作者：北美考试教学中心 托福写作组 肖曼
Traveling is becoming quite popular among citizens with the increase of their disposable income and advancement of transportation, but not all people have enough time to enjoy their journey. Leading a hectic life, sometimes, we just have limited time to visit a city, which leads us to consider how can we make full use of our time to get to know the city. Some people believe that going a markets or shops can offer some clues, while others argue that having a meal in restaurants or killing time in cafes would be preferable. From my perspective, I think touring historic sites can benefit us more.
Making a tour of historic sites in a city enables us to have a brief understanding of its culture in a relatively short period of time. It can not only enrich our understanding of a particular historical event, but it can also allow us to engage with history in a way that provides greater local contextualization and a visceral connection to the people who lived through it. For example, visiting the military park brought the Battle of Gettysburg alive to me in a way that no textbook had been able to do. Seeing the collections and reading archival sources such as journal entries and letters available at the museum allowed me to not only imagine life during the Civil War, but also to reflect on the struggles and experiences of soldiers who fought in the war. Similarly, visiting the actual location helped me better understand the logic and tactics deployed by both sides during the battle, and to come to terms with the immense loss of life that had occurred there.
Shopping in markets or malls seems to be plausible since we can get access to local commodities, which would give us a chance to get to know the area. Sometimes, markets can be a true representation of the island’s unique culture. When shopping, visitors are often amazed at the language of negotiation, the spirit of vendors, as well as the products they encounter. However, useful information provided by goods would be limited by the globalization when markets and shops in different areas start to sell similar or even identical goods. Distinctive products which can present local features are increasingly decreasing in many countries and areas. Even if there are special things sold in the market, most of them can also be bought online. Under such circumstance, there is no need to shop in other cities when all of the products can be bought in visitors’ hometown.
It is true that eating in restaurant and spending time in cafes can also contribute to our understanding of a place for we can at least get to know local people’s eating habits and the variety of the cuisine. Having a nice conversation with local people would show us what attitude local people have towards life. However, we should not neglect the truth that we can’t eat too much with limited time. If we travel alone, the situation can be worse since we may just be able to order two or three dishes, so what we can learn from the food can be dissatisfied. Besides, in some areas, local people may not eat out too much, people we encounter in a restaurant are mostly visitors as us. What can we learn from them?
In conclusion, given the limited time we have, what we should do while visiting a place the first time should be touring it historic sites for it can help expand our scope of knowledge and have a glimpse of what the life was there in the past.