The Ignorant Traveller

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Me and my friend, Nikita, before we boarded our flight

Ignorance is bliss – a phrase commonplace in everyday life and a phrase I successfully shot dead in the water when I went traveling. It’s no longer unusual for a teenager to fly off and see the world, and so I felt confident in my capability to travel safely, just as my friends and siblings had before me. I refused to adopt a blasé attitude, stocking up on every medicine Boots had to offer, purchasing a very inconspicuous and horrifically un-stylish fanny pack and forking out for overcompensating insurance cover. Unfortunately, what no online traveling guide or experienced friend could advise me was to bring with me my common sense. As soon as I left the plane I went straight to the water fountain to hydrate myself and put on a pair of shorts. Whilst I’ll save you from the details of the former, my inconsiderate clothing in the long term was probably the main cause of the majority of my distress abroad.

“Bad skin”, “Go Home” and “Cover up” were phrases commonly directed at us, followed by the tuts of men and the sniggers of women as my group (made up of 15 English teenage girls) roamed the streets of Morocco. Whilst at first we tried to laugh off the comments, I think we soon all became ashamed of our ignorance, especially those amongst us which had raided the short department of Topshop, where flashing some bum cheek was classed as fashion.

The abuse and rejection from the Moroccan civilians in less touristy areas was met by a mixed response from our group. On the one hand, English girls may need more education on how fashion should be used to leave something to the imagination. Also, as visitors to their country, we all felt rather ignorant about our lack of awareness of their culture and religion. But on the other hand, it was bloody hot.

It has been suggested that the Zanzibar acid attack on Trup and Gee was motivated by locals disagreeing with their scant wardrobe choices, which really emphasises the importance of travelers being aware of other cultures not only out of respect, but also for their own safety. So, whilst I don’t want to comment on Islamic culture or religion, I can comment on fashion. You can tan those legs up when you’re on the safety of your private balcony, but if you want to be met with smiles not sneers, then invest in a scarf and maxi skirt!

Don’t believe the rumors, if you show off a bit of skin you won’t be bought at the price of 3 camels, you’ll be asked to leave the country.

Anyone Can Be Charming

With Valentines Day fast approaching, I think it’s fair to say some of us are feeling that growing urge for companionship starting to slowly surface. What is it about these clichés that gets us going?

At such a time, it is easy to fall into the arms of the first guy/girl who looks our way. We may start dancing that little bit sexier, actually ironing our clothes before a big night out and spray on that extra spritz of perfume. And, hey, guess what, the majority of people are on the same wavelength. So, with the aura of desperation filling the air of clubs, our chances of finding that lucky Valentine may actually be on the cards.

However, anyone can be charming, and we do not need just anyone. More than once have I gone for the ‘safe option’ or the ‘nice guy’. Sometimes it is far too easy to attach yourself to the first option, rather than wait around for something worthwhile. Charm quickly wears off and soon the irritating habits and the dodgy haircut you tried to ignore will be all you can focus on. Effectively, you become the bad guy for hurting the nice guy.

So, maybe this year we should not fall into the same dangerous pattern, because perhaps the solution we’ve all be looking for is much more simple than we think. Here is what I propose:
– First and foremost, ladies, let’s not watch Bridget Jones with a tub of ice-cream this year.
– Avoid The Notebook like it’s the plague.
– Think about the sense of relief and escapism after a break up when you realise you actually love single life. Lets try and focus on how fun that is.
– Be with friends, be independent be career focused or be promiscuous. Be whatever makes you happy. Just don’t be sucked into the media spiel that indoctrinates you with the outdated notion that a woman needs a man to complete herself.

Having something is not necessarily better than having nothing – especially when it comes to relationships. And look at the bigger picture, because you don’t have ‘nothing’. Focus on what you do have and you will feel much more content and fulfilled in the long term. If the sparks aren’t flying after the few first dates, they probably never will.

It’s 2013, aim higher!