GRE Vocab Wednesday: Travel Words

For many summer means languorous days at the beach, evenings promenading through town, and balmy nights with friends and family. For the lucky few, it can be all of these—if they’re on vacation. Interestingly, summer is a time for travel, those few weeks where we can check out of our daily routine and experience the world, and ourselves, anew. Winter, in all of its body-paralyzing frigidity, is the time we most need a respite, but I digress. Below are words that relate to wonderful experience that is traveling.




This intimidating-looking word has a straightforward meaning: relating to farewells. Before we go on long vacations—I’m talking about the six-week go-find-yourself in Asia kind of trips—we make the valedictory rounds, saying bye to friends and family. In general, a valedictory speech is one that serves as a farewell. Interestingly, a valedictorian is one who achieves the highest marks in high school and is usually tasked, during graduation, to give—yep, you guess it!—the farewell speech.

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Recently, I had another child. In between diaper changes and sleepless nights, there is barely enough time to do much of anything else. As for traveling, at least for the next few years, I’ll be doing that vicariously: through the experiences of others. It may be tuning in to the travel show on PBS or listening to my childless friends tell of their misadventure in a market in Marrakech. Vicarious pleasures extend beyond the merely peripatetic; people become so engrossed in the lives of celebrities, that if their favorite obsession is having an off day, they too feel down.



One of my favorite things to do when I arrive in a city I’ve never been in before is to put on my running shoes, grab a business card of the hotel room I’m staying at, and head off in no particular direction, getting lost in a totally unknown place (the business card is for the cabbie once I’ve had enough of being lost). In other words, I like to meander, or not take the straight route. This will carry over to my itinerary as I do things on the fly and revel in a rejection of the planned path (mind you this is all pre-children).



One of the great things about travel is it opens our minds to different ways of life. When faced with cultures very unlike our own, we are forced to reexamine our own assumptions. Never leaving one’s country or even home state makes this kind of revelation difficult to come by. In the end, one can easily end up having a narrow view of the world, a view bound by one’s geography (the Internet has made this less likely). Generally speaking, to be parochial is to be narrow-minded.



One who is at ease in a variety of different cultures is cosmopolitan. If you live in a big city, especially one like New York, you might have friends who collectively come from five different continents; you might eat Ethiopian food on Monday, Korean food on Tuesday, and Turkish food on Thursday. In other words, you’ll be cosmopolitan.


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