ART BY TIFFANY CHAN
By BELINDA KUO
“Oh, the places you’ll go!” Dr. Seuss formerly wrote.
In today’s flourishing society, people increasingly spend more money on the latest technology or other materialistic pursuits, forgetting the beauty of the world around them. In fact, with the prevalence of social media platforms, it is easier than ever to “experience” another country’s culture through videos, documentaries or photographs.
However, it is important to travel, even within the country, to expand your sphere outside of your home. While there are many outlets nowadays to “take a vacation through the screen at home,” these online resources cannot replace the traveling experience.
First, traveling compels us to embrace new perspectives and people, teaching us to be more accepting and open-minded. As Italian poet Cesare Pavese said, “[Traveling] forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends.” In essence, exploring the unfamiliar and fathering the courage to do so can alter a person’s mindset of the world. By traveling to an unknown environment, we can gain greater cultural and global awareness, dismantling misleading assumptions of a certain country or culture. In an increasingly interconnected world, we need to communicate with others of various cultures and backgrounds, and traveling will give us the opportunity to broaden your horizon through a global perspective. With society constantly changing, we require a wide range of ideas and wisdom to solve problems and enrich community life. Bringing non-mainstream groups into the center of civic activity can provide fresh perspectives and shed new light on tough problems.
Moreover, traveling allows you to create meaningful relationships. While traveling to different locations, you can meet different people with diverse perspectives and experiences. By bonding with people outside of your own country, we may learn to appreciate the many similarities we share with others despite cultural differences, making us more respectful of other cultures and countries. Furthermore, you can make lifelong friends and learn about their culture and traditions. Cultures strongly influence our lifestyles, from our fears, values, hopes and even relationships. By making these friendships based on similarities, you can be a more informed citizen and make better decisions about current events.
Furthermore, traveling encourages you to develop communication and problem-solving skills you never knew you had or needed. For instance, you will need to communicate with a native and navigate through the language barrier to find the way to a restroom, restaurant or destination. After you confront your fears and insecurities over and over again, you become less afraid of your fears and less anxious regarding uncertain, “fearful” situations. Once you overcome these issues and reach your destinations, you may become more confident in your abilities and will strive to build these skills when you return home.
Finally, traveling can encourage self-reflection by boosting mental health. With all the stress accumulated from the hustle-bustle of daily life, traveling allows you to reset your mental state and appreciate all the little things around you. By immersing yourself into a new environment, you can escape the perpetual cycle of worrying and enjoy the current moments rather than stress about the workload awaiting our return. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Surrey found that even the anticipation of going on vacation can improve your mood, as people grow more positive about their health, economic situation and general quality of life. By increasing our happiness, traveling can provide stress relief and benefit the traveler.
Overall, traveling is a magical experience that can drastically transform you and your life for the better. Whether it be within the country or to another continent, there is a destination that can fit your preferences and needs. As the former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” So, the next time you’re looking for something to do, plan a trip to a place you have always wanted to go. And who knows, you might find yourself in a “whole new world” that is waiting for you.