How Traveling Internationally Can Change Your Perspective

Beach in Labadie, Haiti

I was born in the United States

and my parents, Haitian natives,

decided I would too live in Haiti.

All throughout my toddler years,

my mother and I would travel to

various islands such as Haiti’s neighbors the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

We on many occasions visited the states to see family. Upon turning three, we moved to Florida and for a while, most of the traveling I did was domestic. Disney World was my summertime destination from ages three to eight. Those three and a half hour drives (from West Palm Beach, FL to Orlando, FL) honed my desire to #roadtrip. While in the backseat, I used to imagine myself years ahead in time going on a road trip with a boyfriend and friends. The imagined road trip around the US never happened, but instead I went on an overseas road trip with my mother and cousin.

Traveling Internationally

Submission by: Melissa Gousse

Edited: by Jennifer Sittig

A European Adventure

For my thirteenth birthday present, my mother decided it would be a good idea for me to see the world and put my middle school geography classes to work. We planned on going to thirteen European countries. My mother and a travel agent got together to plan our trip. She also invited my cousin to go along with us, which made the time even more spectacular. We flew Lufthansa Airlines to Germany, then to France. We stayed one night in Paris and the next day we took the Chunnel (the under water train connecting France to England) to London.

We spent a week in London at a family friend’s house. During this time it was July and to our surprise it was cold. We visited famous landmarks such as the Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. After our weeklong stay in England, we went back to France, visited the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, walked down Champs Elysees and rented a car. My fifteen year old cousin and I took the map to directed my mother on which highways and what streets to drive on to get to our next destination.

We went to Belgium, where we ate authentic Belgian waffles and saw the Mannequin pis; in Luxembourg we drank wine; in Holland we bought the best gouda ever, and I got my first glimpse of homosexuality where it was perfectly accepted and encouraged since the streets were closed and most businesses shut down for the 3-day gay parade.

In Germany we visited the Olympic tower and the Mercedes Benz museum; in Austria we saw where “The Sound of Music” was filmed; Switzerland, we ate lots of delicious chocolate; Italy, I became hooked on gelato. On this trip, my mother allowed me to have sweets morning, noon, and night. In Spain, we had paella and watched a bull fight and last, which we passed through, Andorra. Well, we did not make it to thirteen countries, but eleven was still a lot to talk about when I got back to school and entered into the eighth grade.

Vacationing in Haiti

Haitian Beaches in Labadie, Haiti. Royal Caribbean leases this port in the northern coast of Haiti and updated the spelling to Labadee.

The following summer, I went to Haiti for the first time that I can remember. Hearing my mother recount her wonderful stories of Haiti from her youth and comparing that with the media’s perspective of the #culturalidentity of Haiti, I took the media’s side expecting the worst. While I was expecting the worst, it was one of the best vacations I had ever taken. Yes, Haiti is in fact dirty, but so is Manhattan and I must say I love them both.

Despite what most may think, there is luxury on both small islands. In Haiti, there is gorgeous blue water everywhere, delicious griot (small cubes of fried pork) sold on the street, and beautiful paintings, pottery, and furniture sold at small galleries. The food is wonderful. My next traveling experience was to other islands in the Caribbean. I most recently visited Guam, a small island in the Northern Pacific. The island is 30 miles long and 9 miles wide with teepee-like homes as well as high-rise apartment buildings and well-known hotels.

My travel experiences have been remarkable. I have explored some fascinating places with histories that are dated hundreds of years back. From before

Haitian Art Work

my first birthday to now, traveling has been consistent in my life and I plan on it continuing to be consistent. The results of my travels have helped me to be an open-minded person and have the ability to embrace other cultures as well as my own.

Do you love traveling abroad? Post your pictures ,with a caption, of your travels on our Facebook and Instagram Page under #myidentitymag or #culturalidentity. Has Melissa's blog changed your perception of the cultural identity of Haiti? Share your thoughts by commenting and like this blog!

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