, familiarity can make things easier to understand and enjoy. I once tried to watch cricket on TV, but the complexity of the game befuddled me.  I ended up getting bored trying to figure it out, and turning the TV off in frustration.  This is not because cricket is impossible to understand.  It seems like a lot of people play cricket, someone must understand it. But, without familiarity it is impossible to get a lot of cricket, much less see the nuance of the game (I am sure a European would have the same experience with baseball).

A guide can help short circuit this problem. A good guide is like a teacher with infectious enthusiasm. Their love for and understanding of what is fun about a subject, place, or sport bleeds over into you, the visitor.

A guide doesn’t have to be someone who wears a uniform, or a person that stands at a historic site all day waiting for tour groups. They certainly shouldn’t be a pair of headphones you can rent at a museum. It can be a friend or relative who lives in the place your visiting or even someone who doesn’t currently live there. They don’t have to know when the Louvre was built or how many stones are in the pyramids at Teotihuacan, a guide can be somebody who knows where to eat cheap sushi or what movie theaters let you drink.

When looking for a guide, use social media. Ask friends for tips for your trip. You might think you don’t know anyone who traveled to Korea, but how much do you really know about your 317 Facebook friends?

It’s true that life is short. There is not enough time to read every book, learn every language or play every game. There’s always more prep you could do. There is always someone who knows a little more than you do about whatever it is you hope to learn about.  But that is also the good news. Somebody knows about the place you’re going to and the things you might see. So take the opportunity to find that person and get a couple hints. That way when you get your break from the routine and are experiencing something new you can really enjoy it.


This article was originally published by Extra and is also available on their website. 

About Casey Brazeal

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