There are two kinds of people in this world: those who seek to cast off normalcy to see the world, and those who are content with remaining with the same routine and environment they were raised in.
As someone who proudly declares herself a global citizen and professional nomad, I get asked questions about home and hearth quite often. In return, I developed some reasons for why every person needs to see another culture and land at least once.
I will not mince words here. When you travel, the preconditioned view you have the world is peeled away from your eyes. You see the world for what it really is: land, sky, water, animals, and humans. Gradually, the dissimilarities you were told existed either become evident or disappear.
For me, I have started to see pieces of the world wherever I go. Every place has its forests, deserts, mountains, and lakes. Nowhere is spared of diversity, but it’s where you decide to see those differences that change. Depending on the land you visit, the culture might be entirely new to you, and some aspects might shock you to your core. It should.
And you know what? It’s the only kind of shock I condone for snapping people out of their self-imposed lunacy.
I don’t know why people can’t see that everyone – regardless of where you are from – wants to wake up tomorrow, greet their family and friends, take a peaceful walk through the park, go to work doing something they love, and reconvene for dinnertime. But every culture holds these components of a good life with different values. That’s all.
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When you leave your hometown, you will undoubtedly encounter perspective about the world that is not in line with your own. You will experience variances in how people speak, think, and even greet one another. You will taste foods you can’t pronounce, see sights you never imagined, and learn lessons you never knew existed.
What’s important is doing what cannot be done where you live. Wherever you find your home, there are certain limits on what is available. So if you want to go mountain climbing but live by the seaside, want to go scuba diving but live in the desert, want to see volcanoes but live in a quiescent zone, then go. Go to the places that make no sense to you and endeavor to learn about every rock, plant, and animal you see.
The more experience gained while outside of your hometown, the more you will grow. You will be put through trials but gain fortitude. Make yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because that is the key to keeping your eyes open, to getting the most of the time we are allotted on this earth.
And of course, when you garner worldly experience, you also make mistakes. I have lost count of all my misadventures and conundrums while abroad. Do I regret any of them? Not at all.
Mistakes are stories. Retell them proudly. Mistakes are scars. Wear them well. Mistakes are lessons and can be negative and positive on how they make us feel. Get lost. Lose the map. Order the wrong item on the menu. Find yourself in a situation where you might be utterly flustered. Wind up at the wrong airplane gate.
A dose of reality is good for us all. Mistakes make us realize one important thing: we are not perfect. Especially when traveling.
All the while, you are breathing the same oxygen as everyone else around you. You will form bonds as you experience the world. These connections with other people might be tenuous and disappear the instant you have separated, but you will continue to live on in one another’s memories.
Abroad, I have met people from all over. I am always surprised with who approaches me and the kinds of conversations I have. Meet these encounters with an open mind and no preconceived notions about how these individuals will sound and think.
Of course, you can make mistakes, like asking if they are from France when they are really from Canada. Don’t generalize, because you will find those ideas of their lifestyle that you had prior to meeting them completely obliterated.
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When you connect with other people around the world, you build a tolerance for different opinions. You realize that there are more than two sides to every story. Moreover, you learn how to utilize the perspectives, experiences, and connections to garner a broader view of the world.
You will be less prone to stereotyping and generalizing. The acceptance you gain for others and their situations during travelers will make you flexible and strong.
Don’t hesitate when the chance to travel comes along. Even if you never do it again, leave your hometown for the world at least once. You will return stronger, more open-minded, and wiser.