The popular novels and television series “Outlander,” about a woman from the 20th century “falling through time” to 18th century Scotland, France, Jamaica and America reminded me of my own experience of travel, falling back into an exotic, enchanting land of deep history and culture, Turkey, where citizens revered the Ottoman Empire.
And then, after two years, falling forward into a high-tech world of a country less than 50 years old, the United Arab Emirates, where citizens have little sense of history or of a past before the country’s founding in 1971. The country barely existed in the days before skyscrapers, freeways, the Internet, a globalized culture, and residents from dozens of nations. They take for granted startling architecture, the obsession with digital technology, the lack of roots to the past.
Sometimes in the UAE, I imagined I had landed in the ultimate modern nation, circa 2100, where national identity, in terms of where I came from, no longer mattered much. Yes, as an American I still found some “cousins” — Brits, Scots, Irish, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, Russians, French, Australians, South Africans, Mexicans, Argentinians, Ecuadorians most sympathico — but I also developed friendships with Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Turks, East and West Africans, and Indonesians. It was not so much a melting pot as a cultural smorgasbord.
- Life in Conservative Muslim Turkish City Reminded Me of America in the 1950s.
- 2500 BC to Today: Comparing, Contrasting Ancient and Modern Empires: After visiting ancient ruins and monuments in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, I felt that I time-traveled back thousands of years. I have often imagined what it would be like to time travel 2000 or 4000 years from now visiting ruins of the modern era.
- Culture Shocks in Traveling Abroad.
- UAE’s ‘Rags to Riches’ Story of Mind-boggling Change
- Imagining What Life Was Like Before You Were Born
- Time Travel (Google)
- Time travel on companion site “Slender Threads,” examining world history, the almosts and alternatives.
- Comparing cultures and histories on companion site “Slender Threads.”
- “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” TED Talk by Dr. Susannah Liscomb. Studying history can also give a sense of travel, to different mindsets, different ways of thinking, and different habits. Studying history is necessary to understand your travel experiences. As travelers, we can see problems in other countries that the natives are blind to; they can see problems in our country that we are blind to. The British author L.H. Hartley, in his novel “The Go-Between” reflected on the past as a foreign country, and we can do the same.