Human beings are always moving from one place to another and this mobility can be educational and exciting experience whether consciously or unconsciously. A number of mobility theories have been advanced so far to explain how people move from one place to another. Several types of mobilities have already been identified by John Urry, including corporeal travel- people, physical movement- object, imaginative travel- photo, and Virtual travel (Urry 4). Each of these mobilities is defined by a particular element, which differentiates it from all others. In this paper, I explore several factors that prompted my engagement in a six hour journey through the New York City from Lower Manhattan to the Fifth Avenue, identifying mobility systems that I used throughout the journey.
I was motivated to start this journey by the culture and the uniqueness of the city. I wanted to engage into the learning the activities that people engage in during the day on the territory from Lower Manhattan to the Fifth Avenue. The journey would take me across people of different cultures and classes; therefore, give me an opportunity to explore different mobility systems. The city has many people from different cultures, and while walking through it, one gets a feeling of interacting with the whole world. Also, I was motivated by the desire to capture the moment of walking by strangers in a city, where everyone is almost a stranger to others. In essence, I was enthusiastic about engaging in a corporeal travel to meet new people and interact with them (De Certeau 14)
Generally, different people have different experiences, when they are moving from one place to another, especially in the new environment. As observed by Clark, what sets apart human beings from other species is their capacity to incorporate tools and supporting experiences in the existence. In this journey I felt that I was embarking to a new unknown world, where everyone looked strange to me. However, I could easily feel that I was on excursion; therefore, consciously avoided engaging in a movement and emotional encounter, while witnessing the cultural and social contrasts that existed side by side across the city. I could not help but notice how different cultural practices and different classes of people lived in the same neighborhood, in what Certeau calls, coincidence of opposites. Throughout my journey, I experienced unconscious navigation of the places that I passed and experienced imagination of the life in the area. Generally, the experience was special and different because it involved a sightseeing tour, and feeling and learning of different cultures of a city. Throughout this system I used physical walking as the main mobility system. However, I carried with me a cell phone and a camera, which helped me to capture the exciting moments of the neighborhood that I went through. Occasionally, I would share the photos that I took with my camera with my friend’s through the social networks. This helped me to enable my friends to have imaginative travel through the New York City; therefore, necessitated me to also share my travelling experiences with them in a real time manner.
Urry’s mobilities structure examines social, economic, and political issues. As such, my journey was majorly concerned with observation of the three issues, as I travelled from Lower Manhattan to the Fifth Avenue. People, who assisted me with directions whenever I lost my way, formed the major part of my mobility system. However, I also engaged in a number of activities with the people that I encountered along the way. Mobile connectivity and internet connectivity also played a role in making my journey exciting, as I could use applications, such as Google maps, in order to identify different neighboring places, where I was standing. Most of the systems that I used were connected both in an online and offline mode. I was connected with the people I interacted in an offline mode. I met them on the way and talked about their experiences living in those areas. There were also online systems such as my cell phone and the internet networks that assisted me in capturing the moments and in sharing the photos with my friends on the social networks. The cell phone particularly came about as a helpful tool, because according to Urry, a lack of the device would have landed me in “a no-man’s land of non-connectivity”. The online systems were particularly important in helping me to capture the city surrounding in the neighborhood that I went through. I also shared the photos with my family and friends later after completing my journey.
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People mobility system is mainly regulated by a number of factors, including culture, language, and religion. According to Urry (2007), a journey, like the one I undertook, would have many “mobility turns”. In this regard, I realized that I needed to look for various mobility systems that would help me to negotiate many mobility turns that I was going to experience along the way. I realized that a number of people did not understand my language, or rather I did not understand there language and this presented a huge barrier in trying to communicate with others. Another challenge that I have experienced was the technological one, because my camera ran out of charge and for a moment I could not capture exciting moments. However, I solved the problem by purchasing another battery from the nearby shop. One more barrier was doing with culture because some people were afraid to speak to a stranger, as their culture did not allow them to speak to anybody strange. Some women also refused to speak to me because of the religious affiliations. All in all, the mobility systems presented a few challenges during my journey because at the end of it all I felt that I had collected enough information just as I had intended to. I engaged into this journey mainly because it was voluntary and I expected to have a lot of experiences with new cultural interactions (Mach &Weslowski 11). The journey has shown me people, who speak different language including English and Spanish. On this journey I needed a second language besides English. My native language, which is Chinese, wouldn’t help me a lot in my journey, because most of the people I interacted along the journey did not understanding Chinese language. My camera also provided a valuable tool because it enabled me to capture the exciting moments I had in a digital form, and which I can refer to later and still experience the same form of excitement. Culturally, I needed to prepare to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and races.
My journey can inspire other people to move from one place to another in search of exciting experiences. In the same way people, who live in these areas, might also want to embark on a similar journey with a view of getting to learn about other people and other cultures. They will also use better mobility systems that will enable them to capture the numerous exciting moments that they encounter along the road. This journey does not in any way cause immobility of other people, but instead should be an encouragement for them to take up corporeal mobility to meet new people and interact with them from a personal point of view. Such a journey should also encourage people to appreciate those from different cultures with different views about things they consider central to them, such as relationships (Mach &Weslowski 21). As a mobility studies scholar, I would be greatly concerned with the general view of cultures of people that I meet along the journey. I will also be definitely concerned with the networks available, and the technology tools that make me able to capture many exciting moments during my journey. I will also be keen to note how different paradigms and mobility systems are manifested and utilized in this journey. Finally, I will enquire to find out the way the systems of mobility contribute to the learning experiences, as I traverse throughout the place.