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If Only I Were Rick Steves

Posted by on Thursday, March 22, 2012 in Speakers, Study Abroad.

Last weekend, my parents and little brother were in town to do all of the normal things families do when they visit you in college: follow you around, meet your friends and forget all of their names immediately, and take you out to eat! On their short weekend extravaganza of Samantha-planned fun activities, we happened across the bulletin board in the Commons Center, and my mom and dad were immediately drawn to a flyer advertising “Rick Steves: Travel as a Political Act.” There would be a lecture this Monday in the Student Life Center that was free for Vanderbilt students, and my parents were adamant that I go.  I had no idea who Rick Steves was, but my parents were quick to inform me that he was the best travel guide writer in the history of the universe. My family had followed his travel guide of Italy a few years back and had a marvelous time, so Samantha, you “simply must go.”

Reluctant, I dragged my good friend Lauren along on Monday night at 7:00 to hear Rick Steves speak, and I was surprised to find the whole SLC ballroom packed with people, namely couples my parents’ age.  Lauren and I were definitely the youngest in the crowd, but Steves addressed college students and older adults alike in his lecture.

Rick Steves writes travel books primarily for Americans exploring countries in Europe, his concentration, but he has traveled all over the world.  It’s amazing that he gets paid to travel around the world and make friends with the natives everywhere he goes.  He said sometimes he just loses his travelers checks on purpose to see what will happen and orders a “margarita” at the end of the day and ends up with a margherita pizza, in order to include the cultural differences in his books.  The point he made was that no trip goes just as planned, and he has set out to write travel books that address the difficulties and hardships of traveling as well as cool, off-the-beaten-path things to do in foreign countries.

Oh hey, Rick Steves

I was thrilled to have Lauren with me because she is a History major (with a concentration in Europe), so she is very interested in studying abroad in Europe.  Steves dispelled many myths about traveling abroad, especially the myth that it isn’t safe to travel to Europe. He also discussed his trip to Iran, which he said was life-changing.  Having faces and personalities of specific people in his mind when Iran is brought up in the news has given him a whole new perspective on the American war against terrorism in Iran and the citizens it affects.

Over all, his lecture was insightful and well-received by the Vanderbilt community, and it received a standing ovation.

We got super excited at the end because he said he would pose for pictures with people, but at the last minute he changed his mind.  We didn’t let that stop us!:

Creeping on Rick Steves

Morals of the story:

1. I want Rick Steves’ job! Germany, Spain, Italy? Yes please!

2. Vanderbilt has AWESOME speakers, and I never would have known unless my mom and dad had stopped to read the bulletin board.

3. You can never take too many creepy pictures.

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