A Subversion of the Travel Essay

August 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Recently, the world of travel writing has been a buzz with an essay by a young woman called “Traveling to Europe Didn’t Change My Life.”  There has been much commenting, mostly negative, on this essay, but we wanted to share it with you because of how different it is from other travel writing (which, rightly or wrongly, tends to gush about the places and people and experiences and, in a real cliché, the food).

What we find most extraordinary about this essay is how it perfectly captures how aimlessness post-graduate life is in this time of economic trouble.  Recent graduates, more than most other groups of Americans, are struggling to find work, and if they are, that work is in things like unpaid internships or jobs that are  part time without opportunity for advancement.  Rolls, the author, comments that “If you can’t get a cool job right out of school and you don’t have a boyfriend with really nice hair the only way to remain socially acceptable is to travel.”  And it has unfortunately become true.

The only thing that makes us sad about this essay is that, when discussing the poor, she does not acknowledge that living in situations more similar to their own she recognized how hard their lives are or that poverty itself should be vanquished.  This is the only part of the essay that came off as a little self-involved.

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