Travelling: Social Curiosity Today and in the Regency

I just got back from San Francisco this week (awesome city, lots of fun).  While traveling, I’ve been going through a travel book written in the Regency in c.1804, “Letters from England” by Robert Southey.

Essentially, the author notes and observes some of what he considers oddities he encounters on his travels through England, largely London. Which made me consider how similar this is to every traveler’s experience, whereby naturally we find ourselves comparing the unexplored and unfamiliar environs with our definition of “normal” – that is, our experiences back home.

Now, while I didn’t encounter some of the oddities Mr. Southey did in nineteenth century London, we both observed a way of life and a city different from what we were familiar to. And certainly, we made observations and came to conclusions that my have been erroneous, made simply because we didn’t understand how to interpret what we were seeing. I would expect that a visitor who came to my everyday world would likewise find things occasionally odd and unusual which I take for granted.

And while I try to come to new surroundings with wide eyes and an open mind, there is, I believe, an inherent amount of distance and prejudice we bring with us that is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to leave behind. We bring with us all of our experiences and life that, up until then, have defined “normal.” And it is this same definition which allows us to compare old experiences with new, the familiar with the unfamiliar.

Is this a bad thing, or simply part of our human experience? What do you think?

Sorry for the short post this week – like I say, just got back, still trying to settle back into “normal” when I want to stay in vacation-mode. 🙂 Have a great week, thanks for reading, and happy writing to you all.

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