Monday, April 14, 2014

Don't let fear stop you from traveling!

EDIT: The wolverine claw grip with keys is a BAD IDEA.  Read this article for a more practical self-defense technique



EDIT: This comic was featured by Couchsurfing.org, with a link to this page on safety advice.

I've received several nice messages from readers who mention that they're gearing up for travels and sick of friends and family raining on their parades about it.  They're excited to go abroad, and they just wish people could be excited for them rather than asking several times if they know how to use pepper spray.  On the one hand, you've got to remember that it comes from a place of love, and it's nice that people care about your safety.  On the other, dagnabbit, anyone over 18 has been hearing this stuff long enough to have all of those nightmare images in their heads already.  Knock it off and tell them "Congratulations".  They weighed the risks with their adult brain and they decided to do this.
Belleville Park is blooming and it's beautiful!
I recently registered to take the B2 DELF exam, which tests French language skills.  It's good motivation to keep me studying and improving my French while I'm here. I'm preparing for the exam with the TV5Monde online exercises. For anyone else learning French, I recommend the apps "Babbel" and "7 Petits Mots" for vocabulary, and the podcasts "Coffee Break French", "Daily French Pod", and "RFI Journal en francais facile" for listening/comprehension.
I went to a vide-grenier ("empty attic") sale this week in Belleville.  It's the Parisian version of a garage sale, but rather than one home's garage, it's an entire neighborhood participating in an arranged market day, with booths for everyone who signed up.  It was incredible!  The stuff you see in American garage sales (old ski boots, vinyl discs, books, clothes) plus CRAZY antiques.  I got a copy of Le Perfum and a hat for 4 euros total.  My friend found a working record player for 35 euros, and this BEAUTIFUL glass and metal inkwell/pen holder the likes of which I've never seen for 10 euros.  Highly recommended for a Saturday morning activity if you visit France in a warm month.  You can locate a sale on this site.  (I just looked up Paris today out of curiosity and there are 14 sales listed. Wow.)
Here's a little life drawing from the OFII offices, where I spent some time this week on visa procedural stuff (you'll be happy to know that I do NOT have tuberculosis, which is the main thing the immigrant medical check-up looks for):
Fun with braids!
BEAUTIFUL ukulele gift from the bf!  Aaaaaaagh I love it!  Look at that googley-eyed dolphin bridge!
I posted art this week from a few of my recent commercial jobs - these comics for a friend's TV show pitch and these portraits for a friend's upcoming book.  I also just finished a new comic book cover, and will post that as soon as it's announced by the publisher. :) I'm grateful that my work can travel with me like that, as long as I have my computer, tablet, and a wifi connection.  I've been able to keep working for my American clients abroad, and it makes a big difference in stretching my travel budget.  Now if only I could find some French work...I've got the nicest new friend helping me out with that and coaching me on a commercial illustration portfolio for French clients.  Fingers crossed!
Last but not least, neeeeeew sketchbook doodles!  I'm off to Strasbourg this week, and I'll try to come back with new sketches, photos, and stories. :)


135 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say that I'm sending this comic to nearly everyone I know, I (a young woman) moved to DC last year (which really did have a big crime problem1-2 decades ago) and everyone was trying to make sure I had the TRUST NO ONE mindset. And I've found that it also just wears on you, trying to be constantly alert and looking around, especially with the added implication that if something happens it's your fault because you could've chosen better.
    And on a lighter note your comics really make me want to travel to France now, curse my location based work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Helen, you're so right about the "if something happens it's your fault" mentality.

      Delete
  2. As someone who grew up in a super over protective family… I cannot tell you how accurate your comic is! Traveling & seeking new adventures are so important to our well being and choosing to deprive ourselves from such experiences should never be an option.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As someone who has done a lot of traveling and encourages everyone he knows to travel, this made me super happy to read, and I'm going to share it with friends and family who are wary of the things you once were of. Really amazing work, Tally! Now I need to go traveling again so someone can teach me about regional cheeses!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is really cool. I know some who can relate to this. And though I am on my own now, traveling around my country and miles away from my family, I wish to travel abroad too. Will share it to my friends :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this! I have traveled quite a bit as well and done many things outside my comfort zone, and never really thought of it as unusual until recently when people have asked about things I have done and gotten this wide-eyed look on their faces. I guess I have had some pretty amazing adventures and at times there were probably some scary moments, but I would never trade the experience I have for the safety of never going anywhere new.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It must be nice to be a rich white woman who doesn't have to worry about working eight hours a day and still fear losing your job, which prevents any form of traveling.

    It's also quite nice that you don't point out the inherent racism in many foreign countries that far exceeds what can be found in local cultures. If you're black or vaguely Arabic ("Muslim") you will get gawked at, given "innocent" comments and potentially assaulted.

    Check your privilege before preaching to us lowly poors and minorities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think she means it to be preaching to the poor. I take it more as "Don't be too afraid of life to actually LIVE your life."

      Some people will find ANYTHING to whinge about.

      Delete
    2. Says the white woman from Wisconsin pretentiously using the word "whinge".

      Delete
    3. Thank you, Steven for pointing that out. There are those of us in this world who do not have the luxury of thinking more about our our fear of danger than about the fears of others caused by the threat they perceive in us.

      Delete
    4. A bit strongly worded by Steven, but there IS a point behind what he's saying. The money thing is huge. My family is from Maine, and we were all piss poor growing up (and still are for the most part) I managed to get out. It was a terrifying thing to do - I packed up my crap and moved in to my buddy's apartment in Brooklyn. I ate Ramen and peanut butter for 6 months. Two years later I was backpacking around southeast asia with my girlfriend, but then again, I'm a white dude. The very picture of privilege, and being up on my high horse is great, don't get me wrong, but there are still obstacles, and it's what this article is addressing. I had to overcome the fear (thanks, mom) which was immense, but the money thing was also insanely huge too, and that took time. I had a lot of advantages that other people don't have. I'm bright (though uneducated) and I had a good network of friends, and few of the responsibilities. No kids, no car payment, no student loans.

      The racism thing isn't something I could personally speak to (again, white male privilege here) but even among white males, from what I gather, being Albanian can catch you quite a pile of shit in Europe. Nevermind being muslum or middle eastern in France.


      But again, the point of the article is not to let your FEAR of other people be the limiting factor in your experience in life. So let's not all get bent out of shape.

      Delete
    5. How about, "check your victim mentality"... thinking you're too poor/dark-skinned/blah/whatever to have adventures or take an unconventional path is a great excuse for sinking your life into the ground and keeping it there. You may have more obstacles to overcome than other people, but that also means you'll probably end up stronger than them if you try.

      Signed, a woman of colour who is living out her dreams by any means necessary.

      Delete
    6. The mere fact that you think traveling abroad is only for the western, white elite shows you have no experience abroad and are nothing more than a naysayer. The beautiful thing about traveling abroad, and this is traveling not vacationing, is not only meeting the locals but meeting your fellow travelers who come from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Australia and the islands, South America, and North America. So to say that only wealthy white people can afford the luxury of traveling is just one more example.

      Yes, cost can be a problem. But the only thing you are paying for is that ticket to your destination. Especially if you are traveling, you are going on a budget, picking up work where you can, staying longer than a week in some places to get some money, "vacationing" for a few days in other places.

      If you don't have children, then there is really no excuse for saying you don't have the funds. You do, it's just all tied up in tangible items. It's just a matter of priorities then - if you are going abroad for an extended time you don't need stuff. Sell it. Now you have money. But if owning that car and that latest, largest TV is important to you, then that's you choice. Don't criticize others who choose not to own those things in exchange for seeing the world. I own nothing more than clothes, and a few boxes of books and dvds in the states, and I wouldn't change a thing.

      Delete
    7. and props to Priya Vassi - the means are what makes it even more fun!!

      Delete
    8. One last thing, it's good we're not talking about the racism inherent in other countries, where if you are a fair white girl walking home at night you'll get mistaken for a prostitute in the Middle East, or if you're a white person in Asia, you'll get gawked at and asked for photos. It would be awful to discuss the inherent racism found abroad.

      Delete
    9. Oh jeez, wah wah. Yeah, it's nice to not have to worry too much, thank you. Tough shit if you'd rather play the victim. Your decision though.

      Delete
    10. Steven, not that you don't have some valid things to consider...but why did you come to a blog by a freelance cartoonist about her travels to berate her about her job and the funds and freedom it affords her? (I'm also fairly sure it's stretching to call her 'rich'-- once you cross the pond, it's pretty cheap to get around Europe if you need it to be, especially if you're earning money as you go.) I have a white-collar job that pays well, but a trip to Europe is currently outside my budget and allotted vacation time, but I don't begrudge Natalie her career and lifestyle-- where's the joy in that?

      As for your point about racism, that kind of relates to her point about "is it safe for a young woman to go there"-- is racism really all that different in America? Is any kind of bigotry? I'm white, but I'm also a queer woman and I've been gawked at, gotten comments, and felt my personal safety threatened for both of those things right in my hometown. While there are always local quirks and different levels of different kinds of bigotry in various parts of the world, your race doesn't automatically disqualify you from traveling to any given part of the world.

      Delete
    11. Steven, I'd like to add my 2 cents. I am a young black Caribbean woman who lived in Europe for 6 years. It's expensive (although I had help from a scholarship and Education in France is free so I didn't pay for that) and it was admittedly strange experiencing racism a couple times because where I come from I'm not a minority... Still, the author of this article talked about car-pooling with strangers (scary!), couch-surfing (which I have never done, largely because I think it might be dangerous) and sketching people in the street (which pride would never let me do, even if I had the artistic talent). She wasn't living a life of luxury... far from it... Furthermore, knowing what I know about North America (I have relatives there) I'm pretty sure racism is equally (if not more) present there. Lots of people of my ethnicity seem to develop strange and deep-seated complexes if they grow up there... so although I'm sure you're coming from a good place, I think your assessment of this article is a bit unfair.

      Delete
    12. You may wish to check your own privilege before dropping classist, racist, and generally assy comments, Steven.

      Signed,
      The poor not-all-white girl who can't wait to take her trip to France next year

      Delete
    13. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    14. I NORMALLY would be right along with Steven on this. The image of the privileged young white American who is totes cultured and travelling the world is a stereotype that often bugs me. Especially when they come back to the states and lecture their friends about how they just HAVEN'T LIVED until you've tried the fresh escargot in Milan.

      THAT stereotype though, is really different from what's being depicted here. This isn't a trust fund baby fucking around in Europe on her parent's credit card, this is a traveler who went places and did things. I appreciate that.
      I'm not a traveler myself, and this isn't necessarily a life I'd choose, but at the same time I'm not one to berate people for their life choices.
      Even if I DID meet the high horse white privilege poster children touting their superior life experience to mine, I'd more just roll my eyes and say "sounds nice" and then mock them in private :P Not to their faces (or on their blogs).

      Delete
    15. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    16. Steven, you said it yourself: FEAR. Fear of losing your job, fear of inherent racism, fear of being perceived as different. Well, tough. I grew up poor and made my own privilege. When I go back home I see plenty of people like you that just found it easier to accept things as they were. Sorry you don't have the guts to break out of your sheltered little world and try something different. Perhaps you wouldn't travel to certain places, but I've met plenty of dark-skinned "muslim-looking" people in Italy, Spain, India, Greece and England. They actually help change the perception of many people just by being out and being themselves. I know several people that have used a number of means to travel extensively YOU JUST HAVE TO WANT TO. Canada isn't that difficult or expensive. Maybe you just use this as an excuse to be limited. Enjoy the tiny, reclusive space you call a life.

      Delete
    17. Oh god Steven, i'm so glad you feel oppressed. Someone with that attitude deserves nothing but sadness and tragedy in their life.
      Signed, a Good-looking White CIS Male with medium funds. All i'm saying is, i'm REALLY happy you live a sad life. It would PISS ME OFF if you where to drop your victim attitude and get things you want. It would be horrible for me to see you try new things despite being oppressed. So by all means, please stay where you belong. Below me.

      Delete
    18. Why am I not surprised that several self-admitted cis white males/females are telling me, a minority, that I have a "victim complex" and feel "oppressed"? Maybe it's because, no shit, I'm a minority and experience this all the time even in America.

      As for you, DC Gypsy: you act like I live this extravagant lifestyle that is preventing me from living an even more extravagant lifestyle. Far from it. I have close to $10,000 in medical bills, no vehicle and fixed rent. I make minimum wage and am currently paying off a vehicle that I don't even have anymore. My life is not luxury vehicles and big screen TVs.

      Delete
    19. Nowhere in there does it say "stop being poor and go on holiday", though. It's OBVIOUSLY aimed at people who have the means and opportunity to travel, but are not doing so because of fear.

      Also, if you think being an ethnic minority in one country is a reason not to travel, you should probably Google skin colours in other countries outside America. And you should probably accept that in some countries it DEFINITELY IS more dangerous to be a woman than it is to have a different skin colour.

      You're basically unhappy and are completely misinterpreting everything in front of you. I'm sorry that your life sucks. Vote for a socialist party in the next election, and encourage your friends to do so.

      You could literally just leave. If life is truly terrible, get your arse over the southern border and never come back. At least you'll be doing something interesting and new for a pittance, rather than doing nothing in America for a pittance.

      Delete
    20. None of it matters. Go there. Or don't go there. Either way way you may regret it. (paraphrasing Kierkegaard)

      Delete
    21. Hey, Steve: Like you, I can't afford to go to Europe or travel right now, either. Unlike you, I'm not a whiny twit about it.

      Have fun nailing yourself to a cross, though. If you ever figure out how to get that third nail in by yourself, be sure to contact a good patent attorney. Then you'll be able to travel the world in style that would make even the most pampered billionaire writhe with envy.

      Delete
    22. I feel I have to wade in here and say that it is true that as western white people we are advantaged. I was very aware of this while travelling round India 20 odd years ago. A young (dark skinned can;t remember what ethnic race) girl joined us in some back packers place, and she had been raped. The only person I ever heard of being attacked there. I travelled up to Kashmir on my own, and had a fine time, however no local lady was travelling on their own and the people I met trated me like an honorary man - because I was white. I remember very clearly thanking god that if I was going to be born a woman I was born I white western English speaking woman - life was easier. Of course nothing is impossible and fear stops many doing many things, but our own perceived realities and issues are very often different to others, and in the words of the old saying until you've walked in someone elses shoes...

      Delete
    23. So, a "cis" white woman isn't allowed to tell her own story of overcoming sexism and couch-surfing in order to afford her stays?

      Delete
  7. :) I love this. I grew up in a tiny little town in Arkansas, and I met my boyfriend online 12 years ago. We eventually moved in together, and I opted to move from Arkansas to Madison, WI. I was thrilled about being in a different area, and terrified, at the same time.

    The whole time, all I heard from my parents was how I would be the next story about a girl being picked up, raped, and murdered. Or sold as a sex slave... I know its because they love me, but at the same time, it hurt that they thought so little of how they had raised me, and my own ability to think for myself.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I loved your comic so much! I think it is giving me the courage to do some thing I wanted to do. And whenever you want to come to Guatemala, you can crash on my couch!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, the level of entitlement here is just astounding. What are the odds that an attractive, young, probably cis, probably hetero white western woman might have the time of her life travelling all over the world and making friends easily? Who would have thought?

    I grew up in New York City, so I am no stranger to real, not imagined, danger. I am also a transgender lesbian woman of color, so travel for me isn't as simple as it is for a lot of other people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, I love NYC - Great city, Brooklyn too. No other place like it in the world. BUT.. I cannot imagine how challenging your life must be, never mind travel. I literally can't do it. How's about a trip to Russia? MM. yeah, not such a good idea. South America? Eh....maybe not so much. You could complete this list a lot better than I could. I'm happy to say, however, that the place I called home for the past decade is probably one of the most awesome places for you to call home too. I think that the point the author is trying to get across is that there are imaginary fears that people have that are getting in the way. Unfortunately, yours are all too real. Fuck.... let's all just take a moment to be grateful that you don't live in rural Texas.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, gee, how dare she be born white and cisgender and straight. She should just choose to be something else.

      =__=

      Delete
    3. And yet these attractive, young, probably cis, probably hetero white western women are taught that they'll have to watch out for predators at every corner.

      But yeah. We should all stop having fun traveling just so we can share in your misery. Dunno how that will help you, but hey, we white cissies could never understand anyway.

      Delete
    4. Visit Amsterdam, there's plenty stranger people than you here ;-)

      Delete
    5. dude, just getting out of your own country (or getting back in) can be a life-or-death struggle if you're trans.
      If you haven't gotten your name legally changed yet, if your state ID and your password don't match, no matter who you tell ahead of time, or what preparations you make, there is some detainment-happy guard who can't wait to throw you in a cell (often times a cell for the wrong gender).

      Travel isn't this easy for everyone and we need to be aware of that.

      Hell, I have a friend undergoing transition right now and he can't even get his DOCTOR to call him by the right name.
      His teachers have the same problem.

      I can't imagine what kind of heart-attack it would be if he tried to go anywhere outside the country.

      I haven't begun my transition yet, so everyone still sees me outwardly presenting as male, so travel COULD be easy for me... but as soon as I start any kind of therapy or try to change my name, all that will go away.

      Delete
    6. It pleases my greatly to see you suffering.
      You should continue to do so, right now and forevermore.
      Feel the oppresison, I bask in it!

      Delete
    7. Thank you for this. I posted a similar comment above.

      Fear of travel isn't as simple as the artist makes it out to be. If you're a non-white minority there's a very real chance that your experience will not be as pleasant as if you were a white man or even woman.

      The definition of privilege is the inability to grasp the perspective of a minority's day-to-day experiences with bigotry. The artist never even gave a passing remark towards how a minority might feel in a foreign country.

      Delete
    8. "The artist never even gave a passing remark towards how a minority might feel in a foreign country."

      Yes, because clearly she should have checked in with you first before daring to express herself.

      Delete
    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  10. My favourite is "What do you mean you went BY YOURSELF?!"

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm an old fart now, with twin toddlers, so I think my couch surfing and travelling alone days are over for a bit, but spending a week in Thailand alone, hiring random motorcycle drivers to take me to shops and temples, or wandering through Japan alone and staying in international youth hostels where I met awesome people, or buying a EuroRail pass and just _going_ to Italy for a week or France for a week were awesome. Everyone was friendly, and no one assaulted me. 8^)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This actually made me slightly reconsider moving from Paris. This is wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  13. thank you for this lovely comics..this one,i can show it to my father.. world is such a nice place to live and travel... thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can so relate to this. It's amazing how much people expect you to restrain yourself in the name of statistically unlikely dangers. I've had my mother panic about places I've visited in my own city, worry about the neighborhood where my official university-owned dorm was when I studied abroad in London, even asked why I "put myself in the situation" to have a 110% consensual not-quite-one night stand with a guy at a con who I ended up dating. I can't imagine what her reaction would be if she'd seen some of the hostels I've stayed in (some of them in co-ed rooms with strange foreign men! :O) I once trusted the man who owned one of the hostels to pick me and my friend up at the airport to bring us there! If I didn't take all these "risks", I'd have had a much more boring, insular life. There's risk mitigation and there's blind panic.

    Most people are great, and very few people actually wish even total strangers harm. It's good to be reminded of that even when you're not traveling.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So... What exactly do you do if you show up at a place where you intended to couchsurf and it turns out that the place you planned to spend the night at in an unfamiliar city is an alarmingly filthy dump? Sleep on a park bench? Wander the streets until morning? Fork over a few days' worth of spending money to stay at a hotel?

    This has happened to me in the past and it was sufficiently distressing as to turn me off couchsurfing entirely. (And yes, this person had a perfectly decent-looking profile.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As the website says on its Safety Basics page: 'Have a backup plan - Know your options. If something doesn’t work out with your host, make sure you have an alternate place to stay.' Always a good rule of thumb, although admittedly very frustrating when you need to use it.

      On the other hand, you say the person had a decent-looking profile; did it include multiple positive reviews from people who surfed with that person? If not, the fastidious couchsurfer might want to keep looking. And if it did, might that suggest that your standard for 'alarmingly filthy dump' is a matter of personal opinion rather than general consensus?

      Delete
    2. 1. Post in the emergency couch request group of the city.
      2. Find and go to a couchsurf event to get help from other couchsurfers
      3. Find a hostel

      Personally I never needed to use option 3 and I travel a lot with couchsurfing spontaneously without too much planning.

      Delete
  16. Awesome. Could have been reading for hours but your wonderful illustration work made it so simple and lively, your message is clear and I agree totally. Life is one leap-of-faith away.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love this. When I was in my late 20's I decided I really wanted to travel but I didn't know anyone who felt the same. At that time, in the early 1970s, it was just not the done thing for a woman to do. It was scary to set out on my own but I have never looked back. I cannot recommend it enough -- to everyone of any age. My only regret is that I didn't start much earlier and that I didn't get to Europe until 1990. Now I've been around the world -- literally -- and I'm a much better person for it. I'm more generous, kind, hopeful and relaxed than I would have been just sitting at home dreaming about seeing the world.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Merci pour ce superbe article. Je te souhaite de continuer à voyager et à t'éclater partout où tu iras. Et aussi bon courage pour l'apprentissage du français ^^

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm not big on travel. Seriously, no matter where you go, there you are. Traveling does not enable me to take a break from myself, so I do not feel the need to travel.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love this! I am going to Paris for 2 weeks in October. I was holding up with so much fear... all from the people around me telling me it is dangerous... pick-pockets, rapist... bla bla bla... after reading this. I feel that I really have to do what I wanted to do! Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck in your DELF exam!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow, I can't believe this wonderful piece is inviting harsh comments about the cartoonist's "white privilege" instead of engaging with the cartoon's message. I mean, that's kinda the heart of racism, focusing on people's external attributes over what they have to say.

    Would they have the same problem if the cartoon were made by someone else, say a young female friend of mine who's not white or even American, but does travel frequently and who shares a similar risk/reward approach to living life to the fullest?

    Anyway, I resent the implication that travel is a dream that can only be enjoyed by a small, select group of privileged white people. That is simply untrue, and I am living proof of it. Not to mention my many backpacker friends in Asia.

    And isn't this a work of personal expression about someone's real-life experiences? If we get to the point that people aren't able to celebrate experiences that not everyone in the world can enjoy... *sigh*

    And if you distill the cartoon's message to its very essence, it isn't even about travel, not primarily.

    This is an inspired and inspiring work, and I hope it will encourage many to travel, explore, take risks, and seek out adventure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly... thanks for remembering its not what's on the outside that counts but what's at the heart of someone. Great article, talented artist and a life affirming message for all people young and young at heart.

      Delete
    2. Oz, thank you so much for expressing so well what so many of us were thinking! I was upset when this creative, bold woman was being harrassed for expressing how she challenged herself in a way that she was taught over and over again not to. By expressing herself and telling her story in her comic she is encouraging and helping other women (and actually, i'm sure men) to realize that there are often fear thoughts put in our heads that are stopping us from experiencing wonderful things and if we realize that they are stopping us and we are brave and get past them, we can learn and grow and experience so many interesting things.

      Delete
    3. Here's something i found interesting about a spoken word piece on race.
      I'm a spoken word poet. My grandfather and 5 of my grandparents were born and raised in Ireland, so i was raised with Irish history and strong Irish pride. In the spoken word community it is really common to write about racism. In poetry slams pieces on racism tended to score high because, of course, the judges agree with how awful racism is. I never wrote a piece about racism because i felt it wasn't really right for me to because i hadn't had to face it and live with it.

      A friend of mine put together a book called "One Drop to be the Color Black," a chapbook with pieces written by her about what it was like to be black, african american, mixed race in America. After she was done she decided to do another book called "One Drop to be the Color Black - My White Skinned Friends Pieces on Race." She asked me if i would write a piece for the book. So i thought about what i might have to say about race.

      When i was in elementary school i came home one day and told my mom i had heard the stupidest joke i had ever heard. I told her the joke - "How did god make Italians? He took two pieces of clay and went wammo." A couple hours later she comes up to me and asks if maybe the second line was suppose to go "he took two pieces of clay and went WAP." I said, "sure. i guess it could have," but i didn't understand why that would be any different. That was when she explained to me what WAP meant and went on to tell me how she was raised in New York and that when she was growing up she wasn't allowed to have an Italian in her house. I had never heard of anyone being prejudice against Italians. It sounded so crazy to me. I wasn't raised with any racism, but i was well aware of how much racism there was in America.

      The Italian seemed so crazy to me that it was more jarring for my mind. I knew and felt that all prejudice was awful, wrong and should not exist, but there was something about a prejudice that seemed so crazy, that somehow made me realize at another level how truly crazy all prejudice was.

      It was like a male friend of mine who had always thought that women should be treated equally and knew that things were often more difficult for women. A great guy and really supportive of women. One day he came to me and said that the night before he had seen a show on tv where they had gone to an island where things were the opposite of here. The mens jobs weren't valued. Hunting and things like that were mens work which was not valuable like womens work. Men dressed up and primped and wore make up to attract the women. They were not taken as seriously as the women. Women held the power. He said it was so shocking to watch. He had always known that things weren't right in our culture, but he said that until he watched men being in the womans position that he didn't fully get it. He said watching the show was enlightening.

      When i went to write my piece i thought it would be good if i could talk about prejudice in a way that people weren't use to. In a way that might give them the extra oomph of understanding, like i got when i heard that my mom had been raised unable to bring an italian into her house. Continued -

      Delete
    4. Continued - So i used what had happened in my cultural history. I wrote how the Irish had had their land taken away and it was made illegal to speak Irish, illegal to practice catholicism, and illegal to teach an Irish person, so they had had to learn in hedge schools. How during the famine the british had shipped food away from Ireland, as the Irish died of starvation. I told how my Irish Nana had come to my sisters wedding and said, "sometimes these mixed marriages work" because my sister was marrying a british man. I figured that this was a prejudice that most people would have no experience of, so it would be something new and that maybe a new view of prejudice might help some people understand, even more, how totally crazy prejudice is.

      I have found out since i wrote my piece that the Irish were horrible victims of slavery. The slave traders went to Ireland and took large numbers of the Irish, huge amounts of the population and brought them to foreign countries as slaves. There are books written about how the irish and african americans had bonded over the similarities of their past because they had both endured slavery. But i didn't know this at the time, so none of this was in my piece.

      The thing that ended up truly surprising me was finding out that, people were angry at me because of my piece. They were so angry that i was saying that a white person could have been harmed by prejudice. They were so invested in minority meaning person of color, that they wouldn't even consider it. I was told that even a friend of mine who was in the midst of studying minority studies at college was angry and talking behind my back saying (without easily checking my facts) that what i was saying wasn't true. All this because what i was saying didn't fit what he wanted prejudice to mean and what he wanted white person to mean.

      Delete
    5. Yes, because we should only have a discussion on the cartoon that is within an acceptable prescribed range of discussions, and not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

      Racism is an oppressive institution. Saying racism is about "focusing on people's external attributes over what they have to say." and using that to talk about racism AGAINST A WHITE PERSON is extremely hideous.

      Signed, a white Irish woman.

      Delete
  22. You don't have to be rich to travel, I grew up in poverty, but at the age of 18 started to get jobs working in France. Everything from entertaining kids, to scrubbing tents with bleach, to interpreting, to being a housekeeper. The money isn't great, but it gets you there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah but again you're still taking advantage of certain mechanisms of privilege to do that. I'm autistic and I'm not able to do seemingly simple shit jobs like others can, I break down really fast. But you don't just need ot be autistic - some people just aren't as hardy as others with that.

      Delete
  23. I love that a friend in Cary, NC shared this with me. I'm in southwestern Germany, not far from Strosbourg! It's so cool to see you using your talent to help you travel Europe. I find it safe when I'm aware of my surroundings. I have to share this with my daughters, so they find the inspiration to do such things, too! Glad to see that you're not being overly careful, but living fully! <3

    ReplyDelete
  24. Amazing post! So creative and so much fun to read! I'm sure you've heard this from several other girls too, but it felt like I was reading something I would have written too. We have similar experiences (and I travel with a ukulele!)
    Thank you for sharing and writing this! I hope more women around the world get inspired to get out there and experience the world like we have. I for one am ape-shit happy right now, traveling the world... volunteering, couch surfing, etc... And getting out of my comfort zone was one of the best things I did for myself.

    Cheers to more blissful experiences!

    xo,
    Eartha

    PS
    My travel blog is http://www.earth2eartha.com :) Check it out and you'll see what I mean about us being similar :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. The idea about this is not letting things scare you and explore the world.

    If you're worried about money or about how people might treat you if you have to fork over ID: travel in your own country. It can still be fun. Especially if you decide to go out to the wild places. Hike trails, backpack, stuff like that. It's still getting out of your comfort zone and can be done for relatively cheap. I backpacked around the Midwest one summer and my friends and family all thought I was insane. (Poor little girl, all alone, in the woods. Isn't that how horror movies start?) But it was awesome and I plan to do more at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I admit, I am the "be safe" family and thank you for adding it is from love, but I am so proud of my world travelers and the places they have taken me!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hmmm. I've been a paid "naysayer" I mean, facilitator -- and I do totally get the whole "live your life" / "zindagi milegi na dobara" / #yolo!

    And what I've noticed about the cartoon, which is awesome is that she is respectfully and kindly and diversely interacting with her hosts, new friends and communities in the comic strip, and that is AWESOME. A++ Highly Recommended.

    What isn't shown is the "normal and acceptable dumb shit and boundary pushing that we do in our home/western countries" that we replicate these experiences in other countries (most specifically countries where conservatism is the norm and causes a form of intercultural discomfort) in unsafe, or unthoughtful ways. And most folks who can leave their countries have the privileges get them home immediately, or have supportive embassies if shit hits the fan.

    But what you don't see is what you leave behind when you do this shit. Vomit in the urns, creating an approval of transactional rape culture attitudes because you were gone tomorrow and you didn't realize that you "paid" for that "help" and the "payment" was completely "everyday normal" in your home culture, but was an actual "date" in this one. Or maybe you hung out with the interns only (comfort in community), and the tourist boys (comfort in service providers) thinking that this was the "authentic experience" (when its more the comfort of a "familiar experience" when the authentic experience is probably in home in bed before 10, and up for a morning walk around the lake before spending a day managing maids in the kitchen. Or maybe you came with couchsurfing community and ignored the pleas of your host organization's director and as a result, you told someone something, because you needed to say your excitement, and the people you came to help were threatened with violence and extortion. Or maybe you gave so much to that one farmer/villager/family that someone else in the village burned their house down/destroyed their project. Or maybe you came on a women's empowerment project and disempowered your entire organization. (These are all true stories that I have personally interacted with.)

    Anyway, basically the point is, take the time to learn about where you are going, or travel nicely and responsibly, behave like an ambassador, find and listen to your local advisers (sometimes listen between the lines) and remember the difference/balance between "leaving your comfort zone" and "trampling over local culture and systems that weren't prepared for your behavior" and "having an adventure" and "leaving the place worse than you found it." (or if you must cut loose remember what you feel you need that inspires the action, and set up a place/setting that treats it as a vacation from the daily traveling life that finds that comfort without causing damage and doesn't become a daily habit - ie, there are loads of expat alcoholics. :-( )

    Because lots of times, the adventure you'll actually have is in your heart if you let it. Focus on that...instead of the #yolo facebook updates and it will be like whoa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I... transactional rape...
      I'm going to patent that idea!

      Delete
    2. I read and re-read the line that starts out "Vomit in the urns" and goes on to say "transactional rape culture attitudes ...." And no matter how many times i read it, i can't quite figure out what is being said. I think if you wish to be fully understood that you should add some more detail for those of us not use to what you are speaking about. Also, you are writing very angrily about something that you feel is quite bad that is happening. It seems that if i could understand all of what is being said then i would also feel that the things that you are speaking of, are things that should not be happening. I do feel though that you are posting this opinion on a womens blog that does not seem to be doing what you are so angry about. Therefore it would seem more appropriate for you to write in an educational manner for those of us who always want to know the important cultural things that we should know if we are going to be traveling somewhere. Even if we are reading them in a blog about a different topic. I feel that since we can't be sure that anyone on this blog has done any of the things that you are very angry about, then your writing in an angry manner doesn't seem apporpriate. The parts of your post that i did understand sounded awfully. I can see why you would be so angry at people stumbling into a culture unaware and doing serious damage without even noticing. Leaving devastation in their wake and walking away carefree and happy thinking they had done well. I am sorry if it is your culture that people have come into and done this damage.
      I can tell you from an experience at home in america, not one while i was traveling, that mixing cultures can be confusing to some people. I met a nice young guy from the middle east (it's been years now, so i can't remember whether it was Iran or Iraq.) we went out on a nice first date. He brought me out to dinner. We had a nice time. He treated me with respect. So when he asked me out again, i said, "yes." This time things were very different. We went out and then he took me to his place to have sex. I was shocked at what was happening and he was confused. I talked to him about what was happening because it was all so crazy and offensive to me. He explained to me that he had brought me out to dinner, out on a nice date, and so now on this second date, because i was an american woman, we should now have sex. He didn't understand how american culture worked. If american women had sex with men besides their husbands, then to him they were pretty indiscriminate. He felt he had done what was neccessary for an american woman to now have sex with him. It was upsetting and scary at the time, but it all worked out well enough in the end. I got home okay. I guess he got another piece of information about dating american women. This is a story i have to add to how confusing it can be for people to interact with cultures different than their own.

      Delete
    3. I was confused also, but I did gather that he is referring to ambassadorships (where they send groups of young Americans abroad to "learn other cultures") and certain charitable organizations that send groups over for projects. Most of those ambassador experiences are entirely manufactured (they are also expensive); students come over and mingle with with "everyday folks" never knowing that those people have been carefully selected to represent their country always in a positive light, and are often threatened, coerced, or face dire consequences if they so much as breathe out of place.

      The organizations where you work on a project side by side with folks from the home country are often just as bad. It depends. A few are quality, but in many cases your labor isn't really wanted, and I heard of one instance where they had people building a wall. The American students worked all day "in harmony" with their fellows, but when they left for the day the company brought in laborers to tear down the wall and rebuild it correctly, because the unskilled labor of the students wasn't up to code and no one was willing to correct them and ruin the "experience". After all, it was the exorbitant fees that these Americans paid that gave everyone jobs to begin with, and allowed the structure to be built at all. So they'd come back the next day and the section of wall they'd been working on the day before had been properly rebuilt, and none of them were ever the wiser.

      In these kinds of situations, everyone who comes into contact with the wealthy tourists is heavily scrutinized, because they want the experience to only be 100% perfect. The tourists must leave thinking they have contributed in a meaningful way to the community, and must feel that they have bonded and made some wonderful native friends. They go home happy and recommend to their friends that they also participate in these programs, thus bringing much needed money into the country, or at least into the pockets of the powerful in these countries. The "everyday people" they meet and interact with remain at the end of an invisible, but all too real, whip.

      Delete
  28. I'm glad to see this article out there. ^_^ Fortunately, my mom somehow managed to strike a balance between teaching me that danger was rampant, and teaching me that fearfulness is not a good counter to that danger.
    I just came off with the idea, "Be the danger that dangers must fear." There are many tacks to take without amassing martial knowledge, of course, but for my part, I'm the sort of person who will take a walk in the dark on deserted streets with a guy I've known a month, talking until 4 in the morning... and have a knife in my pocket, with training in the use of it.

    I guess my guiding principle is, "Could I forgive myself for doing this, should the worst come to pass?"
    "Could I forgive myself for walking around up on this roof, if I fall and become paralyzed for life?" "Could I forgive myself for getting in the car if I crash and die?" "Could I forgive myself for walking along the canal in the dead of night on a whim if I were snatched up by creepers and never saw the light of day again?"

    Most of the time, the answer is "I could. I might hate a lot of things, but I would not hate myself for making this choice." And then, I do the thing. Occasionally, I wouldn't (particularly if I have a warning instinct rise out of the blue or what have you,) and in those instances, I naturally don't. But most of the time--ADVENTURE. *u*

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's all a matter of probability and statistics. Most people are just taught to minimize risks without evaluating the odds, which is great all purpose advice if you don't mind missing the thrill of gambling.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Nice blog, cool drawings !
    I'm a french 27 yo guy and love your work.
    Also am couchsurfer, carpooler and totally approve your message.
    Keep it up, and thanks !

    Max

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is to great,, So glad you took the time to put this together.This is definitely being tweeted to my readers... I have been traveling for 17 years and I still get these same questions,, "aren't you afraid to go there?", how did you survive?",:but you can't speak the language.", etc..etc.. Hats off to you...

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi!! I just published this on my blog. Thank you making it, it's amazing!!! https://eatingmyboogers.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/travel-stereotypes/

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh, yes! I'm in total agreement with the cartoon . Trust is a key factor in my life. Without it, you live in fear. I've been without a home and without possessions for 28 years.....traveling and connecting all over the world. I write about my life in: TALES OF A FEMALE NOMAD, Living at Large in the World. My rules for connecting: smile a lot, talk to strangers, accept all invitations, and eat everything you're offered!! And wear the same clothes as the locals! They work! Turns out the world is an amazing and wonderful place. My "homestay" organization of choice is: www.usservas.org. All the hosts and travelers have been personally interviewed and it's totally safe. There are 15,000 members around the world. I like it much more than Couchsurfing. Happy journey. Get out of that comfort zone: it's a trap www.ritagoldengelman.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. This cartoon basically confirmed something that had recently come to my attention about travelling and being a missionary. People die in all parts of the world, and can be nervous even to step outside of their houses. But there's no way to build friendships and show world that you love them if you keep yourself bound up in a room. You need to shine.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Natalie, thank you for your really nice comic with the great message. Women need to be encouraged to travel and experience the world.

    I was lucky that i had already been traveling when Taken came out. Otherwise, with that movie in my mind, i may never have started traveling all over.

    This is a small one, but one i struggle with all the time - i'll be out shopping. I'll have my purse in my cart and i will leave it for a moment to go get some grapes or a cucumber and people will think they are being nice by coming up and telling me i am doing the wrong thing and that i have to live afraid and that my behavior is going to get my purse stolen. I have never had my purse stolen and i decided a long time ago that i would except it being taken if that meant that i could turn for a moment without remembering to constantly be afraid. I feel that these people, caring as they are trying to be, are actually walking up to me and telling me to remind me to be afraid. I don't want to live constantly afraid. The price is too high. I haven't figured out what i can do in these situations. I understand that these people think that they are taking care of me, but they are not. They are reminding me to be afraid and that makes me angry becuase it happens to me all the time. I make the decision to not live constantly afraid and people feel it is their duty to come up to me and tell me i have to be afraid or i'm not living right. It would be wonderful if i could be zen and have their words not bother me, but it happens so often and they are so intent on making sure i walk away sufficiently afraid, that i don't know what to do to have it not effect me and i don't know what to say to deflect peoples constant need to tell me to be afraid for my purse. Be afraid. Be afraid. People don't think it is okay to walk up behind someone, say "boo" and scare them. I wish they also didn't think it was okay to go up to someone who has obviously made the decision to have their purse in their cart, and try and make them afraid. I think i've just come up with it. I'll carry a little sign and when i am in the store shopping, i will take the little sign out and hang it on my purse. It will say, "my purse is fine." Maybe i will even put a little "thank you" at the end. I can't believe a simple answer was there all along.


    Thank you so much Natalie for encouraging so many women to experience the world. It is so wonderful to travel and learn and experience. I've gone scuba diving at night in the great barrier reef, dancing till dawn in stockholm, seen bob dylan and the waterboys in Ireland, gone scuba diving with sharks in Hawaii, performed a spoken word feature at Shakespeare and Company next to the Seine in Paris, worked on a biologic farm and gone to the art festival Documenta and climbed the stairs of a castle in Germany, went mushroom picking in the forrest in Sweden, been on the BBC national radio in Scotland, been in Time Out in London, toured all over England doing spoken word features, went to a topless beach in the Netherlands, went to go to Amsterdam for three days and met a smart and charming Dutch boy and stayed for a year. And i never would have experienced any of these things if i hadn't been brave enough to fly away from the country i know and travel.

    Thanks so much for encouraging other women to experience some of the wonderful things we have and some amazing new wonderful things of their own. As Steve Forbert says, "You cannot win, if you do not play."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you ever considered that some people tell you that because the temptation of you purse is tempting them? Sure, some folks are genuinely just spreading the fear, but I bet a few are just asking you to remove your tempting bag from their purview. Leaving a purse unattended around a reformed miscreant thief is a bit like waving drugs under the nose of a reformed addict. Maybe a little compassion for those who want to not have itchy fingers is in order, and a compromise can be reached, like securing your purse firmly and visibly to the cart with a clip that folks can see, or having it in the cart but not the top basket.

      Also, my sister didn't get her purse stolen, but she did get her checkbook/wallet stolen from out of her purse when it was in a shopping cart. It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

      Delete
  36. Though I'm not travelling abroad anytime soon, I am going on a cross country trip from L.A. to NYC via train. And going solo. I understand some people's concerns because not only am I a woman travelling alone but I also use a wheelchair to live independently. I've done just fine the past decade in L.A. and its time to travel before its too late.

    I know the concern comes from a place of Love but its not going to stop me this time.

    You are a really great artist! Very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Power to you Katherine! I hope you have an amazing trip.

      Delete
  37. My daughter asked me to read this... She says the comic sums up her feelings at the time she was leaving but, was unable to but them in words at that time. She went on a year long trip from the US to Central America. I was afraid for her and thought she was not being careful enough. She made the correct decision. She went alone... she had fun, meet many folks, made friends, had many wonderful experiences, and saw many wonderful sights. This parent only wants his kids to fly freely, know no bonds, enjoy the world, share, love and live a long happy life. Sorry for not sharing my thoughts clearly before you left. Love to all.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Everyone should have some form of self defense technique. (1 in 4 females will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime). You SHOULD walk with one ear on the road. (It's good way to get hit... not paying attention at all). Safety is great :) It's pretty pointless though, if your going to be too scared to get out! It's a jungle out there.... GO explore it! :D

    ReplyDelete
  39. Please make this into a poster because I need to plaster it all over my walls as a reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing message. I would also like a poster to hang where I can see it every day, first thing in the morning!

      Delete
  40. I really enjoyed that cartoon. It has a good point. I am making a list of different fears that can stop us from living our lives. Let me know what you think - here it is: www.fearof.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I do know how to make links, I just pressed publish too fast ;) www.fearof.net

      Delete
  41. Natalie, you may already know of their existence, but there's an English language writers' group that meets on Saturdays above Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, run by my good friend David Barnes. I think you might enjoy it -- I know they'd love to have you there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Daen! I've visited Shakespeare & Co several times, but had no idea about this group! I see that I just missed the latest meeting, but I'll try to attend next week. Do you attend these nights? If you come up and introduce yourself to the shy thing lurking in the corner, I'll give you a copy of my book. :)

      Delete
    2. I haven't, alas, been resident in Paris for four-and-a-half years now, but I have stayed in touch with my lovely writerly friends I met there. Thank you very much for the offer of the book, though, and I just know that David & co will make you feel more than welcome -- I think any shyness should quickly pass.

      Delete
  42. I noticed you haven't been to India yet. You are welcome to stay with my wife and me when you hit Mumbai. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  43. This is awesome. I'm 60 and spent much of my youth hitchhiking cross country and had a blast! I met some wonderful people, a few creeps and learned that I could trust my instincts and make wise choices. Now I'm more into creature comforts when traveling and have made some choices so I can afford that but taking risks traveling, changing careers and lovers (another story) can give you a long and happy life.

    "A good life is long enough but a long life may not be good enough." Bernard Jensen

    ReplyDelete
  44. I wanted, after college, to get a group of my friends together to bicycle up the coast of California. Everyone flaked and I went by myself, it was awesome- I started at the border fence and road my way up. To this day people still ask me how I did it ALL BY MYSELF- as a 20-something woman with a credit card, it was pretty easy. I've had more skeezy and spooky experiences in the town I live in than I ever did traveling. We live in a culture of fear, it's good to get out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Seen shared by Couchsurfing.org on facebook. Love it. Thank you. Sending to everyone, sharing myself everywhere. Let us kow if you're ever in London :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Dood it's so true! Most people are awesome, and realizing you can go anywhere and meet amazing people is empowering and increases your faith in the world (not to mention also making it really really hard to dismiss non-americans as "not one of us"). Thanks so much for posting this story and the amazing drawings that went with it! Glad you made it out of the plastic box :) xx

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Natalie, just saying that I loved your post and artwork about fear/travels!

    I am from Brazil and I develop a project basicaly abot this topic too.
    I will be translating some of your chapters into Portuguese to share the message with my Brazilians followers - I hope you don't mind.

    The page on Facebook is:
    www.facebook.com/OpenDoorsAlineCampbell

    And if you're interested on the project, you can watch this video on Youtube - it is in English:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgh-aFOLLIw&hd=1

    Take care and congratulations for the blog!

    Aline Campbell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Aline,
      It would be FANTASTIC if you translated my work into Portugese! Can you send me a link when you post it so I can share it with people? :) Thank you!

      Delete
  48. Agree all around! When I was 17 (40 years ago), I went to Europe with a singing group of about 40 high school and college students. We were allowed to do some touristing on our own in the cities we visited (I mention this because we knew of some other high school tours where the kids where hardly allowed out of sight without a chaperone). I was cautious and normally not out late, but the worst thing that happened to me was an occasional rude comment and a guy pinched my ass. Stupid stuff, not tragic stuff, and nothing that interfered with my enjoyment of the trip. My husband and I have traveled frequently and wound up getting a great tour of Portsmouth in the UK 14 years ago from a guy we knew slightly on the Internet. Just be alert. The most common thing to happen is robbery, so be careful with your money and credit cards and don't keep everything in one place. Don't let fear of what MIGHT happen keep you from exploring the world.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I can so relate to this. I am willing to take risks when I travel alone. I was going to visit a friend of mine in Russia and my in-laws were all about "this is not a good decision", i.e. Female firends can ruin marriage, St-Petersburg is full of bad people, Transportation has to be thought through 1000 times, It is already too cold there, Where are you going to eat?
    I am still not quite sure why they told me all this, because I speak Russian, so I was not a complete alien to that country. I had a wonderful time walking around St-Petersburg ALONE while I was waiting for my friend to finish her work day. I have the dearest treasure from that trip - my memories (and lots of photos!).

    ReplyDelete
  50. The travel guide my friends and I aspired to follow...

    http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Peltons-Worlds-Dangerous-Places/dp/0060011602/ref=sr_ob_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398385284&sr=1-6

    ReplyDelete
  51. The only black person that you had meet on your travels was the one who asked you to take care of her suspicious bag?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Natalie, I have a question for you as a parent of a 16yo. I know this will be slightly different as he is a boy, but I think the age aspect is more important.

    You see, I have been telling my son that I want him to travel at some point after school. The question IS... after high school or after college? I have been thinking he'd benefit a lot from signing up for one of those live-abroad English language tutor programs. I know a few people who have done it, but don't have a feel for when he'd get the most benefit from it. He's already considered by many to be very mature for his age, so I don't think the experience would be one of maturing so much as enriching.

    Any feedback or thoughts?

    TIA - Paul (& Orion)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paul (&Orion),
      It's hard to say without knowing your son. FYI, when I was 17 I went to Japan for two weeks with a teacher and 10 classmates, and that was a FANTASTIC experience I'd recommend to someone that age. In college I went abroad alone for the first time, and that felt fine. I guess I would say that, for me, it was appropriate to travel abroad first in a group situation, and then I had the confidence and a little experience to do it alone. Maybe look into any travel opportunities offered through school or local programs. I hope that helps! Good luck to your family and thanks for writing.

      Delete
    2. This might be kind of late, but I thought I would comment anyway. I did an exchange year in US (I'm from Finland) while in high school with YFU. Even if your son is mature for his age (I was too), he will grow up. You just will living in a foreign country without your parents. Even if you are staying with a host family, which is a safety net, but still, you grow up. I can't recommend this enough. I think high school was awesome, then I went to Moscow in uni. If it's about money, I would go later as many of the universities have exchange programs and you get scholarships (this of course depends on a country: I come from a country with free education, so I know I'm privileged here). But since you seem to think he's going to uni, I think this is not a problem.

      Delete
  53. As a queer, mentally ill-transwoman, this advice doesn't really apply to me at all and it makes me sad that people are high fiving themselves over basically telling people like me to shut up, which is sort of what oppression is in the first place - other people having more of a say in how you live your life/your experiences than you do.

    I would love to be able to travel more but I genuinely do not have the money and "working around" for me would almost inevitably mean sex work. There is a reason why so many of us transwomen turn to sex work and when you make it about personal responsibility or just a lot of incentive it makes me really angry.

    I just feel really depressed now, this reminds me on everything I'm missing out on that others take for granted.

    Maybe instead of re-assuring people who are mostly relatively privileged, we should strive to try and make sure others can enjoy it too - try and keep our economies relatively equal, have good care for people with disabilities, work against institutionalised racism, homo/transphobia etc. I feel like glossing over the fact that it's not that simple for many of us is a form of erasure in of itself and it just feels really horrible.

    I know most people see it as taking this wonderful message of self assertion and shitting on it but that's because you pretty much lack empathy or perspective and it sucks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's okay to feel unhappy because this doesn't apply to you. It doesn't apply to me either, but we can still get some takeaways from it, truly. Sure, travel for transfolks, especially outside of the country, is exceedingly difficult if not impossible depending on the country. You can go some places but not others. And travel is bound to be expensive regardless. Being poor sucks. And you are right in that your job opportunities are limited. This girl has a talent we can't all possess, which enables her to schlepp around and make money on the street, at least in sections of Europe.

      Don't sell yourself short. You are already doing a brave new thing every day you step out as a transwoman. This cartoon is about not living your life because of fear, and in the end it really comes down to weighing the odds. For you and others, the inherent danger possible is such that doing the thing isn't worth the freedom that comes with it. But the minute you said to yourself, "it means more to me to be true to my gender than it does to be safe" you did exactly what this cartoon describes. You weighed freedom vs. safety and found that freedom was worth more than safety.

      And really, that's all this cartoon is about, freedom vs. safety. And where some of us have been taught to fear at an irrational level, so that we curtail our own freedoms well past the point of reason. Her level of safety, of what her freedom is worth vs. what it takes for her to feel safe, is different than from everyone else. It is unique to her. Neither you nor I can identify with that, but that's okay. What we can take away, still, is where in your life are there places where you may be giving up freedoms that you don't have to, because you want that feeling of safety. Are you isolating yourself? Do you stay at home more often than not? Do you choose not to make new friends because you are worried about how people will think of you? Are you afraid to approach new people or try new activities?

      Will you encounter some rough shit, things and people who make you want to run for cover? Yes. But figure out now how you are going to handle it. Run it through your mind a couple of times, and then go out and do those things you want to do. You might not be able to see the pyramids, but you can join a new bookclub, or sewing circle, or take up Ultimate Frisbee, or whatever it is you are holding yourself back from doing, because you are afraid of how people are going to judge you.

      And that's a kind of fear, and an awesome kind of courage too.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Whenever I run into advice that doesn't apply to me, I just generally get on with life. I'm a white cishet male who can't afford travel right now, but I've somehow managed to figure out that the world doesn't revolve around what applies to me. Amazing!

      Delete
    4. @Jadxia - your kind reply was beautiful.

      Delete
    5. There's a saying on a lot of websites when stuff like this comes up-- "If it's not about you, it's not about you."

      Everybody has their own challenge to grapple with. This is the author's challenge. Other people have other challenges.

      Delete
  54. This is super! When our friends and family learned we were taking the kids to Thailand, the folks who had traveled internationally said, "Woohoo! You're going to have a blast! Try the fish spa! Do a sky lantern! Eat everything, it's all fabulous! Get a pedicure from a ladyboy!" My friends and (especially) family who hadn't traveled much were all, "Eeew. What sort of shots do you need? Don't eat any of that food, you'll get poisoned. Don't swim in the Indian Ocean, there's ... um, snakes! And all the monkeys have rabies and also plague!" But the most disturbing thing my armchair traveling, childless sister said to me, every chance she got, was, "Don't let your daughter out of your sight, she'll get kidnapped and sold to a brothel." Unpacking that assertion was like peeling a rotten onion. Xenophobia and sexism and mom-judging. We had a blast, by the way. I ate crickets and she got a pedicure from a ladyboy.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'm working in Malaysia atm- the funniest thing was how my local workmates talked about northern Europe being unsafe, while my family from the EU was worrying about the exact same thing for me being here. People will always be people, no matter where you go!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Awesome stuff. And yes, people all across the world are pretty similar, especially mums (I'm 31 and my mum still warns me about staying out late--despite having married, divorced, and living independently--in one of the safest countries in the world). When I graduated from university, my friends invited me along for a three-week long backpacking trip across Vietnam. Knowing my mum would never give permission if I asked, I did the most rebellious thing I could think of at that point: I bought my ticket first, and then later casually mentioned that I was going. Needless to say, mum blew a gasket. Among all the things she said (including but not limited to calling me 'irresponsible', and informing me that I would have to pee in dirty toilets), she yelled "if you step on a landmine, don't expect me to come and get your body!"

    ...uh okay mum. If I stepped on a landmine, you probably wouldn't need to come and get my body.

    It was the best 3 weeks of my life up to that point. And yes, I learnt how to pee in dirty toilets (and also in public, where there is no toilet for miles)

    Anyway, if you want to come to Singapore, feel free to contact me! I'll give you a local's tour of the country :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. You're awesome! Love your work...

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thanks for this wonderful post, which I found through a friends facebook post. Your comic is so vibrant and engaging. I look forward to seeing more of it. Thanks for being adventurous and sharing your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I love this post!

    I was dating an English guy (who I met in America at a bar while he was touring the US in an RV), went to stay with him for 3 weeks, we saw an advanced screening of Taken one evening. The next day his friend was supposed to take me around his town but didn't show up in the morning so I logged into CouchSurfing and sent out a message to see if anyone in Cheltenham could give me a good recommendation for a place to get a good cream tea and left my UK mobile number. Within 10 minutes my mobile rang and I was asked what my nearest point of interest was, then he offered to meet me there on his lunch to give me a quick walking tour of High Street which ended at a nice coffee shop. The reaction of my then boyfriend that evening, "TROUBLE (his nickname for me because I was always doing things like that), are you sure he didn't follow you to the flat? You could have been taken! I can't leave you alone for a minute!"

    Well, that relationship didn't last, but 6 years later I'm still great friends with the CouchSurfer and just recently stayed at his flat for 3 weeks as my homebase while I explored England by rental car and celebrated his 50th birthday in 4 days of stylish events!

    Thank you again for your comic and story - totally awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  60. I'm Brazilian but grew up in Canada. About 10 years ago I decided to take an internship at an NGO in Rio (not my home city). Unfortunately Rio has a pretty bad reputation for being an unsafe city. All of my family including my Brazilian boyfriend (who lived in Brazil but in a different city) went NUTS. Everyone was concerned about my safety and worried that something horrible would happen to me. I still went and had a fantastic time.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I love this! My husband and I just got back from traveling the world for 2 years, and even though we were traveling very securely and in a pair, our journey really awakened me to the satisfaction of trusting people. You've really captured a lot of my own growth process in this comic. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm also publishing this on my blog. In less than 3 weeks, I am leaving for my long-awaited pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain. My son-in-law is beside himself. He is terrified I'll be kidnapped and beheaded by Islamic extremists. (?) He is also afraid my husband is "letting me go," for some sinister reason (that just ain't right!). I love you for publishing this. THANK YOU! No one can live an extraordinary life without going to extraordinary boundaries.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Loved this. I'm not sure I'll ever get the chance to couch-surf (I'm almost 50, married and have some life-threatening allergies), but I hope if my almost 19 year old son tells me he wants to go travelling this way that I'll encourage him and send him with some practical pointers rather than discouraging him.

    ReplyDelete
  64. This comic is amazing!! None of my friends have the funds to travel overseas so I’ve been looking at my options and it seems travelling alone is the only way ill ever get anywhere. All I here from my parents is that they wont let me, its not safe etc. but its better than being home, bored, doing nothing and not ever seeing anything! We are responsible for our own safety at home, and we are responsible for our safety if we decide to travel! Ill definitely be showing this comic to everyone! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  65. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I am 56 years old and walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 1 week. My family and friends were horrified to learn my husband was not going with me. "You mean you'll be ALOOOOONNNEE!" I can't explain to them that the problem might be finding space to actually be alone because I'm going during the peak visitor season. That those who travel the Camino become a family. I hope you don't mind that I've posted this on my blog for my friends and family to read. It's not just the young women who are put on a shelf to be kept safe.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I love your post and drawing! ^^ I think it's pretty funny.

    I travelled a lot after high-school too: in Belgium, Italy, USA,...
    You should have heard my grand-mother! She was already burying me! ^^

    But it went ok and I had a grand time! I loved to meet people from all-over. When you open yourself to others, sometimes you get burn, but much more often you end up befriending people who may have intimidate you a bit at first or know people you didn't thought was interesting or you had much in common with. It's great! It make me want to hugg humanity XD

    I come from Provence so I hope you liked it and met cool people! (You should come back during summer at least once, if only to hear the sound of cicadas. It's like Provence but in your ears ^^)

    ReplyDelete
  68. Allow me to lend my voice you the many commending you on your marvelous message. I've raised two daughters and done my best to encourage them to be travelers (and sometime-risk-takers). I've linked to this page from my blog.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely drawings.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Loving the comic!! I spent the last six months travelling in the Netherlands and I'm going to be working in France from September. I also had a mindset of risk, but once you travel you realize that mostly, people are good!

    ReplyDelete
  70. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Oh jeez, wah wah. Yeah, it's nice to not have to worry too much, thank you. Tough shit if you'd rather play the victim. Your decision though.
    Tempo Traveller Rent Delhi

    ReplyDelete