News Flash: It’s NOT a small world after all. Here’s five reasons on an ever-growing list of why you should travel:
To find out how the rest of the world views you! “I love Abby, but I could NEVER live in the USA,” my Colombian roommate told me after a few months of rooming together in Mexico. I was a quiet, shy international exchange student in Mexico who was just getting a grasp on understanding and speaking Spanish. I was enthralled by the Latino culture and particularly by the kiss of greeting they bestow on each person in the room. I asked my roommate, “Why couldn’t you live in the USA?” She then built for me a list of traits she assumed existed in all Americans: you eat by yourself, you work by yourself, you don’t greet people, you don’t talk much, you go places without telling me, you are always working, you do things alone, etc. Generally speaking, yes, we are an individualistic society, but that’s not such a cool trait in the eyes of other societies. Or a New Zealander who said, “I know my neighbors are Americans because they are so loud. All night we could hear their entire conversations!” Also, not cool! It’s good to realize we’re not as awesome as we thing we are!
To learn to live on less! Will you survive for a month with just the clothes you packed in a carry-on? If you get on the wrong bus in Mexico, don’t know much Spanish, don’t have the address to where you are staying, and have no cell service, can you get home? Will you learn to carry a water bottle because you don’t know when the next time you’ll have safe water to drink will be? Can you get through 24 hours with no credit cards or currency in a foreign country? Can you survive without cell service for more than a week? The answer is YES! But, you won’t know your own strength until you travel.
To accept a lifestyle you’ll never understand! “I don’t get it!” Those might be our words when we notice a person’s perpetual tardiness, an introvert’s quiet shyness, an extrovert’s popularity, a crunchy chicken foot, a plate of warm, chewy menudo, beetle blood used as lipstick, fried grasshoppers as an appetizer, the hours of labor behind a $4 sweater, a nation’s cruel history, or an impoverished village’s generosity. I don’t have to ‘get it,’ but I have to accept and respect these people as humans with dignity despite our different values.
To be yourself! When I travel, I like to wear a cute little fedora. Do I wear one at home? Nope because people might look at me funny! When I travel, I don’t wear makeup. Does anyone care? Nope. Everyone has his/her own life to live. Do I update the rest of the world? Not usually. I keep a journal. I live in the moment. I discover new places and people that I’ve never seen before, and I come home refreshed to have found my truest self for a few days!
To be inspired to learn and dream! Sometimes we have to step outside of our lives to evaluate what it is we’re really doing or dreaming of doing! I’ve come home determined to learn another language, excited about a possible career shift, or intrigued by a nation’s history. You never know what’s around the corner, so go far away and learn what you’ll never learn in school!
In the end, it’s not enough to read about glorious places on the internet or hear a unique language or accent on TV! I believe you’ll never really understand the greatness of the Creator God and His love for people until you’ve experienced the diversity in the far reaches of the globe! Go experience it! “Travel leaves you speechless and turns you into a storyteller.” Go hear some stories and come back to tell the world!