Travel, Internationalism, and Academia Blog
This is my blog about my personal travels as an academic. In this first post I’ll introduce myself, explaining how I got to this point.
I’m British, from the north of England. For my 18th Birthday gift, I asked my parents for £350 (about US$700) to buy a return flight to Miami in the USA. A friend and I set off to explore Florida, just for a couple of weeks. We visited the Everglades, the NASA center at Cape Canaveral, drove down to Key West and flew up to Orlando for the theme parks. I realized then that I wanted to keep travelling, and that my life in a Northern English town, working in betting shops, had to change. I had no qualifications at that point, but started attending college. I couldn’t even read and write properly at that point and had to start with adult literacy classes. But it all went surprisingly well, I gained the basic school leaving qualifications, then some higher certificates, and at some point, I decided to aim for a PhD. That was my route to the wider world.
I’m 51 now and have an academic career, but I’ve managed to combine that career with a somewhat nomadic existence. I’ve lived in several British cities, as well as in South America and Asia. I’m currently living in Nur-sultan, Kazakhstan. Mainly for tourism, but sometimes for work, I’ve visited 56 different countries and counting (I count a visit as comprising at least two consecutive nights spent there). My favorite place in the world is Easter Island. My favorite journey is the Navimag ferry, which runs down the coast of Chile between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales. I don’t really have a home in any particular part of the world anymore.
Luckily my wife, Helen, shares my wanderlust. We don’t move constantly. We spend enough time in countries to get substantial work completed. For example, I spent almost 8 years at the same university in Ecuador. But that allowed me to attend conferences and develop collaborations in numerous cities across Latin America.
Some people see our somewhat iterant existence as weird and dysfunctional, or at least unstable and unsuited to being an academic. However, I’m a research psychologist, and it is clear to me that I have developed a much better understanding of people from my travels. I see so many psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists, who have only really experienced life in their own towns, and in their own social strata. That’s such a pity as it’s widely acknowledged that too much research is WEIRD (i.e., on people in Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic countries; Henrich et al., 2010). Being a committed traveler is actually a path to not being a WEIRD researcher.
This blog will describe some of my travels, and some of my thoughts on being a traveler. It will of course be from my perspective as an active research academic. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss anything.
Dr Graham Pluck
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world?. Behavioral and brain sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83.
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