By Sohan Gade ’23
I have a passion to venture out and look around, no matter where I am. Interestingly enough, I have always told myself that the walls of my room are never fences. Stressful nights? I would leave my room and go out on long walks, filled with self-talk and appreciation for the nature around me. This free spirit probably comes from my dad, who is in love with any type of travel show. Growing up, on the weekends, I would see my dad watching a TV show in the living room featuring someone going to places I had never even heard of! I would also hear many interesting stories from my grandparents when they used to visit us from India.
I have probably had the same exact conversation with my grandpa about two million times.
“Sohan, do you know when I went?”
I would just nod my head, even though I knew the answer.
“In the 1960’s. I went to Czechoslovakia, as an Indian man. What do they call it now? The Czech-ye Republic and SloVAYkia?”
He would go on to tell me about his adventures in Central Europe during that time, how he, as a strict, vegetarian teetotaler, managed to live in a drastically different culture.
I constantly ask myself the question, “Where to next?” Sometimes, I don’t have an answer. When that occurs, I turn to the 10’ x 6’ National Geographic map my parents bought me one day in elementary school, grab a dart or small ball, and throw it at the map to see where it lands. I then spend some time – as long as I want – reading or learning more about that place.
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, schools, restaurants, and parks all closed. I flew back home to my family in Texas and soon realized how much I missed my hallmates and new friends at Davidson. I quickly realized that binging Netflix or Hulu would only cure so much of my boredom. This was the first time that the walls of my bedroom and house actually felt like walls.
The day after I arrived home, I was reflecting on my living room couch and saw the world map. I threw a small bouncy ball at the map, and it landed on Paris. How coincidental! I had been in France with my family last summer, strolling down the boulevards, and attempting to speak whatever French I knew.
I Google searched, “Louvre Museum Virtual Tour,” and in no time, I found myself in the museum. Heck, I could spend a “Night at the Museum.” I could gaze at the different galleries, especially the parts that I did not get to visit last time.
During our trip, my family also visited the Palais de Versailles – on the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles. I then Googled “Versailles Virtual Tour,” and the first result was a 360-degree tour of the Palace and its magnificent gardens. I learned new and interesting facts about each place that I had not learned during our visit. While it is disappointing not to feel the light breeze or the aura of the actual palace, through virtual tours and pictures, not all hope is lost.
Since starting this “expedition,” I have been exploring one new place each day and looking at them with different perspectives.
For example, my dart landed on the city of Wuhan in China. Unfortunately, Wuhan is the center of much scorn these days, as many people associate it with the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, I found that it is one of the coolest cities in the world, having even been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design! I learned that it is actually a global hub for technology and design.
Along with virtually traveling the world, I have made several other discoveries, like how you can have fun by exploring Disney rides. Every day, I am going on a different adventure, and I go wherever the dart takes me. These adventures satiate my desire for exploration while on lockdown, and they make me even more excited for everything to go back to normal so I can actually see these places in real life.
A large part of the “travel experience” involves the sounds and the surroundings, which you cannot possibly feel on a screen. Still, not all hope is lost. We are not completely disconnected from the rest of the world, thanks to our over-reliance on the internet. Every place is only a Google search away, and the walls of my room are not fences for my imagination.
I hope you go on your own adventures, so keep exploring! Stay safe!