Traveling is a fun way to spend your vacation, but it’s often educational, too. It may even be uncomfortable at times. If you head to a new place where you don’t know the language, the local customs, or how public transportation works, you might find yourself in a frustrating situation or two. Whether you realize it then or later, eventually you’ll see how going to new places can help you understand the larger world around you. It’s easy to view the world from your limited experiences, but traveling has a way of broadening perspectives like nothing else. Here are just some ways traveling can open your eyes to world issues.
Food is a huge element that connects people across cultures. Food can be a very personal aspect of culture, and sharing food with a stranger is a big deal. Many renowned restaurants and food stalls around the world still use family recipes invented generations ago, so when you eat those meals, you’re connecting with a deep and personal piece of family history. Many ingredients are used because they are found naturally, or grown easily, in the surrounding area, and there may be a unique story as to how they were brought to the area, or even created by local farmers. You can also tell a lot about an area by what isn’t present in local cooking. Some ingredients, like spices, have a long, complicated history with many countries around the world. Cruise ships often have large buffets of all kinds of foods made by chefs from all over the world, but don’t forget all the restaurants at port stops.
Language is a fascinating look into different cultures. Some languages have gendered words, others do not. Some languages simply don’t have words for things, feelings, or sensations you might have experienced in other countries. It’s unrealistic to try to learn a new language before you go to each new country, but you should at least try to learn some of the basics. English may be spoken widely around the world, but you’ll be surprised at how much the locals appreciate your attempt to communicate in their language. Even if you’re not any good, many appreciate the opportunity to practice their English.
Education is another aspect of culture that can tell you a lot about a place. Are girls just as welcome as the boys? Is going to college common? What subjects are taught, and how much freedom are students given to choose which classes they want to take? Are there historic universities, or are the schools relatively new? It’s important to note that colonization has impacted many cultures over several centuries, resulting in a devastating loss of some cultures altogether. Just be aware that countless places have changed as a result, so what you see may not be the full picture.
The way people learn history is vastly impacted by the perspective of the teacher. The way you were taught about a historic event may be different from the way tour guides tell the story at the historic site. By traveling to these incredible places, you’ll learn crucial details and context that may have been left out of your history books. You may learn about important people or artifacts that much of the world has forgotten, and there’s nothing quite like seeing locations for yourself to help you understand what people of the past were feeling. Seeking out the history of new places can help you connect in new and intense ways that leave you with a new appreciation for the people who live there.
Many people who travel for the first time experience a sense of disillusionment, but you shouldn’t let that discourage you from traveling. In many ways, the real place is far better than whatever you imagined it to be. When you explore new places with an open mind, you can go home with a new appreciation and respect for the world around you.