Week 2 Prompt: Airplanes
For some people, flying on airplanes is a fun (albeit expensive) hobby; for others, it’s part of their job — as pilots, flight attendants, or business people traveling for work. But a small number of people rely on aviation as a lifeline: “bush pilots” bring food and supplies to remote areas of the globe, including parts of Alaska. This week, turn your eyes to the sky. Is aviation a novelty or a necessity? Do people travel for fun or only when necessary? Does air transportation have a good reputation, or are people skeptical of its safety, efficiency, and reliability? Take a picture of an airplane, airport, landing strip, or some other aviation-related aspect of the culture surrounding you.
Ryan Hildebrandt ’17, Psychology and Japanese
Aviation isn’t a huge part of everyday Japanese life. Unless you’re flying between two cities that are very, very far apart within Japan, most airports are used for international travel. The vast majority of domestic travel is done via ferry, car, and especially train. Because of this, most exposure to Japanese airlines comes in getting to and from the country, and isn’t a prominent means of travel once you’re in the country. There isn’t much of a domestic air-travel industry to speak of, or at least what is there isn’t frequented unless you’re traveling clear across the country and need to do it quicker than a train. Instead, the experience of going to an airport with your ticket in hand, checking luggage, finding your terminal, and jumping on a very fast and efficient means of transportation has been largely replaced with the train system and Shinkansen bullet train. As we used this much more than planes while in Japan (one flight in, one out), here’s a fuzzy picture of Mount Fuji from my plane on my way home at the last possible moment.
Mallory Keller ’17, Art History and Educational Studies
When studying abroad, you are encouraged to travel to other countries. Because of how south Italy is in Europe, while traveling by train may be cheaper, air transportation is much more time efficient. I am constantly surrounded by fellow students conversing about planning travel for weekends and which airline is better. I found that Europe is full of budget airlines that makes travel fairly cheap. Some Americans are skeptical of budget airlines, but I have found that if you read the fine print and follow their rules, you will not have any problems. From some very negative experiences with some prominent airlines in America that I will leave unnamed in this post, I would fly European budget airlines over them anyday. My experience in flying from Pisa to London on what is known as a budget airline was awesome. I had none of those terrible horror stories you hear off, it was so efficient, and my flight was only $60 round trip.
The one thing I have noticed about many European airports is that they are much smaller than American airports, which I enjoy. While there are some duty free shops, I don’t have to walk through what sometimes seems like malls within American airports. Security was fast, efficient, and I never felt unsafe traveling through the airports. When my roommate and I were booking our taxi to the Florence airport when we were leaving for the semester, my host mom was confused as to why we were calling it two hours before our flight. She said we only needed thirty minutes and she ended up being correct! We sat in the pretty empty Florence airport for an hour and a half before our flight. The one thing I do miss about being abroad is the ease of travel.
Zachary Weaver ’17
Airplanes are a fact of life in Europe. Since the introduction of the European Union and common currency, more and more businesses have offices and work in different countries. Countries in the European Union have made travel extremely easy for citizens of fellow members, and air travel is no different.
However, aside from international travel, planes aren’t used as much as trains are in the United Kingdom. It is often easier and cheaper to take a train from one end of the country to another rather than planes. This is in large part due to the extensiveness of the train network in the UK, but many areas do have their own airport or airfield.
Cardiff itself is a small city when compared to places such as London or Paris, yet there are quite a few businessmen who use air travel to get to Cardiff on a weekly basis. On my flight from Amsterdam to Cardiff on my way to the country, most of the plane was made of Dutch businessmen who had work in Cardiff that day or week.
Air travel itself is quite common amongst students at Cardiff, especially those of us from Colgate who are studying here! The Cardiff Airport is often used as a springboard to bigger airports, from which a flight to most of Europe can be reached. Several people already have plans to fly to mainland Europe at some point in the semester, with Amsterdam, Barcelona, and the Swiss Alps being popular destinations.
Getting to an airport is easy enough from Cardiff. One can either take a taxi to Cardiff Airport, or jump on one of several buses or trains to London and use Heathrow or Gatwick Airports for better service to more areas of Europe.
My time in Cardiff Airport was pretty easy. Being a small airport, the service was much more personable than customs and immigration in some larger airports. Plus, once I made it through all my bags were already on the luggage belt, so I didn’t have to wait at all!
Upon arrival in Cameroon, I looked at the small airport of Yaoundé: the 1970’s style resonating from the structure of the building to the colors, and I knew I was in for a very different (due to my western perception), but just as wonderful, experience. The airport was packed with people with signs and men trying to carry belongings for you to your car. Within the first 10 minutes of stepping into Cameroon, I noticed that many people were friendly and willing to help, despite me standing out as one of the 3 white people in the airport. What was also very interesting is that many people who were waiting past the baggage claim were trying to sell things: it was like another market! After I found the man who represented my organization, we went outside. There was so much dancing, laughing and music happening in the street and it seemed to be a joyous occasion. I thought, “what an incredible way to arrive in a new country!” I asked the man I was with what the occasion was, and he said there was none and it was normal. Clearly within my first moments in Cameroon I had already exerted my bias and failed to check my white, American perception of culture. No doubt, even when I think I am checking my privilege, and myself, I’m sure I am not completely and so I need to continue to be aware of that, especially while writing these blog posts.