At 19 years-old, I dropped out of college for a second time, flew to Europe with the simple goal of hopefully learning to speak German beyond my High School level. I hitched around a while, joined and graduated from a language school (Goethe), but after 3 months, even though my German was better, I still felt very dissatisfied. I realized that I come to Europe to “see the world” yet I hadn’t. Europe really didn’t feel much different from the USA — or at least not in what I wanted to experience. So with $15 in my pocket, I threw my thumb out. Things began to really change in Turkey and 6 months later I was in India with a huge amount of dangerous, fun and fascinating stories in between. I returned to the US happy that I had made it alive and brought with me an education that dwarfed what I was to learn in college.
My son is 19 years-old now, in Engineering school and in Navy ROTC. Recently, via Skype, we reflected what I did at 19 years-old. My son, who is very curious, well read and interested in almost everything, said he had no desire to do “that sort of thing”. And upon reflection we both realized that we could not compare our desires at that age.
When I was 19 years-old, it would still be at least 30 years before teenagers would be able to explore the world through the internet. Unlike me, since my son was young, with a simple push of a button, he has been able to hear foreign languages, see all sorts of videos or movies showing other countries, other life styles. He has soared over the world with google earth and taught himself everything he wanted to know like computer programing, electronics, political science, physics, music and much much more. For me, any of that would haven taken great effort to obtain by travel and by many library trips.
My son may have touched his world much more deeply at 19 years-old than I had even after my foreign travels. On top of this, he has built robots, participated in many sports, and will be sailing on large Navy ships this summer. And heck, he even won a scholarship to Bolivia and Peru two years ago. No wonder he feels no desire to make such a fool hearty trip as I did. I am proud of my young man and have much to learn from him.