Another aspect of the Netherlands I expected to see was people reading books and newspapers. The Netherlands has a 99 percent literacy rate, comparable to the United States, according to the World Atlas website. They also have one of the highest newspaper subscriptions per capita in the world, states Cultures of the World: Netherlands (Cavendish Square Publishing, 2016). Since my son and I ventured mainly to tourist spots rather than to the countryside where the Dutch like to relax in their homes by reading, I did not observe any radical literacy behaviors. However, as we floated along the beautiful canals, I did consider my own.
I thought about the advantages I have as a literate person who had the privilege of exploring another country. My travel experience was greatly enhanced because I was able to read maps, tour guides, and bilingual signs. My literacy gave me the chutzpah to ask questions and communicate with a few Dutch people. (As a side note, it’s amazing how many Dutch people are fluent in English besides their own language. Why aren’t Americans like that?)
I left Amsterdam with a greater appreciation for the gift of literacy, where it is taking me virtually, how it is helping me understand people more, and how it is helping me to enjoy venturing out into our beautiful world.
What about you? How has your literacy enhanced your travel experiences?