(Image Credit: Pinterest)
Who doesn’t want to travel more this year?
The idea of going to a foreign country and absorbing a new culture is a very exciting. Traveling more is probably the most popular resolutions in the New Year (perhaps only second to “I’m going to lose weight.”) Seeing that, I started to reflect on how my past international travel experience has helped to foster growth.
It Pushes You Out of Your Comfort Zone
This might sound obvious, but not being able to communicate with locals really does give you a one-dimensional travel experience. It wasn’t until I went to Japan on my own at 15 that I realized that I really needed to buckle down and learn the language if I wanted to add depth to my experiences there. I didn’t want to be the one who had to rely on a third party for a translation.
Sure, it’s intimidating to have to learn a new language, but I find that the locals are largely impressed with you if you attempt to start a conversation with them in their native tongue. Conversing with locals forces you to use body language, and it gives you the opportunity to expand your own vocabulary. Being in a new environment (particularly in places where they don’t speak English) takes away your safety blanket and pushes you outside your comfort zone.
It Forces You To Re-Evaluate
This is especially true if you’re traveling in groups. Living with people in close proximity gives you time to observe how other people around you behave and how others (including locals) react to that behavior.
To give you a personal example, nearly 2 years ago, I stepped off a plane in Sydney, Australia with 18 other people. Traveling around the country together and living in such close proximity with each other gave me the opportunity to observe how I come across to others, how others communicate with each other, and how others (including the locals) perceive you. The trip also shed light on many facets of my personality where I still had room to grow. This awareness has prompted me to devote more time to evaluating all aspects of my life on a personal and professional level.
Live In The Moment
Who wouldn’t want to absorb everything a new culture/city/continent has to offer while you’re on foreign soil? Absorbing yourself in what you see in a new place allows you to get the most out of your experience (which is part of the reason why I’m glad I went without a cell phone in Australia for as long as I did).
Going into a new place just being open-minded with no expectations allows you to get the most joy out of your experiences. Studies have also scientifically proven that living in the moment makes people happier. What could be better?
(Image Credit: Pinterest)
The Little Things Are Important Too
Paying attention to cultural differences that can seem miniscule can make a big difference, and add an entirely new dimension of enjoyment to your travels. I found I was fascinated with the differences between British, American, and Australian lingo. They all speak English, but what may mean one thing to an American sounds different to a British person, which in turn, sounds different to an Australian.
In addition to discovering new interests, I’ve found that by absorbing the good, the bad, and the ugly in all my international ventures, I tend to get the most out of them. Things that can seem negative in the moment can be a blessing in disguise given time and distance. You can also develop a deep appreciation for things that you used to take for granted. Gratitude just makes everything so much better.
Have you made a resolution to travel more this year?
How has traveling changed you?