Now that there are just days before many college students migrate back to their campuses to begin another busy semester, many of them have just returned from traveling to a number of destinations.
Since I was young, I have always loved traveling and have found it fascinating and rewarding to explore a new city or culture. Though traveling is often expensive and challenging to plan, I’m here to tell you about the importance of traveling, and why it is more important now than ever.
While traveling, it is inevitable that you meet new people, whether they be fellow tourists or natives of the country. Locals can change your travel experience completely and provide you with a primary source of how people in that region live their day to day lives.
They might recommend local places instead of the touristy spots you may know, and they might even connect to you in a weird way. For example, when I was in Paris, my waiter at a local café had immediate family that lived in my town.
The world is a big place, but it’s not that big. Traveling helps people to realize how the world connects in weird and interesting ways. Meeting new people in new places gives you a new perspective and a window into the ways different people live.
There is much value in examining the politics of other countries and discussing politics with the people that live in these countries. For example, when I was in Israel this summer, I took the opportunity to discuss politics with many of those around me because of Israel’s immense political diversity, especially toward American policy.
Many Israelis were in great favor of President Trump and his policies, while others weren’t. Similarly, when I met fellow tourists from countries like Britain, they asked me about life in America since President Trump was elected.
Just like they wanted to learn about American politics and found them interesting, I wanted to learn more about Israeli and British politics, and their similarities and differences to America. There is no better way to learn this than the from the citizens themselves.
When exploring a new country, city, or even village, it is essential to learn about their histories to understand their way of life, and may even change the way you view your own life. As Americans, we have our own history that we learn in classes and through museums.
However, there is immense value in looking at history through the lens of a different country, or from the perspectives of some of our enemies. It helps us understand that we have a place and a role within the world, but that the world does not revolve around us. When traveling in places like London or Italy, learning about their history and culture has value in itself. But, learning how that history coincides with ours creates a whole new level of meaning.
Traveling helps us feel grateful. Three summers ago, I spent two weeks in Thailand. From wandering through the chaotic and energetic, but also horribly polluted city of Bangkok, I began to consider how I never walk through New York City needing to wear a mask to shield myself from horrible smells or watch where I stepped in case livestock decided to run across the street.
These were aspects of living I had never considered something to be grateful for until I had to worry about them. When volunteering at a local elementary school, words could not explain the difference between my educational experience and that of these children.
The school we volunteered at was relatively nice compared to other schools, and students still lacked many learning materials and classrooms were limited. This experience was eye-opening for me and began to change the way I viewed many systems and my own upbringing in the United States. When I returned, this mentality remained ingrained in me and continues to influence the ways in which I live today.
Every city, country, town, state, you name it, eats differently. From Chicago deep dish pizza to grits in the south, to gelato in Italy and even soup dumplings in China, these places are defined by their cuisine. You did not completely travel to a place unless you took advantage of the amazing food each place offers.
It is fascinating to learn about and eat the food popular in different cities and countries around the world. If food isn’t a reason on its own to travel…I’m not sure what is. Additionally, languages themselves are fascinating, and there’s nothing quite like sitting at a local restaurant listening to those around you converse in their native languages.
I have gained so much from traveling in ways I can’t even really describe. Besides traveling itself serving as a means of education, I have made so many memories with new people that I still keep in touch with. I have also had unforgettable and unique experiences that I could not have had anywhere else.