Civis Orbi Terrarum

In one of my previous posts, I briefly (emphasize briefly) skimmed the surface in describing the trip I took to Europe in the summer of 2012. It was the standard “I graduated college and the next best thing to do is backpack through Europe,” kind of thing, and it has become one of most treasured experiences. While the learning on the trip was endless, there was one thing in particular that has stuck with me months after I returned home from my adventure, and surprisingly it’s something that I’ve found myself somewhat attached to. But first, let’s back up and let me explain the story behind the inspiration…

Out of the ten different cities that Sam(my boyfriend) and I explored on our “tour de Europe”, one of our most beloved and highly anticipated stops was Munich, Germany. For anyone that has been to Munich, they know just easily it is to fall in love with that city. The food has you going back for seconds thirds, and in my case, fourths (I’m not ashamed to admit that I pretty much lived for schnitzel), the beer is out of this world (and MASSIVE), and the people are friendly, fun, and PROUD.

Our hostel, a party all its own called “Wombats,” offered free walking tours through the city, and Sam and I were quick to take them up on that offer. The tour guide, a man with crazy curly hair named “Ozzy”, was just as vivacious as the people of Munich, and led us around the winding streets, alleys and biergartens.

With about 12 people on the walking tour, one of which was a fellow alumni from Ohio State (talk about SMALL world), I struck up a conversation with a young guy around my age. I knew from the get-go that he was not from Germany, and he was not an American, but I could not place his accent. So I proceeded to ask him where he was from. After giving it a few seconds thought, he responded, “I’m not from anywhere…I’m a citizen of the world!” Although he did end up telling me where he was from (Argentina), I couldn’t help but remember what he said throughout the duration of the trip, and long afterwards.

civis orbi terrarum 

In Latin, “Civis” means “Citizen” and ” orbi terrarum” means quite literally, “the circle of the lands.” Put together, the phrase becomes “citizen of the world.” Such a simple phrase, but it can take on such a unique and diverse definition, especially for those of us that love to travel and explore other cultures.

The definition for the traveler is simple and easy to understand. The places that we visit, the cultures that we expose ourselves to, these are all attempts to completely and totally immerse ourselves into a life much different than ours. We do not want to deem ourselves the “typical tourist,” but want to become so familiar with an area that we essentially could be regarded as “citizens” of that particular place. Travelers are not only there to take pictures of the attractions and landmarks, but to absorb the sights, sounds, and traditions of a culture, fully and completely.

To others, the definition takes on a more “peace and love” kind of definition. For instance, some people insist on discriminating against others and continually stereotype races, religions, and ethnicities. Hate crimes occur daily and individuals are bullied and harassed based on their cultures and traditions. But in truth, aren’t we all part of the same world? Don’t’ we all see the same sun, and swim in the same oceans? Although hundreds of miles may separate us from others we deem much different than ourselves, don’t we all strive for the same things, indulge in the same pleasures, hurt over the same situations? If we strip away our traditions and cultures, aren’t we all the same people?

We are all citizens of this world, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, and tradition.

How do YOU define civis orbi terrarum?

*Special thanks to Brittany for providing me with some helpful Latin phrases


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