Sarah Palin and Hawaii don’t mix? About comfort zones vs going rogue

Here’s a tidbit about Sarah Palin that caught my attention. According to her dad, Palin left college in Hawaii because being around too many Asians made her feel uncomfortable. Interesting. Sarah Palin attributes her leaving the Aloha State after just one semester to too much sunshine for an 18 year-old—as in beaches and academics are not a great mix for an Alaskan gal. Read Palin’s book Going Rogue:An American Life and you’ll get Palin’s version.

Whether Palin found hitting the books in Hawaii too difficult– or the number of Asians there too disconcerting, either option brings up the topic of comfort zones travel and going rogue.

People like Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods and Bizarre World thrive on traveling outside of their comfort zones. To them, outside of the comfort zone is a comfort zone. A place where most people feel comfortable might cause them an unsettled feeling. Put a person like Zimmern in the middle of a Wal-mart in the U.S. and he or she might feel creeped out.

Places like a Disney theme park, McDonald’s, Las Vegas and some cruise ships have popular appeal because they have found the magic formula that fits the needs of the masses. They are comfort food with a dash of something that feels like excitement. At these places you know what to expect and can feel safe in the crowd.

How many people don’t travel outside of what they know because of the feeling of the unknown and the discomfort of sticking out in a crowd?

If Sarah Palin’s father is accurate in his assessment that her discomfort with being in the midst of too many Asians sent her to college in Idaho, I’d say Palin’s attitude takes her out of the rogue category and plops her into the main stream. It’s not a matter of being prejudiced either. It has to do with a tolerance for what is different. For some people it’s hard to feel comfortable in ones skin in an environment that is unfamiliar. Feeling comfortable takes time, practice and travel.

As anyone who has traveled extensively in other countries has discovered, travel helps stretch the skin. The more one travels past ones comfort zone, the more ones skin expands. What once felt disquieting feels as comfortable as a well worn shoe. The process of going from discomfort to comfort is one of the joys of travel. It’s one of the elements that pushes world travelers towards new horizons– to a state of going rogue.

Shanghai to get a Disney theme park: Does it need one?

In five to six years, Shanghai will have joined Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris as a city out of the U.S. with a Disney theme park. China may or may not need a Disney theme park, but Disney’s aim is that the Shanghai location will help create a mighty want for Disney products among the country’s population.

With 1.5 billion people in China, Disney is hoping that the big bucks it will cost to dazzle the multitudes will pay off in other avenues. As anyone who has ever been to a Disney property knows, the theme park is not just a way to be wowed for a day or two; it’s a gateway into other Disney habits. The hope is that the wow moments are enough to make you crave more.

For example, not only is the Pirates of the Caribbean ride now one more place to get a Johnny Depp fix as Captain Jack Sparrow, it’s a marketing tool for all things having to do with the movie. As Depp, aka, Captain Jack Sparrow makes appearances throughout the ride, and then talks so provocatively right before the end, the connection to the movie is not subliminal advertising–the type where an image triggers off our subconscious.

Nope, by the time we climb out of the ride at the gift shop, it’s no surprise to see shelves laced with every sort of Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise that has ever been cranked out. (Ironically, most of it is probably cranked out in China.) There’s no other way to end this particular ride but to push on through the gift shop, not the easiest thing to do without a purchase when one has a child in tow who now has Captain Jack Sparrow on the brain.

Disney is hoping that the Chinese families who fork out the money to enter its theme park will leave wanting more Disney. DVDs, video games, touring musicals and more are the perfect Disney fix for creating some of Disney’s magic back at home.

For the Chinese government, the hope is that Disney in Shanghai will provide tens of thousands of jobs for people who are in need of viable employment.

Because it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks sometimes, this Disney park will incorporate Chinese history and stories into some of its attractions. Many classic Disney rides will be included. I bet Captain Jack Sparrow will be speaking Chinese. Ni hao, Johnny!