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  noun 1. The act of immersing oneself in other cultures without crossing national borders. 2. Local cultural diversification. 3. Traveling on a budget. 4. A website that will allow you to accomplish all the above from the very seat in which you sit.

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31.8.06

NYC to Italy: truly bh-ing, continued

posted by Jamila

(read the first part of this post)


photo by seedisip


... la storia... non è come un altro città del mondo. ("... the history... it is not like any other city in the world.")

These words from the Italian traveler in front of me on the Super Shuttle caught my attention the most. I had to agree—the history of Rome, the last "real" empire, is in many ways more fantastic than the stories of Colonial America. Many of the buildings in Florence, the city in which I currently reside and tap away, are from the 12th century and their age is both awe-inspiring and humbling.

But the awesomeness of other cultures that derives from their great age should not be reason to elevate them above the remnants of more modern societies. We herald the Ancients because they seem so romantic, so ahead of their times when we read their philosophy now and recognize the many timeless truths of which they speak. Their wisdom is undeniable. Yet 1000 years from now, I am sure the American Empire will be equally as awesome to future generations. It may seem less romantic because technology will connect the future much closer to our modern times, a luxury we miss as we explore the Roman ruins. But I do believe that the ultimate amour comes with contemplating the ideologies of peoples. At least, that is what sets my heart pounding, my head spinning, my brain cells jump-started in motion. Ideas.

When I study another culture, I am always searching for more than the allure of the initial aesthetics. Aren't we all looking for that quintessential moment, via travel—that "aha" moment when the universals become clear? And such defines Border Hopping's focus, which strays from the traditional travel site, usually commercially focused: while we appreciate the food, the furnishings, and the fashion, it is not merely the consumption and possession of these objects that allow us to experience a culture. A complete understanding of these elements and many others in a people's life is far more important, and this, we believe, requires a more extensive mode of "border hopping." Ironically, this "more extensive mode," albeit headier and more intellectual, can be done from virtually anyplace on the planet.

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NYC to Italia: truly border hopping

posted by Jamila


photo by JoelZimmer

I left New York in the rain.

My lightly packed suitcase, tote, and laptop left what will be my new apartment come four months—when I return to NYC—and hopped onto a "Super Shuttle" to catch a flight to Paris, en route to Florence. Firenze. My long vacation. Sitting quietly in the shared shuttle, the three people in front of me began a conversation in a familiar language to my ears.

La città più bella... è... Roma. ("The most beautiful city... is... Rome.")

I understood the words perfectly. Did I agree with them? I could not decide. My entire life up until now has been a constant progression towards living in New York City and I will always have a particular fondness in my heart for it—all of it. Not just its breadth and diversity, the sheer beauty of such a large, lighted island. What strikes me most about the City is how it teams with brilliant contradictions, and I love watching the beauty of a supermodel against the trash collected on curbsides, the freshly constructed condominium hovering over a fishy stench. I witness it; I own it; it becomes an integral part of me and I am all I know. New York is where I discovered my patriotism and what it means to be an American without the usual shame and cynicism of my earlier political sentiments. Because New York is where, for the first time in my life, I felt no shame or cynicism towards myself. I was reborn in New York, like so many of us are.

I left New York in the rain. Just how I like it. And after two flights and some border hopping, I forgot it. All of it.


photo by Jamila


For I found the sun in Tuscany.

The past few months have been a true test of my ambition, and I have discovered that I cannot do anything I want. I can only do what I want, and unearthing my desires is probably the hardest thing for a self-proclaimed hedonist to do.

More coming. Voglio restare per la notte...

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