How Traveling Changed My Life: A Guide to Experiencing Different Cultures
by Felecia Farrell
When I was younger my parents made it a point to teach my siblings and me how important it is to step out of your comfort zone. Every chance that they got my mom and dad would take us somewhere new or different. We visited museums, libraries, parks, and everything in between. Now that I am older and able to travel on my own, I have come to appreciate the unexpected life lessons that I have learned during my time as a wanderer.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Every time I visit a new place or meet someone, I am once again reminded of how unaware I am. Most of us are raised in areas and communities where those around us are similar to ourselves. We likely live in neighborhoods and towns where most people have religious backgrounds, political views and financial statuses that are parallel to our own. By traveling I have experienced traditions, spiritual practices, foods, and cultures that I had known very little about or never knew existed.
Your comfort zone can be dangerous.
What I have found is that by discovering more about the world around me, I have gained a greater understanding of my role in this world. Many of the biases and prejudices that people have are a result of misinformation. Before we jump to judge or stigmatize those that are different from us, we must attempt to see the world from their perspective. Choosing to stay in your comfort zone usually means stunting your own personal growth. There is a better, more informed version of yourself waiting to be realized at the end of your comfort zone.
Your experiences shape your identity.
Who we are is a result of our past and present experiences. The places that you have been to, the people who have been a part of your life, and the things you have done all influence your personality and worldview in one way or another. Making the decision to be uncomfortable and out of our cultural element sometimes can be one of the best things that we can do for our own development.
There are so many beautiful people and places waiting outside your bubble. And leaving your bubble does not mean that you have to travel to a new continent or fly halfway around the world. It could mean stopping to say hello to that neighbor who you have never spoken to or the person standing next to you in line. It could also mean visiting a place in your very own city that you’ve never been to before. No matter who or where you are there are always opportunities to gain a new culture experience. I am sure that once you begin, you will catch the travel bug too. J. R. R. Tolkien was right when he said “Not all who wander are lost”. Some of us are just along for the beautiful, adventurous ride.