Sobre el verbo atreverse a

Two of my friends from elementary school now have college age children who, according to their mothers, are all too cautious in life. They do not understand it, as they at the same age were not so cautious themselves, and as they have not raised their children to be fearful. One of these children, for example, is so fearless that she surfed almost all the way to the Island of the Blue Dolphins, no mean feat, yet on land she refuses to leave our home county for work or study. Why should she, I said to myself, it does not get better elsewhere; but out loud I said “It is the economy, I see why she is cautious.”

The people I partly raised are more as we were ourselves, but they were already rather old when I met them. One reads history in England and is angry because I do not agree with his or her dissertation proposal. The other hacks code in Austin and is grateful that I am not upset to have him or her living “so far” away.  Both are reasonably adventurous but this is surely not my doing. My students are more cautious and I tell my friends it is not their fault that they have cautious children. Caution is in style.

Tonight I ran into my erstwhile student, currently in someone else’s class, at the gym. He wanted to know about study abroad. He has been to Europe before, but with his family. He is concerned about arriving alone to Madrid-Barajas and transferring from there to the metro and then RENFE — and then negotiating a cab when he arrives to his town. It is going to be quite frightening, said he, doing all of that, on my own, in Spanish.

I was thinking: your Castilian ancestry is apparent and you are going to fit right in.  I was  also thinking: when I was your age I did that. Mostly I was thinking: men and women younger than you shipped off tonight to Afghanistan and do not know when or if they are coming back. I did not say these things. I said: another student from your former class is going; you can perhaps travel together.

La expresión que viene en cuenta es atreverse a [+ infinitivo].


16 thoughts on “Sobre el verbo atreverse a

  1. From Madrid-Barajas airport to RENFE (Red Nacional Ferrocarriles Españoles), your student doesn’t need metro. Particularly if he is planing to use high speed train AVE to the south (Andalucia) or to East Cost ( Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona).

    After exiting Customs, he should look for a yellow bus “Express Airport”. It will take him in less than 20 minutes to the AVE train station for 2 euros. When you buy your train ticket at AVE Station you can get a 15% discount (inter-continental traveller) if you show your plain tickets.

  2. Maybe we are an unusually courageous generation? I don’t think of myself as brave but I happily travel alone. Older ladies met in yoga classes find this strange and marvellous, as they have never in their lives done anything alone. When they travel, it is with their husbands, an organized group, or at least one other female friend.

  3. I’ve traveled alone and with companions. Each mode of travel has its advantages. To me this is not an ideological matter but more who is available, who has the money, and where I want to go.
    It’s the travel I love, not how I do it!

  4. Caution is indeed in style.

    I would say that our generational cautiousness, in the U.S. at least, is for a whole host of intersecting reasons.

    1. Zero tolerance in schools. Even minor infractions carry heavy penalties.
    2. Children being tried as adults, especially if those children are poor or LMC, ‘Hispanic’ or black or native.
    3. For some, crushing debt, from credit cards (incurred before they “knew better”) or student loans. These, combined with the need for insurance, and lack of jobs, means that one can never miss a step if one wishes to gain or keep employment.
    4. The erosion of the social safety net.
    5. In some ways, facebook/internet meaning that all of one’s “youthful indiscretions” stick around for all to see.
    6. The sense that if one is to get ahead or even stay afloat, one must really go above and beyond.
    7. Helicopter parents. I think these days, in some socioeconomic strata, if people see kids just wandering around they feel compelled to call the parents or the police.
    8. There seems to have been a heavier emphasis, for my generation, on “rape prevention.” So, never accept rides from strangers, never go into unfamiliar neighborhoods, or else you were “asking for it.”
    9. Even the diseases are more frightening. AIDS, MRSA, etc. Go once to the wrong place, once have condomless sex with the wrong man, and you have a life sentence.
    10. Somehow 9/11 and the expansion of the “security theatre” ties into all of this, but I am not sure how. Perhaps it is the increased authoritarianism and lack of trust among people. One is supposed to report on one’s neighbors to the DHS, and so on.

    All that being said, I do know quite a few risk takers. They are all rich white boys with trust funds and supportive families to fall back on if they “mess up” or “make a mistake.”

    Giroux has written about some of this.

    He really does make the most interesting connections.

    1. Excellent points and yes — I think this is it. Thanks Traveller for Barajas info way upthread, too. DE – all my grandmothers and great grandmothers and so on traveled by themselves – only my mother didn’t.

  5. Or, in a much shorter version. Sometimes the “caution” is overdone, but there seems to be something in the air.

  6. I have to agree. But it seems so sad. To me, the world seems so much safer and easier to navigate now: cell phones and internet connections everywhere, so no way to lose touch with family and friends; greater awareness of sexual violence so the authorities are more likely to take a complaint seriously; more information available (so that you know before landing in an airport what bus or subway to take, even to the point of having a map!); credit cards accepted everywhere (no need to carry travellers’ cheques or get cash exchanged at home, or have money wired); bank cards that work internationally; it’s amazing. When I was young I felt that the world was already so much smaller, less interesting and less romantic than it had been before I was born (that is, in what I read and heard family stories about), and that sense just keeps strengthening as technology changes our lives.

  7. It’s true – travel’s a lot safer and less remote, and sex while not safer than it was in that 1973-83 window or so, at least has penicillin, legal abortion, and much better HIV drugs. But other real, perceived and threatened dangers are a lot worse.

    I actually find the rich white boys (like the one I describe in the post) *not* to be risk takers nowadays! Or not that kind: the one I describe above gets into car related scrapes, etc., most couldn’t afford and wouldn’t have, yet is nervous to travel alone … even to a global youth culture type destination … !

    (P.S. This professor in France I made friends with says the students are like that there now, too!)

    1. “yet is nervous to travel alone.”
      This, surely, is down to lack of experience.

      1. Yes but – he’s been to Europe and elsewhere with other people many times. I don’t really get it.

      2. Well, single travel involves much more responsibility, you and you alone are responsible for keeping track of the time (etc.) When combined with even a mild language barrier it can seem overwhelming. But I am sure once he is there he will realize he is fine, and that he has it all under control.

        Or if he is like me and some other ‘travelers’ I have known (absolute airheads) he will end up on the wrong bus, to the wrong part of country, lose all of his belongings, and end up in the hospital with some sort of mysterious disease… :-). But attaining that level of catastrophe is a skill that one must really cultivate, so.

  8. Yes – I guess I am *really* sanguine about this, I tend to forget how used to it I am…

  9. Never before has there been such good access to accurate travel information. If one is inclined to plan, one can be armed with all the pertinent maps, transit routes and schedules, housing options, and restaurant recommendations. One can make sure that the desired attractions are open during the planned visit. One can be forewarned of common scams.

    I am not well traveled, but I never did see much challenge in making my way around the U.S. and Canada by ticketed travel or car or public transit.

  10. Quite true. This is why I think the fear of travel is some quasi metaphysical thing, or some generational attitude I just haven’t grocked.

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