The St Paul and Minneapolis area (twin cities) are one of a kind. Very diverse, full of vibrant subcultures and a thriving business hub. Being from Milwaukee, I know that city like the back of my hand. And the twin cities are a fresh change with a new environment offering new exploration and immersion into a similar but very different culture. You notice the little things, like “pop” versus “soda”, Vikings over Packers, and an abundance of individuals with borderline Canadian accents. These are the qualities that make a place unique. I love the culture of the twin cities and immerse myself to my best ability. So I may not have moved far from Milwaukee but the culture is still vastly different and the farther you branch out from your home, the more diverse the culture and the environment gets.
As United States citizens we are blessed with one of the most geographically diverse countries on the planet. As midwesterners we have some of the most distinct seasonal changes and wouldn’t by any means call it the prettiest place on a year-round basis but our people, beer, lakes, rivers, farmland and abundant “Northwoods” make this place special. The dramatic landscapes are far and few between in the midwest so to see where the special landscapes reside you will have to travel east and west. The amazing part is that the mainland USA is entirely drivable and the views along the way are incredible. From the bustling streets of NYC to the calming ocean breeze of Florida to the dramatic Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the rugged coastline of Oregon. These diverse environments and their residing people are all patiently waiting for innocent eyes. Any new region of America that you choose to visit, hopefully all at some point, will offer (relatively) new views, new people, new food, and new ways of living. Immersing in these cultures within our own country is a great initial exposure to the subtle and not so subtle cultural differences.
You can google any location on the face of the Earth and know what it looks like but your first visit to a foreign country is always a blind entrance with unexpected variables. The world is intimidating. These are places you have never seen with your own eyes before. A language you may not speak. People that look different than yourself. But that’s exciting, right? I recently embarked on my first international journey this past January and it was absolutely incredible. The feeling of getting on a plane in America and knowing that you will be landing in a completely foreign place is entirely unique and exciting. I know we all hear about the majority of our fellow students who studied abroad and come back with a life changing experience and a travel bug but that’s because it’s all true. Temporarily integrating into these environments allows you to experience a completely different way of living. The truly special part of traveling internationally is that humans will always be humans and you can expect this constant. The differences lie in the ways they have adapted to their environments such as: language, food, transportation, social structure, dress, attitudes or values based on their familial upbringings, and etc. While in Chile I was able to see and live these adaptations. The first time in a new part of the world is truly special and is something that can’t be lived through a tv, you have to go there. Interacting with new environments and their people all across the globe is experiencing the beauty of Earth and life itself. There is too much value from traveling to just be content with saving the money and time and watching Discovery Channel.
These life-changing and life-defining travels are often restricted by people who hold back on these endeavors because of money and time. These are excuses because you can easily make money for travel and easily make time for travel. The key is to prioritize. Obviously not at #1 but higher than it is now. Time can even be used as a reason to travel because of our limited allowance of it in our lifetimes. That is precisely my ante for travelling, where I definitely don’t want to find myself later in life regretting not traveling while I was a young lad.
Now that the restrictions are cleared up. You’re ready to drop everything for a year and travel the entire world, right? Well maybe not that extreme but I just want to make clear what my personal expectations from seeing the world are in hopes of persuading you to travel. There is SO MUCH value from travel. You see the natural beauty of God’s creation. New creatures in new environments with new people doing new things eating new food (relative to your perspective). That’s a lot of new and this can only add to your already unique character and bank of knowledge, right? I intend to walk away ‘cultured’ with an appreciation for all different walks of life and an openness to new experiences and new relationships. I intend to have pushed myself physically, socially and mentally to understand the culture of wherever I may be while holding onto my true self. Among the sea of unknown I hope to find myself and my true purpose from seeing the beauty and the ugly the world has to offer. To develop a true appreciation for life itself, for the United States of America, and especially for the midwest. And finally, a lasting appreciation and love for God, my family, friends, and the place I am proud to call home. Hopefully this will get you in a car, train, boat, or plane to see the world, spark new relationships, and find yourself.