As I sit in the international terminal at O'Hare (yes, my passport came in about an hour ago...thank God), I can't think of any more drastic a change from Davidson than this terminal. Sure, we have (some) diversity at Davidson, but nowhere near the diversity here. I can't count the different languages I've heard in 2 short hours on my fingers. Then there's the fashion--from nordic drab to Japanese uber-hip and everything in between.
Just as immediate of a departure from Davidson as the diversity is the security. All the airport security in the world can't make me feel as safe as I did in that bubble, surrounded merely by good people who rely merely on each others' word to know that they are safe from theft, lying, and cheating. If I were to get up to get a bite of food or go to the bathroom in even the most public of places at Davidson (ie-Union, Baker, Library), I would absolutely feel secure leaving my bookbag, laptop, or even my wallet lying around. Here, I probably won't leave my seat for hours because I don't want to lug my 50 lb bag around.
Another difference is people's intentions. At Davidson we look out for each other, lending a helping hand to strangers and friends alike without expecting anything in return. Here people are cold and frigid to each other, as if suspecting each other of being dangerous. I admit, I was blindsided by a man who asked me where I was going as I wandered around the baggage claim area looking for signs to the international terminal. He told me I wanted Terminal 5, and to put my bag on his cart and he'd take me there. I did, and he did, and in my own ignorance (I'm not stupid, just too used to Davidson), I offered him what I would at Davidson for his troubles: a genuine "Thank you" and a firm handshake. This was not acceptable. He demanded payment, which I, startled, gave him.
I wish people would share more in this world: ideas, information, services, support, whatever you have to offer that someone else might need. I know that this is an impossible goal, as people are naturally ultimately self-interested, but I believe the more we share, the better the world we live in will get.
On a related note, though not necessarily relevant to my trip to Finland, what do people think about the RIAA going after the radio stations for royalties? In my mind there are 3 ways this can go: 1) Radio stations are forced to pay up, making even the top independent radio stations suffer immensely without the operating budget and national support of ClearChannel; 2) The plan backfires and radio stations start getting their music from non-RIAA labels, boosting sales of independent music through the roof and essentially hitting "restart" on the music industry; 3) ClearChannel pays, independent stations find other music, and ClearChannel is forced out of business (my favorite, but clearly the least likely). At any rate, I think the RIAA is again being unnecessarily desperate for funds in an industry that just happens to be sprawling away from major labels. But maybe that's just me...what do you think? (Pssst-that's a hint to comment)