Last week’s segment of travel insight from our Program Admissions Counselor spoke about what they have learned about their home country through travel. This week our Program Admissions Counselor share what they have learned about themselves through travel.
What Have You Learned About Yourself Through Travel?
This is an understanding that is hard to put into words. It is something that can only be experienced first hand to recognize what is means to have your ideas and perceptions broadened, inspired and enlightened. By immersing yourself in new cultures, experiencing things you would never consider and overcoming challenges that cross your path - you become more adaptable, open-minded and conscientious towards the world and what it means to be a global citizen.
Augusta: I learned that I like being scared and uncomfortable, it slows down time and makes you really aware of your surroundings. I learned how to be alone, and how to make friends. I learned that I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, but also that I need alone time to avoid being overwhelmed. I learned that kindness and open-mindedness are two of the traits I value most in others, and how to strive towards emulating these myself. I learned that leaving my comfort zone is the best way to learn self-awareness and how to be grateful for where I came from and all the opportunities I have.
Brian: I grew up in as white middle class suburban of a world as one could. I was sheltered, not very open-minded, and more or less scared of the larger world around me. Safety and security defined my upbringing, and as time went on I grew to resent this. At some point I realized I needed to travel to gain a better understanding of myself, and to grow up. I didn't know why, I just knew I had to. One of my most distinct memories from my first year overseas was a day I was sent out to interview community leaders in the predominantly-Muslim neighborhood of Utrecht, Holland. On the surface, the neighborhood looked like everything I'd ever been taught to fear. But upon entering a local tea house, I was welcomed by the community, and spent the entire day chatting with immigrant laborers, kids, and religious leaders. I felt at home, which was initially odd because no one looked like me, and our values were supposedly so far removed from each other. But what I immediately realized was the simple fact that there are far more similarities than differences in people throughout the world. I realized the differences just added color if you looked at it the right way. I realized that if I opened myself up, there'd be far more to learn about the world than to fear about it. I grew up a lot during my travels. Not simply because I lived alone in a foreign country for so long, but because I became far more accepting and open than I ever would have been had I stayed in my comfort zone forever.
Carlie: I always say, the best people to travel with are the ones who are independent and don’t mind going off to do their own thing, and they’re ok with you doing your own thing. I learned how to be independent when I lived abroad by exploring new cities and places on my own, and that I can adjust to my surroundings when I am out of my comfort zone. I lived in Australia for 6 months attending the University of Sydney and I also worked at a restaurant. I met a lot of people during my time there and I was always looking for activities to do with friends. It’s fun to share an experience with a friend, but I also never let my friends hold me back from exploring things I wanted to see. If they didn’t want to accompany me, I went by myself! Those experiences you have on your own can also be quite amazing. For example, my roommates and I were supposed to travel to South East Asia together, all three of them bailed out on me, but I didn’t let that stop me. I was determined to go, and I ended up traveling for a month to Thailand and Indonesia on my own. I would have missed out on so many beautiful beaches, seeing different cultures, eating exotic foods, boat rides, whale watching, the full moon party, and monkeys climbing on me in the jungle if I had given up on the trip and stayed home with my friends.
Life abroad is an adventure and you have to stay on the lookout out for evening activities after work; or weekend trips; keep an open mind, be flexible, and try new things because that’s what you do when you live abroad.
Liam: I grew up a confident - sometimes cocky - lad from a small town in the United Kingdom where I knew everybody and everything (or so I thought!). I was comfortable and I was sheltered. By traveling and living abroad I suddenly learned to understand and appreciate just that. I observed, quickly, that I saw and did things in one way - but that there are so many other ways of seeing and doing things that differed greatly from my way. I learned a perspective and level of self-awareness that I am so relieved to have now. And most importantly I learned that I have so much growing and learning still to do - growing and learning that I previously didn't know was necessary or possible! The experience of living abroad was absolutely defining.
Steph: I believe the traveling I have done and people I have met have altered my perspective on life as a whole and how I want to live my own. I could have had a very different, very closed off life. Instead, I chose to uproot everything and push myself way out of my comfort zone because I realized I was not happy with the direction my life was heading in. I learned what I am truly capable of and that I am capable of so much more. What I value, my perspective and my confidence have all changed for the better. Growing up you are surrounded by people in dead-end jobs, stuck in situations that make them miserable and with negative outlooks on life. I choose to not have any of those be options for me. Traveling has shown me that quality of life is the most important thing and life should be filled with people and experiences that contribute to this.