Once you get out of the continental U.S. and travel abroad, it's easy to marvel at the differences you see in the countries to which you travel. Each has its own distinctiveness, its own charm, and its own customs and philosophies. Some of those may be the stereotypes we have come to believe based on our pre-travel knowledge. Some may be second-hand information gleaned from those who traveled before you. And some is based on your personal expectations of those nations. It is almost breathtaking to stand near an icon of another country, one that was previously seen only on TV or in magazines, such as National Geographic. Watching the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace. Crawling into the depths of a pyramid outside Cairo. Gazing at the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. Those varied places show their uniqueness, yet still have an air of familiarity to them, in part, based on language. Sadly, I am monolingual despite several years of high school French. But even with that handicap, I recognize the sameness of the languages of Europe, many of which are based on Latin. As a college sophomore I took a Latin class and through it have come to recognize the base sounds and some words common to the languages of such countries as Italy, Spain and many others. Of course, many of us have computer apps that help translate whatever the local language is into English. But sometimes if you think about the words you see on signs, in restaurants, etc., you might just be able to make a good guess as to their meaning. The commonality of words between and among languages makes that just a bit easier. We all like to think that we are unique, and we are as individuals. We are also part of a world that gives us commonality with others and gives us a sense of our place in a world much larger than ourselves. No matter where we have traveled or how many people we have met, we still marvel at our being both individuals and citizens of the world. It is that marvel that makes travel so much fun.
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