I grew up in suburban DFW so this is not some post about how I was born into what people see as a simple-minded small town in rural country. But there is still so much that I learned when I moved to Chicago for the summer a few years ago. While I was not living on my own but with my grandmother in the North Shore Chicago area I still learned how to change my way of living according to the climate.

Growing up in what is considered the "Bible Belt" created a more sheltered lifestyle both at home and in school. While we were not sheltered to the point that evolution was not taught in science, there were a lot of things that I found shocking later in life as an adult. For example, I had not known much about couples that are LGBT until I was in college. I am not going to lie, it was quite strange for me to see gay couples in public.

Moving to Chicago taught me to be more open-minded to others' opinions. See, growing up in the south most people had the same mindset as me and my family so there was not as much political and social conflict. When there were opposing thoughts, they seemed radical even when in reality they were actually pretty moderate.

During my time in the city, I learned how to travel on the train system as well as areas to avoid as a young female traveling alone. It taught me the importance of always having a means of self-defense as well as how to be outgoing and reach out for help when needed. For example, if I was unsure of where I was going, I would go to the nearest store and ask for directions. I figured the workers were from the area and were safe to ask.

Another thing that I learned is that others with opposing religious view still have a moral basis and positively contribute to society. I did not really know anyone that was not Christian or Agnostic. When I was able to visit the Bahai Temple in Wilmette (Chicago suburb) I was able to learn all about their faith and how they contribute to society. Since there are only seven temples across the world, they get to share their faith through the unique landmark that they have created. Here is a picture of the temple below.

upload.wikimedia.org

As you can see, it is extremely beautiful, which is why people from all of the world travel here. I did not even know what the religion Baha'i was until my visit here. Learning about other religions allowed me to understand how each faith is unique and benefits the believers. I see now that having a faith of any kind, even if it different than my own can contribute just as much to society.

These are things that I would have never learned about staying in the same area I grew up. Even if you only are able to go on a study abroad or a trip to another area, try to dive into the culture and it might change you for the better.