For many, home becomes comfortable. The same faces, places, and things to do. Leaving your childhood bubble for an overseas adventure can be a great way to break free!An opportunity to see new cultures, food, and entertainment that the world offers.
How can travel change the way you think?
I can tell you! I am an international student in the US studying finance that has left a tight knit community to travel abroad.
1. We now live in a global village:
Traveling teaches that cultures everywhere are beginning to get very intertwined. Not only is there a stroke of foreign influence in your hometown, but it is everywhere else that you may travel! You will hear music from your home country being mixed into music where you are traveling, food blended for local pallets that originated halfway across the world, and languages using colloquiums that you may have thought were your own. And with mom and dad only a free Skype call away, you won’t feel thousands of miles from home. The world is getting smaller, and traveling helps you to understand that.
2. There is more to this extraordinary world than the bubble you grew up in:
As we can all agree, home is comfortable. We know everyone, our family is there, our high school crush is there, and we know exactly where to go for a late-night bite. But staying in your bubble also severely limits your worldview and ideas for what is possible with your life and career.
Traveling abroad and seeing new cultures, the people, and the industry helps you to realize that there is a world of opportunity awaiting you. When you start to see some of the architectural, engineering, artistic and infrastructural wonders that the world has to offer, your mind can’t help but begin to dream of big things. Get out of your little bubble, unleash your mind and allow it to dream!
3. It is OK to try new things:
We will start slowly with this one, just try the food! In every traveling experience the food is usually the first and most obvious separator of cultures. Seeing the variety of spices, meats, vegetables, and fruits can be an awe-inspiring experience for some (let’s hear it for our fellow foodies!) and a nerve-racking challenge for others.
For those of us that prefer the tastes of home, food can be a good first step into understanding the cultures that are available. You’re going to have to eat eventually on that trip, right? But don’t get trapped into buying the generic international fast food that is available at most places in this global village, try the local offerings, learn that other people have different cultures and tastes, and who knows? It may even make you an international friend or two!
4. You can handle being independent!
Traveling while you’re a student allows you a special variety of independence. Your free to make your own dining decisions, explore wherever you want, and practically do anything your little heart desires. While traveling, you can blend into the local culture as much as you please, unencumbered by the societal norms of your hometown. You can mix and learn from new cultures and people that may not have been available before. You will quickly learn that for some, everyday life is drastically different than what you are used to. Celebrations are different, customs are different and even acceptable personal space is different! Learning to accept new cultures and norms grows your independence and personality. It helps you become confident in who you are separate from peer groups and family. Travel helps you be comfortable with you because you will see that everyone is different!
5. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone can be freeing:
Only on international trips do you get to parade around the city in costume, run with the bulls, participate in a huge tomato fight, or dress up as a gorilla without worrying about what others think of you. Traveling allows you to act in ways you never thought normal. Without old friends and relatives around, you can test the limits of your comfort zone, learning that change is not as scary as people make it out to be! It may even inspire you to try that new class, sport, or partner for a date when you get back to school!
6. Travel teaches you to cope with stress:
Being away from your comfort zone, on your own in a foreign country can sometimes be extraordinarily stressful! Missing flights, loosing travel documents and language barriers can sometimes be huge stressors! Being able to handle these situations, and enjoy the new experiences at the same time teaches you how to cope with stress in everyday situations. Loosing that passport and having to spend a few extra days in a hostel may sound like a horror story, but if you can handle that you can certainly handle those exams. If you can enjoy your experiences abroad despite seemingly monumental challenges, getting through stressors at home will be far less of a challenge!
7. Traveling makes you more accepting:
Seeing different parts of the world, trying new foods, learning new cultures, and embracing differences in new countries teaches us that everyone is unique. It teaches to be accepting of those at home and school that we formally marginalized because of their differences. Often, travel puts us in positions where we are the minority in another country; linguistically, racially, and culturally. Learning to embrace our own differences while traveling makes accepting and welcoming different people far easier when we get back home.
8. Traveling makes you more interesting:
Traveling gives you new insights into the world around you, it gives you new things to talk about and new experiences to share. We all get tired of hearing the same old gossip from our school and hometown and traveling opens whole new conversations and opportunities for relationships when you return. Being able to relate to others who are from the country you have traveled to and being able to relate to those who have had similar experiences makes branching out to new social groups far easier. That cute guy or girl in your class may even be from the country that you just visited, and with your new experience, that ice breaker is going to be allot easier!