Perspectives from Abroad: 6000 miles and 30 days


Sascha Sebastian Rühl/The Chart

Beer out of a jar, vegan food and a lot of hugs for Roary at Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, GA.

Perspectives from Abroad is an ongoing column by Sascha Sebastian Rühl, a study abroad student from Germany, that explores Missouri Southern and American life through the eyes of an international student.

6000 miles and 30 days are now between me and my study abroad semester in Joplin. No, that doesn’t mean I’m back home in Europe  I drove all of those miles inside the US and am now writing this article in Laughlin, Nev. during a quiet moment.

“You will have seen more of my country than I have!” pretty much everybody has said to me in the last few months after I showed them my estimated route.

In the past 30 days, I’ve gone mountain rafting and water skiing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, spent some time in Chicago, drove up Route 66 from Joplin, heard great music in Nashville, went to a horse race at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky, went to the Indy 500 in Indianapolis, went to strip clubs on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, stayed at a hippie hostel in a forest in south Georgia, lost my phone while I was fishing for sharks at the Gulf, did some dunesledding in New Mexico and tricked a university in Florida to get a free round trip flight over the Atlantic coast.

Wow! Wow! In 30 days! On the way, I’ve met up with friends I made in Joplin or made new friends. I’ve slept maybe ten nights in hotels  the other days I was hosted or slept in my truck on an air matress in front of several Wal-Marts.

I travel by myself, but I don’t have to hang around alone if I don’t want to. I just ask random people to hang out with them! I’m surprised how easy it is. But how can I enjoy all of these things just one country your country  has to offer while most Americans visit only a handful of states in their lifetime? How can a German study abroad student see more of your own country than you?

“I should do something like that as well, exploring my own country for a certain time,” has typically been the sentence that followed the first one.

I’m sorry to say it, but chances are you won’t. What would you do if you had four months off, a huge travel budget and the wish to find to yourself, explore who you are and what you want? I bet my truck and its ever-increasing mileage that you would catch the next plane and travel to places far away from your continent!

The other culture will shock you, change you and teach you how to think outside the box. Most people don’t do crazy stuff like I’ve been doing in their usual environment, they have to go out as a signal to themselves. The furthest distance I drove with my car during holidays back home in Germany was maybe 650 miles  here, I have already driven 6000 miles in the first month of a four month trip.

“I’m impressed that you drove the Route 66 down here from Missouri with this old truck,” said a policeman in Arizona today after he pulled me over. I didn’t mention that I just came from New Orleans and that I’ll have 12000 miles more to drive till I’m satisfied. 35 states or so are on my list, including two Canadian territories.

If you would like some travel ideas for the US, check out Roary’s “roar trip” pictures at www.facebook/thechartonline. He travels with me to  well  somewhere.