Because French Fries Are Better Than Pommes Frites
Pardon my French
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 17:09
One thing I’ve noticed since migrating to the Hilltop is how many of my classmates have travelled internationally. Without including the international students themselves — who would skew these conclusions even more — it seems almost everyone I meet and talk to has had at least some experience travelling, studying or even living in a foreign country. This isn’t the oddest occurrence, as many of these students are drawn to the School of Foreign Service, but the frequency of these experiences startled me.
Growing up, my family vacations were a little less culturally diverse. Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my mother has planned and executed awesome adventures within our good old U.S. of A. This isn’t to say that we don’t want to go abroad, but living in the Southwestern-most corner of the United States makes travelling to Europe an absolute nightmare with plane flights for 18 straight hours or more.
Now, Nicole, you may be asking, the Southwestern-most corner? Isn’t that awfully close to Mexico? Doesn’t Mexico count as a foreign country? Couldn’t you have gone there? The answer to all of these questions is yes, but my family never did make the trek across the border. This mostly stemmed from my mother’s deeply ingrained, personal fear of Mexican drug cartel violence, which has been increasing over the past few years. When horrific violence and murders less than 30 minutes away appear on the news almost daily, some paranoia is to be expected.
This combination of the impracticality of Europe with our unwillingness to head south led my family to travel to over 30 states before I turned 18. I’ve had some really unique experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
I may not have seen the Notre Dame de Paris, but I did get to visit the only real rainforest in the contiguous United States. And while I have never walked the crowded streets of London, I have hiked up mountains, danced on deserted interstate highways and seen the world’s largest potato chip at the Idaho Potato Museum.
How many Georgetown students can say that they have traveled in Italy? Probably a lot. How many can say that they have visited the Mitchell Corn Palace, the world’s largest drug store and a world-famous reptile world while driving through the vast emptiness of South Dakota? I would bet not nearly as many.
While my classmates’ international proclivities certainly help give Georgetown its unique flavor, I like to think that mine do, too. Because, for all the foreign places they’ve seen, I’ve seen things that are equally as fascinating and strange — maybe even more so. I’ve seen small towns and big cities. I’ve seen the beautiful and the bizarre. I’ve seen all these individual bits and pieces of our country, and everything I saw was American. Only in America would we place a seven-foot-tall statue of a jackalope mere feet from a giant mechanized Tyrannosaurus Rex.
While attempting to fit in on this campus, I was initially afraid I would be seen as “uncultured” or looked down upon for my lack of international travel, but I’ve discovered the opposite is true. Stories of feeding wild donkeys out my car window and of three-hour traffic delays caused by migrating bison herds — with calves — have made great conversation starters and served me valiantly during the obligatory NSO “two truths and a lie” icebreakers. I can’t wait to see more of our weird homeland, and hopefully I’ll add even more crazy towns to my list of places I never need to go again.
Nicole Jarvis is a sophomore in the College. PARDON MY FRENCH appears every other Friday in the guide.