Whether you are driving a few states away, or flying across the globe, there’s no greater anticipation then that which comes from packing your bags and leaving your home to travel somewhere new. Despite the distance, traveling to your destination always feels like an endless journey, but once you arrive and your adventure begins, it’s well worth the wait.
What’s unique about traveling is no matter where you go, or how long you stay, this journey can give you more than just the fun memories and quality photos you were hoping for. Traveling changes people, and often it’s for the better. Since traveling is a direct experience it allows people to gain new perspectives – through themselves and culture – that cannot be acquired from reading an article or watching a documentary. Traveling helps people to grow by allowing them to create their own opinions and gain their own perspective on a place and culture rather then depending on another source.
© Jörg Bergmann
Generally, culture can be defined as the qualities that distinguish one society from another. Culture is the way people live their everyday lives, and can be expressed through art, fashion, food, politics, history, and so much more. When people think of cultures different from their own, they tend to immediately think of places geographically far away from where they live. What people often do not realize is that culture can differ from as little as a few states away, and they don’t need to travel across the globe to experience another culture.
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When traveling somewhere that is new to you, whether it be for a week or a month, near or far, participating in and learning about local culture is unavoidable. As previously stated, culture is integrated into every aspect of life, from big things such as what people eat, and to how they dress, to small things such as how to mail a letter and how people greet one another. Gaining perspective on how people in different cultures live can be really eye opening, especially when it’s different from your own. Social norms you would never second guess in your culture could be completely inappropriate in another.
© Aaron Hawkins
For example, in most European countries the legal drinking age is 18 years old, whereas in the United States, it’s 21 years old. So, if a 20-year-old student from Europe studies abroad in the United States, they can not legally drink, even though they have been able to in their home country for the past two years. Although this example is common knowledge, it’s differences like this that can be a big culture shock due to the drastic difference from one culture to the next and vice versa. By traveling and becoming immersed in other cultures, people not only gain a better understanding and appreciation of how other people live, but also a better understanding and appreciation of their own culture.
When traveling and experiencing cultures that are new to you, it’s natural to compare what you experience to what you already know. Traveling often leads to people not only having a greater appreciation for other cultures but for there own culture as well. People don’t always realize how much they take for granted in their everyday lives until it’s gone. Whether it be something small such as having the proper outlet to charge your phone from, or something large, like running water. Traveling to other cultures can help us see these advantages more clearly and have a better appreciation for them.
© Dehua Zhu
Traveling not only gives people perspective on the culture they visit and the culture they come from, but also allows them to gain self-perspective by taking them out of their comfort zone. People often define themselves by the environment they live in and the people around them, traveling eliminates these “defining factors” and brings a new environment and culture into play. When people become liberated from the constructs they are in, they can more easily learn who they are without them.
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Aside from being taken out of their comfort zone, being put in a new environment is another great way travel helps people gain self-perspective. When people travel they become more adventurous by trying new foods and participating in activities they most likely would have never done in the comfort of their everyday lives.
© The 3B’s
At the end of the day, travel pushes people to be more open minded about other cultures and about themselves. No matter how far you go, or how long you travel for, even if your photos don’t come out quite right, the knowledge you’ll gain about yourself and other cultures will be priceless.