It was a normal Tuesday for me. I’ve received a message from someone on Couchsurfing (if you don’t know that platform, you should). They said they wanted to hang out. I said yes.
Naturally, they wanted to see the most iconic parts of the city. I live in London, so we decided to walk by the Thames. It was about 8 pm, cloudy and kind of dark, and we were getting closer to the London Eye and the Big Ben.
That’s all I could say while that enormous round shape invaded my eyes. It was beautiful! The weather was with the London mode on, the lights were giving the landscape that pinch of romanticism, some street performers were playing the violin, the boats were navigating on the river. It was all breathtaking.
I stood for more than five minutes with my mouth open and trying to blink as less as possible. I was admiring something so beautiful and so ordinary at the same time. It was there, in my city, I can come and visit it whenever I want to.
I decided to spot being a citizen for a couple of minutes and I became a tourist. It was great.
“Shall we move on?”, the other person said to me.
Going through the process
I’m from Argentina and I’ve attended an English course for six months back in 2014, in the UK. I loved it, so I decided I needed to come back one day and try to start a new life here. That’s what I’m doing now. I moved six months ago and since then I haven’t been any touristic place.
Before coming, I though my whole life would be like a film. Work a little bit, then go party, meet new people, going to some famous places, have fun, take some pics. It was great in my dreams. But it isn’t so.
I’m not saying I don’t like it here, I love it. But I’m not a tourist anymore, I’m a citizen now. I belong to the city, I’m not just a temporary visitor.
And that might happen to all of you. Maybe you moved to another city, like me. But maybe you’ve lived your entire life in the same place. So why you would you bother to go to the Eiffel Tower if you live in Paris? What’s the point of visiting the Statue of Liberty if you can see it everyday from your window? “I wouldn’t bother to take some pics at the Coliseum if that’s part of my everyday life”.
We may all think like that, and we can’t blame ourselves. There’s a point in which we stop being tourists and, in a way, we loose our “astonishment ability”.
It happens with everything in life. Once we’ve got something and we know it’s going to be part of our lives for ever, we don’t give it the same value.
But we should.
Tourist mode on
I know it’s hard, but you must give it a go.
Whenever you’ve got a day off or same spare time, take a couple of hours (or days) to become a tourist in your own city. Go to those places every single visitor goes to. Take your camera if you want to or invite some friend who has never been to that place before.
Just get there and admire. Admire, that’s all you have to do.
See every single detail, try to understand a little bit of the history of that place, imagine how long it took for it to be built or try to understand what that means to the city.
If you can touch it, touch it. Feel it, make contact with it and realise that that’s part of your life, that’s part of the city you live in.
Now look around you. See all the people with cameras, smiling and having a good time? They would give their lives to be there everyday. Some people would love to wake up every single morning looking at the London Eye or the Opera House. But they can’t, they’re leaving in a couple of days. But you can. You don’t have to go into YouTube to watch that thing. Isn’t that awesome? Realise how lucky you are.
And it doesn’t happen only with your city. What about your country? I’ve known loads of people who know more places abroad that in their own country. I’m not saying it’s wrong, it’s just something to think about.
“Ok, but my city only has one or two interesting places”, you might think. Then you’re talking about touristic points. But what about getting lost and discover the city? Have you ever been to that weird pub, or have you ever walked through that random street? Have you visited the museums in your city? There’s always something to do!
One thing that helped me a lot is creating my own YouTube channel. It forced me to leave my house and go and discover places so I can show them to the world. It also forced me to learn a little bit so I can tell it to my followers. You can do the same, or even write for blogs, or whatever.
Believe me, ever city has its beauty. Unfortunately, we are used to it. Let’s get out there and admire the place we live in. I bet it’ll awesome.