Airport Musings

This blog was written by our 2012 East Africa Trip Leader Sabrina Rubli.
Check out her blog of Sandwiches and Suitcases here. 

Airports are a funny kind of place.

In fact, they are incredibly unique as non-spaces. Airports around the world are designed to look, and feel the same. Despite the fact that you have travelled thousands of miles, crossing oceans and time zones, often the only difference awaiting you will be the language of the flight announcements and the mass-produced, culturally-stereotypical souvenirs waiting for you to spend your last bits of local currency on.

But there will always be windowed walls, hard-tiled flooring and rows of uncomfortable chairs. The world over you will find over-priced cups of coffee and limp sandwiches and newspapers in every language. Despite the wonderfully vast differences in this world, it is strange to think that your first impressions of India or New York or Paris or Cape Town will be shockingly similar.

There must be a reason for this similarity. Perhaps ‘they’ assume travelling is a stressful experience, and they strive to provide an element of familiarity before the revolving doors push you out into the unknown.

Airports are waiting places. Waiting in lines for security checks, for visas, for boarding, for a cup of tea. It’s a place of transitions – change currency, change time, change languages.

Perhaps one reason why airports are so different from any other place is the absence of the concept of time. Time zones of the world collide, as people order burgers and beer at 6am, and coffee and eggs a 8pm. It’s dawn instead of dusk, and sunny when you feel the sky shouldn’t be. The atmosphere remains the same every hour of the day, the only signal of time is the changing light outside the windows.

Airports represent such an accessible world, a truly global phenomenon that has only just developed in the last few decades. How strange of a concept that you can go from one corner of the world to another in a mere matter of hours. Drastic changes in time, in weather, in culture are shocks to the system, yet buffered by the global sameness of airports everywhere. The in-between non places.

This blog was written by our 2012 East Africa Trip Leader Sabrina Rubli. Check out her blog of Sandwiches and Suitcases here.