The appeal and personal importance of collecting
By Carly Sitzer
Walking into my room, the first thing most people notice is my dresser. While my mom might notice the drawers that aren’t fully shut, what attracts most people is what’s on top. More than a hundred miniatures of places around the world are presented in my collection of snow globes. The top of my dresser is like a map of the world in perfect glittering globes, and every territory has a special memory to me—a memory of a family vacation, a school trip or a loved one returning home from an excursion and caring enough to bring me a souvenir.
I’m not sure where or why my collection, and almost obsession, with collecting snow globes began, but for as long as I can remember, a vacation has not been complete without buying a snow globe, or a “shaky,” as I call them. It seems to be a popular theme in collecting—acquiring souvenirs from places around the world.
Jordan Sapiro, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, said her collection of international dolls is often a topic of conversation when people first see them.
“When I was younger, my grandparents used to travel all around the world on trips that would last many months at a time,” Sapiro said. “From every country they visited, they would bring me back a doll so I could get a taste of the culture. These dolls were the start of my interest in travel, and I feel proud when the dolls draw someone’s attention.”
For Kelsey Fowler, a freshman at Ithaca College, her key chain collection signifies all the places she’s traveled in her life. She bought her first key chain while on a school trip to Florida in fifth grade—the first time she ever left her home state. After debating what to buy, she settled on a key chain at the check out. Although the collection was initially unintentional, adding to it quickly became a memorable part of any vacation she went on.
“Whenever I went somewhere on a school trip or to an attraction, whether it was the Boston Aquarium or Disney World, I always had to make sure I got a key chain in addition to whatever other souvenirs I happened to buy,” Fowler said.
Like Fowler and myself, Ithaca College freshman Brooke Appelbaum’s shot glass collection has also served as a tangible scrapbook of the places she’s traveled.
“I got my first shot glass while on a cruise at the first stop in Curacao, but now I have from all over the world,” Appelbaum said. “My dad always gets them while on business trips. I love collecting because they are the perfect way to see where I have been, and where the people that care enough to indulge in my collection have been as well.”
Whenever I find myself looking at my snow globes, it’s like looking into perfect little worlds. Although I haven’t traveled to all the places I have snow globes from, each and every one gives me a sense of what culture is like in those places around the world.
Ithaca College freshman Alexa D’Angelo feels the same way when she looks at her collection of spoons from different states and countries. At 12 years old, when she received her first spoon—from England—as a souvenir from a friend of her mother, she saw the opportunity for a unique way to keep track of where she has been and where she wants to go.
“It makes me feel like I’ve actually been places around the world,” D’Angelo said of her spoon collection. “But it also shows me all the places I haven’t been and reminds me of all the places I still want to go.”
While different collections hold different histories and meanings to different people, everyone seems to agree that it’s something that enhances the experience of their journeys. No matter what souvenir you collect, travel collections are a good way to hold on to memories of a trip or to learn more about different cultures.
“I still have the very first key chain I ever bought, which is a Minnie Mouse key chain from the airport when my class first landed in Florida,” Fowler said. “It’s still on my car keys at home, and every time I see it, I remember that trip, but more importantly, all the adventures I’ve been on since.”
Carly Sitzer is a freshman journalism major with a deep love for pointless crap. Get a real hobby, Carly, like miniature models! E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.